Threepenny Opera Review
The Wac Arts Diploma in Professional Musical Theatre performed in the final year production of The Threepenny Opera on Friday 29th and Saturday 30th June at The John Lyons Theatre in Holborn, London. The production was an explosive, sensory feast of talent. Kansley and Linderts interpretation of The Threepenny Opera is focused on social norms, providing a new perspective to the classic drama. Bertolt Brecht’s musicals always have an inherent political edge and this production was no different, embracing that to its fullest extent.
The setting for this current re-vamp was Canary Wharf Tube Station in the present day, exploring the ideas of social inequality and corruption within our financial institutions. This aesthetic was achieved through simple yet effective projection and sound, producing a clean, industrial backdrop to the action.
The opening was an immersive experience, the students filtered into the ‘underground’, introducing us to their characters. Socialites taking selfies, dealers dealing, and ‘beggers’ begging, the audience were invited in the choreographed chaos. The fourth wall was broken as the cast climbed into the audience; a section of the play that was structured but not scripted, allowing the performers to display their improvisation abilities. Selfies were taken with playgoers who were now declared ‘famous’, phones given to willing audience members to capture an impromptu photoshoot. A dealer tried to sell illegal substances to an unsuspecting woman in the front row, who offered to take it but said she had no money, allowing Daisy, who played Bob the dealer, to react and create a little moment of memorable, unplanned comedy.
It was not just the setting that had a makeover, the characters did too. Wac Arts prides itself on being at the forefront of inclusion and social progression, and it therefore was natural for our directors to redefine the roles and readdress the gender balance. The leading role of Macheath was played by Ela Kalicka, she did not play a man, for the purpose of this production, Macheath was a woman. Her love interests, Polly and Lucy played by Bimpe Pacheco and Frances-Ann Bratke, remained female, so the two central romances were between women. Removing the heteronormative conventions we expect was exciting and refreshing.
Another interesting and very funny swap was that of Mr. and Mrs. Peachum, played by Dominic Simpson and Siana Stoddart. Mr. Peachums lines were given to Mrs. Peachum and Mrs. Peachums lines were given to Mr. Peachum. This mashup created so many opportunities for humour that wouldn’t have existed otherwise. The physical comedy was ramped up and dialogue manipulated to poke fun at gender stereotypes.
One of the most notable aspects of the production, was the clever casting. It was almost as if each role was written for the individual performer. The students had to audition for their roles meaning that Kansley and Linderts were able to cast the show with intelligence and they had the ability to engineer each role to play to the performers strengths and showcase their talent. This was incredibly important as the Diploma assessors and agents were watching! It was clear that the dialogue had been extensively explored and redefined for each individual. For such complex language the delivery was accessible and engaging, demonstrating a deep understanding of the text and professional technique from each student.
This contemporary take on a classic play was a brilliantly orchestrated production. The themes explored during the show were boldly presented and made the content fresh and relevent. The role reversals were unapologetic, and a strong representation of Wac Arts core values. Most importantly however, was the high quality of performance from the Diploma students. Their three years of intense training in the performing arts shone through, proving themselves to be industry ready professionals and Wac Arts continues to supply a pipeline of diverse artists into the industry.
By Natasha Mayo
Senior Wac Arts attendee and Marcomms Volunteer
Are you interested in full time performing arts training or know someone who would benefit from this opportunity?
The Wac Arts Level 6 Diploma in Professional Musical Theatre has auditions on August 1st and Mid September (date TBC) to start the 3 year full-time course in late September 2018.
The course is at the forefront in performing arts training. The exciting programme offers not only a traditional, classical and contemporary syllabus but also performance techniques from around the world; Horton and Afro-fusion dance, Indian song, aerial skills, songwriting, puppetry and lots more. The focus is on young people leaving ready for a lifelong career in the arts and with 100% of grads between 2012-2017 going onto get representation or a professional job within 6 months of leaving. Small class sizes, professional development, holistic care and teachers who also work in the industry, Wac Arts knows what you need to succeed in today’s performing arts industry.
“Wac Arts is transformational”
David Blake; Wac Arts Tutor and currently performing in the west end as Banzai in Disney’s The Lion King
Bursaries for course fees and auditions are all still available!