BENGALURU: Can you present a play on the glitzy, fast-paced and blinged up life of hip-hop stars with a chair and a backdrop, and one actor playing 17 roles? Yes and it can be done in an exciting new format called the Hip Hopera, for being an intersection between Hip Hop and Opera.
The play Brotherhood - The Hip Hopera, which will parody the life of two brothers living the “hip-hop life”, will be performed by Sebastien Heins at The Humming Tree in Indiranagar. The Canada-based actor will use Hip Hop, Rap and elements of Reggae and Dancehall for this full-on entertainer.
Quasar Thakore Padamsee, whose theatre company QTP is bringing the show to Bengaluru, says, “It will be an unusual piece of theatre, basically a musical theatre using Hip Hop, music, dance and lyrics to tell the story of two brothers who are rap singers.” He promises an “energetic mad show”.
The Hip Hopera has not really made much of an impact in India, though QTP is just done with their Mumbai run seeing full-house on four nights. “But it was a small theatre,” says Quasar, “which can hold 100 people”.
QTP picked a grungy, non-formal theatre space called Sitara Studio because Quasar says the performance is more like a gig than theatre.
“You don’t need the entire focus or energy of the audience, gigs are like reading a blog and theatre is a book,” he says, adding that it is also theatre. “It (Brotherhood) straddles both.” Quasar is the son of theatre artiste and filmmaker Alyque Padamsee.
Internationally, Hip Hopera is doing extraordinarily well with Hamilton. “Tickets are being sold in black for $10,000,” says Quasar. “There is clearly a movement towards hip-hop story telling... even with artistes like Eminem, essentially their songs are telling stories.”
Hip Hop is rising in popularity. “It is an unadulterated form,” says Quasar, “it is not polite and sweet and anyone can do it. You don’t need to be trained or know the C-minor or B-flat. This form is democratic and anyone can do it if you follow a beat, and rhythm is so primal... like our heartbeat.”
Quasar was bowled over by Brotherhood when he saw few minutes of it in Canada. Then he invited Sebastien to hold a workshop at his school Thespo. “There he did 15 minutes of it and we knew we had to make this happen (bring the show to India,” says the theatre actor and director. “After much humming and hawing, making a budget, we finally found a way.”
He calls Brotherhood an “incredibly crafted play”. “It is a story with a lot of heart, there is family, belonging, hardship, success and excess... there is heart and craft,” says the artiste, laughing at the intented pun.The storyline is of two brothers who see success as Hip Hop stars and lead the life of excess and bling, and what becomes of them.
Did the story decide the form? “Any story can be told by Hip Hopera,” says Quasar. Hamilton is on the American statesmen and one of the founding fathers of the US. “He is 400 or 300 years old and dead,” says Quasar, “and in the play you have guys in wigs rapping”.There will be plenty of Hip Hop reference in Brotherhood but Quasar says that anyone can follow it. “In Mumbai, we had senior citizens who had not heard a Rap track in their life and they could follow it,” he says. “It is the music (which people follow).”