CHENNAI: The buzz begins backstage. Under yellow vanity lights, youngsters run around for costume fittings, piece together props, sip hot water for a clear throat, and practise their lines. Awaiting cues from their director, the students of Women’s Christian College are gearing up for their annual college play this Thursday. This year, the 23-member cast and 60 crew members are bringing to life the characters from German playwright Bertolt Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera.
Upholding a rich theatre tradition for 110 years, the college has now come up with a play of satire that offers a critique of the corrupt rich society. The play puts a spotlight on the working-class community as they deal with the aftermath of World War I. “The Threepenny Opera is set in the middle of the 19th century, but we will be setting the play 100 years later, between two world wars,” says Regin Rose, director. Primarily set in London, the themes of The Threepenny Opera are universal and connect with contemporary socio-political, and economic issues.
Running for about one hour and 40 minutes, the musical will be professional, the director confirms After all, since July, the cast and crew have been attending multiple theatre and acting workshops. “A lot of the cast and crew members are first-timers, for them, it is an experience coming on stage and facing a crowd. There are also a few students who have been participating for the second time now. For them, this practice helps them build a career in that field,” explains Jeevlin Abraham, assistant professor in the English department, and production coordinator.
Of spotlight and subtext
Apart from the audition process and getting into the character’s skin, the students say that the roles they play are relatable. “I see a lot of myself in it. He (Captain Macheath) is very confident and charming and that is how I am in my life,” smirks Neha Verghis, who will play the protagonist on stage. She also affirms that the workshops helped her get into the character and gel along with other elements on stage. Reyan Kuriyan who plays the antagonist, Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum, says, “I feel like I am turning into my character.”
Talking about the musical, the students say that “things are not predictable” and the audience should look out for every scene so that they don’t miss out on details. “There are subtexts that the audience will get. We are just trying to convey more things on a lighter note,” adds Gayathri SaiKrishnan, cast in the role of Polly Peachum. Often, the world is misconstrued as black and white but the cast aims to showcase various shades of life through the musical.
Crediting the crew for their support, the cast members say, “We are just on stage, there are so many other things that happen backstage. The credits goes to people working behind without limelight. They run 90 per cent of the show.” As the students return to rehearsal to polish their act, the students are sure they’ll continue to be starstruck by their characters for a long time. Not revealing any more details about the play, the cast and crew expect spectators to enjoy the labour of their hard work.
The play will be held on September 14, 15, and 16 at 6.30 p.m. in the WCC auditorium. Ticket prices range from `200 to `1,000. For details, reach out to email@example.com