Annawadi, India – One Person’s Trash is Another’s Treasure – “Epic. Heartbreaking. Honest.”

I have said it once before, and of course, if you say it again, it is something memorable.  On September 21st, I went to a production of Behind the Beautiful Forevers – and had no idea what that meant or what this would entail.  The trailer, watching it now, brings back the amazing production this turned out to be.  I DID know it was a production from the National Theatre in London and past performances had never let me down yet.  That was incentive enough, and the fact that is was at the Lunario, and attending with those that love the theatre, production, etc, how could you go wrong?

When entering the first thing I noticed was that the audience – half full compared to when I had been there for Warhorse, but I thought, that was Warhorse.  As the production began, and studying the program and seeing that this was based on the Pulitzer Winning book by Katherine Boo, I was drawn to the scurrying and action in the shadows as the production began.  I also noticed the Indian music, seemingly straight out of SlumDog Millionaire, and I was caught already. 

What would unfold was a tale that showed, the littlest look into neighborhoods often looked down on, or painstakenly trying to be ignored, actually hold some of the most valuable treasures.  Of course the countless lessons of being grateful for the very things we take for granted everyday, tossing complaints about money to the wind when there are individuals grateful for the crumbs they find in the refuse, as well as simply realizing, humanity is not contained to a country, continent, or part of the world.

Add to all this the first time an Asian cast has performed on the London Theatre Stage, combined with hysterical quips that go straight to the heart of the matter of trul, what means individuals HAVE to go to to get to what really matters.  I am desperate to read the book after seeing the depth the characters, whether main or supporting, brought to this production.

Realizing this was based on the true experiences of author Boo in Annawadi, and seeing the inspirational talents of English playwright David Hare bringing this to life on stage, coupled with Rufus Norris, now director of the National Theatre, pushes empathy across the stage at a rapid pace – and lets it sink it to your psyche afterwards – this was a truly brilliant experience.

I also enjoyed the leads of women that showed how they controlled their own destinies and fate in a world that was full of men seeping up the results.  The matriarch roles were flawless, and often referred to the world around them and how they managed to survive through the toughest of circumstances.

Shane Zaza, as Abdul Husain, truly remains the pivotal character that not only recycles as a way of life, but recycles his soul through a complicated and Ulysses-like modern day journey.  Yet he still is able to maintain his heart and soul, which you will find comes ot the edge of the breaking point, MANY times.

When you leave with something more than you came with that is a true gift.  Even moreso, is the fact that you enter a situation not knowing anything about what is to unfold, a clean slate if you will, and being able to judge how you live your life and how it can be better, for those around you in this world where you find yourself.  That might be the priceless result of such an experience, and Behind the Beautiful Forevers does a great job in taking you there.  I can hardly wait to get my hands on this book!


About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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