33 - Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies
I - Performance
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Set in the East End of London in 1888, the opera places a young female dual heritage black character, ‘the greener’ – cockney slang for immigrant - at the centre of a diverse cast, in order to problematize the notion of ‘otherness’ by constructing her as exemplifying the ‘local’. Conversely, the opera treats the ethnicity of the white characters as the same as the ‘other’ ethnicities, to create a culturally inclusive form that contests homogenous and discriminatory constructions of the nation. Archival research informed the creation of historically accurate characters.
In its exploration of ways of including ‘other’ voices through performance, the opera draws on the musical, historical and linguistic contexts and heritages of the characters to inscribe the score with difference. Integrating the idioms of the English Music Hall and the vocal styles associated with it with the improvisational ghazal of South Asian classical tradition translated into the Western classical form, Hingorani develops a unique methodology, enabling singers from musical theatre, who often sing by ear, to work with those classically trained, who can usually sight-read.
The opera has served to increase the number of leading roles for BAME artists in the repertoire, challenging the perception of opera as an inevitably culturally elitist art form by creating ‘authentic’ BAME characters, rooted in archival research. The opera also engages with issues of decoloniality in relation to museum archives through the re-articulation and staging of ‘hidden’ BAME histories in live performance in museum sites, including the British Museum, 2015 and Hackney Museums, 2015.
London South Bank as part of the ‘Alchemy on Tour’ at Cast Theatre, Doncaster, 2015.
Cast Theatre Doncaster 15/16 April 2016.
Hackney Empire 20-22 April 2016.