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The Manganiyar Seduction at QPAC

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by Kiesten McCauley (subscribe)
My early career was in teaching, writing, producing and directing for theatre, comedy and impro shows. Now I'm a professional creative person. Mostly high-end branding, strategy, writing, editing and digital content creation.
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A mind-blowing musical theatre experience
Manganiyar, seduction, roysten, abel, Brisbane, music, live, indian, qpac, march
Visually and Musically Stunning.

Are you ready for one of the most unique shows you'll ever see? The mesmerising and musical The Manganiyar Seduction is coming to Brisbane in 2018 and tickets are on sale now. On the first Thursday and Friday in March, 40 musicians from three generations of Manganiyars will perform in a stunning 36-windowed 'jewel box' set, resplendent with dozens of glowing light bulbs (pictured).

Before writing this I had to see for myself just what the show entailed. One Google later and I was hooked. Many of the songs start with one or two people, softly and simply. As the tune progresses, more and more vocalists and instruments are added. Songs build to an intense crescendo, delivering a literal wall of sound. It's visually stunning with the combination of white-robed performers, red-curtained window boxes and clever lighting.

Who are the Manganiyars?

The Manganiyars are said to have their origins in the Dholi musician caste. They mostly come from Jaisalmer, Barmer and Jodhpur, in the Thar Desert. The Manganiyars say that music is 'in their blood'.

"They traditionally performed for Kings, however over the years their patrons have shifted from Kings to people who could give them a meal," their representative told Weekend Notes.

"It was in the 1970s that ethno musicologist the late Komal Kothari discovered them and gave them a new life in contemporary times, and spaces. Their repertoire includes ballads about the Kings and also Sufi poems written by various mystics. They have songs for birth, marriage, feasts and more, and even though they are classified as folk musicians, their traditional music is classical and it clearly indicates the roots of classical music in India. It is the combination of raw folk with the complexity of classical music that makes them so special."

Manganiyar, seduction, roysten, abel, Brisbane, music, live, indian, qpac, march
Get Ready to be Seduced.

What Instruments do they Play?

Aside from amazing vocals, instruments include…

Kamaicha – a bowed stringed instrument with skin membrane sounding board.

Dholak – a barrel-drum with drum skins on both ends of the barrel.

Kartal – clappers made from wood.

Morchan – you'd know this one as a 'jaws harp'.

Alghoza – a sweet-sounding double flute often made of wood.

Venu (Carnatic flute) Pullanguzhal – the flute you associate with snake charmers.

Manganiyar, seduction, roysten, abel, Brisbane, music, live, indian, qpac, march
This Show's Sure to Enthrall You.

About The Manganiyar Seduction

Director Roysten Abel described what he calls, his 'First Seduction',

"While directing a play in Spain in 2006, I was accompanied by two Manganiyar musicians who formed part of the company. They would follow me and play music in all the places I went, most of the time overlooking the decorum of that space. I would wake up and sleep to their playing over the course of a fortnight, during which time a strange psychological event took place. Having left for Germany to direct another production, I realised that I missed the music so I would call them and ask them to sing over the phone. I was totally seduced."

"Returning to India filled with inspiration, I wanted to translate this seduction into a physical realm. For some reason, my experience made me think of a red light district, bordering on the burlesque inside my head, heart and body. I thought of windows in Indian palaces where women folk would view ceremonies or processions while unwittingly becoming the subjects of voyeurism themselves. For me, these windows came alive with musicians. I went to Jaisalmer and auditioned a thousand musicians, from whom I selected 45. The Manganiyars were not accustomed to rehearsals and I was attempting to translate an experience into a piece of theatre. We got into the process of understanding and trusting each other over a three-year period before arriving at The Manganiyar Seduction. But even after hearing it a thousand times, it still has the power to seduce me."

If you're in the mood to be seduced too, The Manganiyar Seduction will play for two shows only at Queensland Performing Arts Centre on Thursday March 1 and Friday March 2, 2018. Tickets on sale from December 1 at or call 136 246.

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Why? It's a Singular Musical Theatre Experience
When: Thursday and Friday, March 1 and 2, 2018 at 8 pm
Phone: 136 246
Where: Concert Hall, Queensland Performing Arts Centre
Cost: $99 - $124
Your Comment
Great article Kiesten. I had not heard of them before.
by May Cross (score: 3|3942) 361 days ago
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