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The Manganiyar Seduction - Review

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by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
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A world musical performance that gets people to their feet
Every now and then, an international acts hits the world that just amazes and delights everyone who sees it. One of these is The Manganiyar Seduction, currently on a short tour of Australia and a longer continuing tour of the world. Catch these amazing musicians from Rajasthan in the desert region of northern India for an unforgettable performance.

Photo courtesy of QPAC
Photo courtesy of QPAC


The Performers

The Manganiyar people live in the desert region of Northern India and parts of Pakistan. For generations, their folk musicians have entertained rich patrons in their area while also performing at important cultural events in the lives of local people: including births, marriages and every family event. The musicians are also keepers of their community's rich oral history. Their songs tell tales of events ranging back to Alexander the Great and beyond.

One of the performers from The Manganiyar Seduction outside of QPAC in Brisbane
One of the performers from The Manganiyar Seduction outside of QPAC in Brisbane


In recent years, their traditional patronage has disappeared, but their traditions continue. Since the 1970s, programs have been in place to take this fantastic musical tradition out into the world where they have wowed audiences and inspired others with their deep and powerful music.

Some of the performers One of the performers from The Manganiyar Seduction
Some of the performers One of the performers from The Manganiyar Seduction


These are musicians and singers who sit while performing. This puts all their energy into the song. Musically listening to them perform is one of the most vibrant experiences you have ever had. Which is why at the end of The Manganiyar Seduction the audience rises to its feet and claps louder than any applause I have ever heard before.

The show

The Manganiyar Seduction was put together by noted classically trained, Indian actor, playwright and director. His career in actor started by forming the Indian Shakespeare Company and moved beyond that. Internationally, he is best known for directing productions involving Indian folk performers.

Photo courtesy of QPAC
Photo courtesy of QPAC


The show was inspired after Roysten was performing in Spain where, in the play, Manganiyar musicians were accompanying him on stage. He was, as the name suggested, seduced by this long musical tradition and like all lovers, he pined for their presence in his life. Some people just pine, others travel to the desert to recruit 40 performers into what became an internationally acclaimed show.

Among the many challenges or presenting these performers, who sit to sing and play, is to make the show visually as well as audibly spectacular. Roysten has achieved this by filling the stage with 4 levels of boxes. The design is inspired by red light districts, which is of course, part of the seduction theme. But really it is just a clever way to reveal, emphasise and display the musicians for a modern audience.

The verdict

I had the great privilege of seeing The Manganiyar Seduction at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane. Having long loved this type of music, I was looking forward to the performance. What I experienced went beyond my expectations. The production takes the music and, while remaining true to it, presents it in a visually spectacular way.

The Queensland Performing Arts Centre at South Bank
The Queensland Performing Arts Centre at South Bank


Their current Australian tour includes The State Theatre in Melbourne on the 6th to 7th of March and Womadelaide in Adelaide from the 9th to 12th March.
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*Roy Chambers was invited as a guest
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Why? A world musical performance that gets people to their feet
Where: State Theatre in Melbourne, Womadelaide in Adelaide
Cost: Melbourne from $99, Womadelaide from $148
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