Tag Archives: Weill

Is Social Media the Fifth Wall of Theatre? #OnlyInMahagonny


Indulge me.

I would like to introduce you to two men.

Paul Gallagher

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Kurt Furey

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Paul is a travel blogger who has recently returned from South America and has been employed by Threepenny Travel. You can follow him on twitter @paulgallagher92 here and read his blog here.

His first assignment is to track down the enigmatic Kurt Furey.

Kurt is no ordinary man as his twitter handle suggests @kurtthefurey and he has recently been posting some very odd ‘Commandments’ through twitter and his youtube account.

Here is an example.

If you are on twitter I suggest that you give them a follow because if (when) Paul manages to track down Kurt I get the feeling that there will be more than sparks.

Paul and Kurt only exist on social media and they both have a one way ticket to the fictitious city of Mahagonny (pronounced Ma-Ha-Gonny). Mahagonny itself is a city which sprang forth from the mind of Bertholt Brecht and the music of Kurt Weill when they wrote the Opera “The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny”.

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Mahagonny stood for everything that is wrong about capitalism as Brecht and Weill saw in 1930s Germany. It is a city that develops initially to provide people with goods but ends up reducing everything to a commodity. A live current which touches many people living in Ireland today.

Over the next ten days you can follow Paul Gallagher as he meets Kurt the Furey who will lead us deep into the corrupt, hedonistic heart of Mahagonny. On the thirteenth of June the fusion of opera, jazz and cabaret that is “The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny” (produced by Rough Magic Theatre Company and Opera.ie) will be start a short run in the Olympia Theatre.

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This production is reflecting the 4th wall breaking tendency of Brecht who dared to connect straight to his audience and promises to be an almost interactive theatrical experience. The social media skills of Maverick TV have created what you might call a fifth wall of theatre by drawing the online audience into the world of Mahagonny before the run in the theatre begins.

I feel that Brecht would have approved.

Anyone who knows me will appreciate that I love the idea.

The concept was a winner of the Sky Arts Ignition Award

Keep an eye on the hashtag #onlyinmahagonny and enter the city here if you dare…

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The Threepenny Opera at The Gate Theatre


Mr. and Mrs. Peachum try to break up the marriage of their daughter Polly to the notorious thief, murderer and rapist Mac The Knife.

The Gate Theatre

I had only heard about The Threepenny Opera in passing until The Gate Theatre announced it was putting on a production. I did not even know that the song “Mac The Knife” originally came from this play but I did have an idea that is was the one of the first productions that merged music and drama in one setting making it one of the early precursors to the modern Musical.

So small was my knowledge that I did not even realise that (until the curtain opened) Mac the Knife was the main character. We were given a splendid and menacing rendition of the original lyric of Mac the Knife which sets the scene and leaves us in no doubt that this incredibly dangerous man is back in town.

The Threepenny Opera

There is always a period of adjustment when experiencing a play. The actors do their part but the audience must also do their part to lend themselves to the performance. I was disappointed that it took a longer time than usual for the players, play and audience to settle. It seemed to only gel after the first act. I want to put this down to it being the last preview before opening night because the rest of the play was great fun.

Even though the play is set in London they chose to only have 3 or 4 characters speak in that accent while the others all spoke with Dublin accents. There was enough swearing to bother some of the more conservative theatre goers.

But in saying that once it gelled and the players clicked it was very entertaining, funny, sexy and well directed. The songs were emotive and the dance routines amusing and very well-choreographed, especially on the space restricted stage of The Gate Theatre, which also held the small orchestra for the entire performance. There is not one morally stable character in the play yet between them all you will find yourself empathising as the emotional stakes rise throughout. These vagabonds mirror high society by clinging on to what ever morals they can grasp to inflate their own egos.

Some of the problems with the early part of the show manifested themselves in comic lines being lost on the audience. I must keep reminding myself that it was a preview because the play itself should be watched by anyone with an interest in the history of theatre and musicals in particular. If you have seen either Cabaret or West Side Story there is no doubt that they were directly influenced by this seemingly flippant but deceptively deep, humanist and humourous adaptation of the classic by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill.

I will try to catch another performance later on in the run

6/10

The Threepenny Opera is playing at the Gate Theatre until November 16 2013