Into the blue

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Mumbai’s slums come alive in an innovative stage performance

Colourful, energetic, foot-tapping music and musical instruments – lots of instruments, dance, narration and a giant screen reflecting sand art; this 90-minute performance was evocative of familiar scenarios in India. India Stories, a performance presented by DeepBlue and Brisbane Powerhouse, enthralled a multicultural audience from 2- 4 July at the Brisbane Powerhouse in New Farm.

To understand more about behind the scenes workings of the show, Indian Link caught up with Greta Kelly, one of the performers from the self-described “indie orchestra” DeepBlue.

“We toured India in 2012 performing in cities like Delhi, Ahmedabad and Mumbai. Mumbai is where the concept of Indian Stories was conceived,” Kelly said.

DeepBlue comprises 17 performers who have translated the sights and sounds of Mumbai into an electric routine through drama and circus tricks and musical instruments like the bass, cello, violin, tabla, shahi bajaa and shah keman.

Kelly said the group became acquainted with communities like Dharavi Rocks and the Akon Foundation in Dharavi where children are taught to make and play musical instruments out of recyclable products.

India Stories is about the growing divide between the rich and the poor, Hindus and Muslims, and the performance ends on a note of harmony, friendship and community. One of our violinists, Imogen Gilfedder-Cooney, narrates the story beautifully in-between pieces.”

Siddhi Yadav, the Mumbai-based sand artist, depicted the scenes in beautiful sand illustrations created using her fingertips to the rhythm of the music.

Talking about a unique app generated to allow DeepBlue a greater connection with their audience, Kelly said, “At the start of each of our performances the audience were allowed access to DeepBlue’s Electronic Show Program (ESP) through their smart phones. This ESP gave the audience an opportunity to express their views about the show and access information about India Stories.”

The India Stories performances also paved the way for communities across Brisbane to showcase their talents as part of the Young-Blue program, where young musicians are given an opportunity to perform at the show under the guidance of their teachers, who are a part of DeepBlue.

Choral-Blue, a community choir comprising members of all age groups, were given the opportunity to showcase their singing talent. “We believe music and theatre can bring the entire community under one roof and this is a key message of India Stories,” Greta Kelly said.

So, what next?

“DeepBlue has an exciting event in the near future,” Kelly said. “We are headed into the future with our next show – a collaboration with performing robots. It’s an exciting mix of science, music, theatre and acrobatics.”

DeepBlue will be performing on 23 August at the Queensland University of Technology’s Garden Point Campus in Brisbane.