The Manganiyar Seduction Comes to Brisbane

This is how it’s been described and now Brisbane can experience The Manganiyar Seduction for itself, when the show, acclaimed as one of the most original and mesmerising live performances on earth, is staged at QPAC’s Concert Hall on March 1 and 2 this year.

The Manganiyar Seduction stars 40 musicians from three generations of Manganiyars performing in a 36-windowed ‘jewel box’ onstage, with the songs slowly building to giddying heights.

Celebrating the music of the Manganiyars, a caste of desert musicians from the heart of the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, The Manganiyar Seduction has received long-held standing ovations all over the world, from Salzburg and Vienna, to New York, Singapore, Washington, Paris and Hong Kong. NOW IT’S BRISBANE’S TURN!

TICKETS ON SALE NOW at or call 136 246 – a special family ticket (2 adults and 2 children 15 years and under) has been announced!!

Described as “rapturous… jaw-dropping… buoyant… compelling…tranquil…” by The New York Times, The Manganiyar Seduction is presented in Brisbane by Arts Projects Australia in association with QPAC and presented as part of BrisAsia Festival.

The show was first created to open the Delhi Film Festival in 2006. It’s rousing success, incredible originality and intense musicality has seen it tour the globe ever since. The project allowed Director Roysten Abel to collaborate with the Manganiyar musicians for the first time, with the concept a dazzling union between the Manganiyar’s music and the visual seduction of Amsterdam’s red light district. The set is a combination of the Hawa Mahal Palace in Jaipur and the red light district, and is often compared to a jewel box.

Forty musicians are seated in 36 red-curtained cubicles arranged in four horizontal rows one on top of the other; and the concert begins when a single cubicle lights up and the first singer begins his song. Soon another cubicle lights up and then another thus creating a dramatic and astounding build-up of musical instruments and voice as these extraordinary Manganiyar musicians transport audiences to another world. As the ensemble grows in number and the sound gathers momentum, the skin-pricking climax is heralded by an sumptuous light show as all the pods glow and pulsate along with the musical rhythms in an extraordinary original concept, brilliantly executed.

The Manganiyars are a caste of Muslim musicians who are predominantly settled in the districts of Jaisalmer, Barmer and Jodhpur, in the heart of the Thar Desert. They traditionally performed for Kings, however over the years their patrons have shifted from Kings to people who could give them a meal. It was in the 1970’s 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.

Director Roysten Abel has reversed the usual practice of using music for theatre, and instead, uses theatre to create magic in music. He describes 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.”

WHEN: Thursday and Friday, March 1 and 1, 2018 at 8 pm
LOCATION: Queensland Performing Arts Centre
TICKETS: or call 136 246
Special Family ticket – 2 adults & 2 children (children must be 15 and under) – Res A $279.50 and Res B $249.50

The production last toured to Australia for Melbourne Festival 2011, Perth Festival 2011 and Sydney Festival 2010.

Its 2018 season will take in WOMADelaide, Arts Centre Melbourne and Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Brisbane. The show is 70 mins with no interval.

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