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Dirty Dealings Done with Elegance in “The Threepenny Opera”


Valencia (CA) – The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht with music by Kurt Weill, will be presented by the California Institute of the Arts School of Theater, directed by MFA directing candidate Kameron Steele.  Brecht’s groundbreaking music theater work retells the classic tale of the dealings of the treacherous “Mack the Knife” in turn-of-the-century London’s seedy underbelly.  The Threepenny Opera will be performed at the Walt Disney Modular Theater at California Institute of the Arts, 24700 McBean Parkway, Valenica, CA  91355.  Performances begin at 8:00 pm on November 15th, 2013 and conclude on November 22nd, 2013.  For a detailed list of performances and to secure tickets, please visit www.calarts.edu/events.  

The Threepenny Opera, based on John Gay’s The Beggars Opera, follows the trials and tribulations of the thieving, philandering Macheath as he marries Polly Peachum on the eve of Queen Victoria’s coronation.  Director Steele re-imagines the story on a twenty-four foot wide pool of water.  The sixteen-member cast will be accompanied by a seven-member band, composed of students of the Herb Alpert School of Music, led by Jonathan Freilich. 

“CalArts’ production of The Threepenny Opera takes maximum advantage of the vast Modular Theatre, featuring…a kabuki-inspired hanamichi bridge that plunges into a 23 foot-wide reflecting pool,” notes Steele.  “Two tiers of video projections, animation, fantastical costumes, extreme makeup and moving lights interweave with visceral performances to galvanize Brecht's timeless assault on the status quo.  Created to interrogate our notions of religion, crime, money, sex, race, love and middle-class morality, The Threepenny Opera promises to challenge our perceptions of ourselves, and the communities we live in,” he added.

Bertolt Brecht (playwright) was born in Bavaria in 1898.  Though born of modest means, he became well known in Germany and abroad as a playwright, dramaturg, poet, essayist, and director of stage and film.  With The Berliner Ensemble in the early 1900’s he carried out his vision of “Epic Theater” through Germany and abroad, influenced by his modest childhood, cabaret theater, and the early silent film work of Charlie Chaplin and German actor Karl Valentin.  His most noted plays are Mother Courage and her Children, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, and in collaboration with composer Kurt Weill, The Rise and all of the City of Mahagony, and The Seven Deadly Sins.

Kurt Weill (composer) was born in Germany in 1900.  Also from meager means, Weill became a famous composer in Germany from his work with Bertolt Brecht and his wife, singer Lotte Lenya.  After ending his collaboration with Brecht and in peril from the Nazi government, Weill moved to the United States where he composed several stage hits, including Street Scene, Knickerbocker Holiday, and Lost in the Stars.  In addition to numerous stage works, Weill continued to compose chamber music and vocal music, as well as film scores.  He is considered highly influential in both classical and jazz music, with his work being recorded and performed live by artists as varied as Nina Simone, David Bowie, The Doors, Marianne Faithful, and Nina Hagen.

After receiving his BFA from Northwestern University in 1991, Kameron Steele (director) joined the Suzuki Company of Toga, Japan where he has since worked as an actor and assistant director.  Steele has also worked extensively with Robert Wilson and the Watermill Center, where he founded The South Wing in 2003.  Steele’s directorial work has since been seen in Belgium (STUK), Spain (Institute del Teatre), France (Begat Theatre), Mexico (Teatro Degollado), Argentina (Teatro Mendoza) and New York (HERE, PS122, The Public, LMCC, PRELUDE, Three Legged Dog, Chelsea Studios, Japan Society)


Last edited by ccrawford on Nov 07, 2013
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