Behind the Beautiful Forevers
by David Hare based on the book by Katherine Boo
directed by Rufus Norris
originally produced at National Theatre,
November 10, 2014
through April 13, 2015
India is surging with global ambition. But beyond the luxury hotels surrounding Mumbai airport lies a makeshift slum, full of people with plans of their own.
Zehrunisa and her son Abdul aim to recycle enough rubbish to fund a proper house. Sunil, twelve and stunted, wants to eat until he’s as tall as Kalu the thief. Asha seeks to steal government anti-poverty funds to turn herself into a ‘first-class person’, while her daughter Manju intends to become the slum’s first female graduate.
But their schemes are fragile; global recession threatens the garbage trade, and another slum-dweller is about to make an accusation that will destroy herself and shatter the neighbourhood.
Katherine Boo's extraordinary book documents the lives of residents of the Mumbai slum Annawadi with brutal honesty and gritty compassion. It shows their emotional resilience and entrepreneurial spirit in the absence of any welfare system and in the teeth of conditions which are the dark underside of our new globalised world and the 'Indian economic miracle'. David Hare's adaptation of the material puts this experience onto our stage and shows our audience directly how the majority of inhabitants of our planet struggle to find shelter, feed themselves and their families and look for the means to improve the lot of their children in circumstances of extreme poverty, corruption and deprivation.
--Nicholas Hytner, Director, National Theatre
This is a major production even for an organisation with the scale and resources of the National Theatre. This grant has enabled the creative team to embody the size and scope of the community and the multiple narratives depicted in the source book by enhancing the cast numbers; and it has facilitated a design which uses largely found materials to create a visual language appropriate to the this makeshift location in the shadow of the New India, with its intercontinental hotels and ultra-modern airport.
Director: Rufus Norris
Set Design: Katrina Lindsay
Lighting Design: Paule Constable
Sound Design: Paul Arditti
Costume Design: Katrina Lindsay
Additional creative team: Jack Henry James (Video Designer), Kate Waters (Fight Director), Jeanette Nelson (Company Voice Work), Daniele Lydon (Company Voice Work), Zabarjad Salam (Dialect Coach)
Cast: Talia Ashe, Alyssa Birrer, Rodney Gardiner, Jason Gotay, Kyle Hines, Curtis Holland, Briawna Jackson, Ashley D. Kelley, David Kelly, Miriam A. Laube, Michele Mais, Bonnie Milligan, Javier Munoz, Barret O'Brien, Shanti Ryle, Britney Simpson, Jonathan Luke Stevens, John Tufts