Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) has teamed up with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra to spearhead a groundbreaking new campaign which hopes to lower the average age of opera audiences in the UK. The partnership has already developed a modern take on Brecht’s classic ‘The Threepenny Opera’ for a younger generation which will be performed at the Lighthouse in Poole on 24-25 May.

With the average age of opera audiences now believed to be sixty-five and over, AUB have developed a modern production of the Brecht classic to engage younger audiences with, what it believes to be, an important medium of artistic expression. Bringing the opera right up-to-date, the production will be based in the dystopian underworld of the future and will be performed by some of AUB’s graduate actors. On hand to provide the live music for this groundbreaking production will be Kokoro, the acclaimed contemporary music ensemble of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra who will be performing Kurt Weill’s original score.

With the aim of making the production more appealing to a younger audience, AUB students have put their creative minds to the test by creating all of the futuristic set and costume designs, as well as providing the make-up artistry for the performance which will see the re-styling of classic characters like ‘Mack the Knife’ and Polly Peachum into pimps, gangsters and hustlers.

In addition, AUB students have embarked on a guerilla marketing campaign to accompany the new production which sees the themes of the opera played out against a dark future vision of Poole town.  Incorporating provocative slogans into their work, the marketing tactics for the show have included the use of ‘clean graffiti’ in the local area, as well as the dropping of guitar plectrums branded with in local music venues, clubs and bars with the aim of leading the general public to a mysterious website outlining the opera’s plot and central characters.

The project has been developed to get more young people thinking about opera and how it can become relevant to their own lives. AUB’s aim is to open young people up to different cultural experience, in order for them to explore alternative ways of expressing themselves artistically.

The show’s Director, Senior Lecturer Ellie Nixon commented; “It very hard for young people to relate to the opera, as many of them don’t think it’s got anything to say about their own lives. However, in keeping with Brecht’s original intention of making opera accessible to all people regardless of class, age or background, we’ve turned this classic on its head and given it a new look and feel for the twenty-first century. We hope our production will give young people insight into how this classic form of artistic expression can help to give them a voice about their own thoughts and feelings in today’s society.

“Every aspect of this production has had the famous collaborative AUB treatment – from the actors performing the piece, right down to the creation of the stage sets and the innovative marketing we’ve used to attract young people to the Lighthouse. Essentially, this production is one created by young people, for young people – and we hope to see lots of them on the night for what will be a truly spectacular production.”

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