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Monday, April 6, 2015


(Meera Syal (left) who leads the cast)

National Theatre Live enables audiences to experience the best of British theatre throughout the year, as the NT brings cameras into the auditorium to record and broadcast performances from stage to screen. Over three and a half million people have experienced a National Theatre Live broadcast via satellite, both live and time-delayed, in more than 2,000 venues in over 40 different countries around the world, including South Africa. National Theatre Live events are distributed outside the UK through New York-based BY Experience, the pioneer of global live “alternative content” digital cinema events.

A new play from renowned British playwright David Hare, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, is now being screened in Cinema Nouveau theatres, launching the new season from National Theatre Live. Based on the book by Pulitzer Prize-winner Katherine Boo and directed by Rufus Norris, the production was filmed for cinema broadcast from the National’s Olivier Theatre in London.

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 (Meera Syal) 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 Zehrunisa herself, and shatter the neighbourhood.

Katherine Boo spent three years in Annawadi recording the lives of its residents. From her uncompromising, award-winning book, David Hare has fashioned a tumultuous play on an epic scale.

Meera Syal is known to a huge television and film audience for work including Goodness Gracious Me, The Kumars, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Absolutely Anything, Scoop and Anita and Me (from her own book). Her theatre work includes Rafta, Rafta for the National Theatre, Much Ado About Nothing (RSC), The Killing of Sister George (West End) and Shirley Valentine (Menier Chocolate Factory).

David Hare has written 15 original plays for the National Theatre, including The Power of Yes, Gethsemane, Stuff Happens, The Permanent Way, Amy’s View, Skylight (screened recently at Cinema Nouveau), The Secret Rapture, The Absence of War, Murmuring Judges, Racing Demon, Pravda (written with Howard Brenton) and Plenty. His many screenplays include Turks and Caicos, Salting the Battlefield, Page Eight, The Hours and The Reader.

Katherine Boo is a staff writer at The New Yorker and a former reporter and editor for The Washington Post. Her first book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, also won the 2013 PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award and was a 2013 Pulitzer Finalist.

Rufus Norris is the new Director of the National Theatre, where he has directed Table, The Amen Corner, London Road, Death and the King's Horseman and Market Boy. Screen work includes Broken, which won the British Independent Film Award for Best Film, and the film of London Road which will be released in June.

The production is designed by Katrina Lindsay, with lighting by Paule Constable, sound by Paul Arditti, fight direction by Kate Waters and video design by Jack Henry James. 

Behind the Beautiful Forevers will have two more screenings at Cinema Nouveau theatres in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town on April 8 and 9 at 19h30. The running time of this production is 2hrs 50mins, including a 20-min interval.

For booking information, download the Ster-Kinekor App on any Nokia, Samsung Android, iPhone or Blackberry smart phone for updates, news and to make a booking. Visit or sterkinekor.mob. Follow on Twitter @nouveaubuzz and on Facebook at Cinema Nouveau. For queries, contact Ticketline on 0861 Movies (668 437).