Beneath the Music

Jay Emmanuel

Beneath the Music is an exploration of the journey from resistance to acceptance of queerness, especially by those we hold dear. Created by Jay Emmanuel and written by Karthika Naïr, this poetic new physical theatre work is, above all, a celebration of gender fluidity and queerness across generations, traditions, and cultures.

Keshav and his husband are settling into their first home together in Australia. When Keshav is asked by his mother to return to India to help the family, he must confront her disapproval of who he is and the life he has chosen. A surprise encounter with an ancient festival and a traditional Indian story help mother and son on the road to love’s acknowledgment and acceptance.

Partly drawn from French-Indian poet Karthika Naïr’s award-winning book Until the Lions, Beneath the Music looks at this Indian classic through queer eyes to uncover and celebrate different cultural and generational ideas of gender, sexuality, and intimacy. A team of internationally renowned performers and a stellar creative team bring this physical yet poetic work to life through poignant and energetic theatrical vignettes that combine dance and theatre.

Beneath the Music is a story of a mother and son’s journey of acceptance. A story driven by love, it is ultimately a search for identity and understanding that will strike a chord with anyone who has ever felt they are living in two worlds.

Download the Show Program.

A very different and moving piece of theatre, Beneath the Music, easily holds its audience for its 75-minute duration. A thoughtful, engrossing, and engaging production.”

Stage Whispers

Beneath the Music is an elegant and moving story of familial redemption”

Limelight Magazine


Concept and Direction
Jay Emmanuel

Karthika Nair

Kalieaswari Srinivasan
Manjula Radha Krishnan
Ramith Ramesh
Tyrone Earl Lraé Robinson

James O’Hara

Set and Lighting Design
Willy Cessa

Sound Design and Composition
Tao Issaro

Lighting Realiser
Peter Young

Costume Design
Nicole Marrington

Costume Consultant
Kalieaswari Srinivasan

Video Artist
Elham Eshraghian-Haakansson

Video Artist Collaborator
Asha Kiani

Terrakoothu Master
Kalaimamani P. K. Sambandan Thambiran


Production Manager
Ben Nelson

Stage Manager
Liam Murray

Intimacy Coach
Gabrielle Metcalf

Produced by
Performing Lines WA

Presented by

Information for Presenters

Jeremy Smith Senior Producer

Presentation History

Subiaco Arts Centre
Perth, WA

Project Partners & Acknowledgements

Produced by Performing Lines WA, Beneath the Music was originally commissioned by Footscray Community Arts with the support of The Malcolm Robertson Foundation.

The creative development has been supported by the WA Government through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, Creative Partnership Australia, Fremantle Arts Centre and the City of Fremantle.

The world premiere of Beneath the Music is presented by Encounter and supported by the Australian Government through Creative Australia, its principal arts investment and advisory body; and the WA Government through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries through its Western Australian Theatre Development Initiative program.

The play includes excerpts from the writer’s book Until the Lions: Echoes from the Mahabharata (Archipelago Books USA).

Images by Dan Grant

In everything we do, we acknowledge that we live on Aboriginal land and constantly learn from the wisdom of First Peoples.

Where we are and the history that precedes us informs how we work and how we move forward.