CCA to Broadcast Play that Unearths World of Mumbai Trash Pickers

“Behind the Beautiful Forevers,” a gripping play about people living in a slum in Mumbai, will be broadcast live from London to the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 28.

David Hare’s play is based on the unflinching book of the same name that Katherine Boo wrote after she recorded the lives, dreams and devastations of residents in the makeshift settlement for three years. “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” won the National Book Award for nonfiction.

In the shadow of ritzy hotels surrounding the gleaming Mumbai airport, people who live in a slum next to a sewage lake are part of Mumbai’s informal rubbish collecting industry.

Zehrunisa and her son, Abdul aim to recycle enough rubbish to fund a proper house. Sunil, 12 and stunted, wants to eat until he’s as tall as Kalu, a scrap metal thief. Asha seeks to steal government anti-poverty funds to turn herself into a “first-class person” and her daughter, Manju wants to be the slum’s first female graduate. But their plans are fragile. Injustice and corruption reign. A global recession threatens the garbage trade and one slum-dweller makes an accusation that will destroy herself and shatter the neighborhood.

Since 2009, NT Live has transmitted the best of British theatre live from London to cinemas and venues around the world. The broadcasts are filmed in front of a live audience, with cameras positioned throughout the theatre to ensure cinema audiences get the best-seat-in-the-house view. Productions are transmitted via satellite to the CCA, then projected onto a 40-foot high-definition screen — one of the largest in the state.

For tickets, which are $18 for adults and $8 for students, visit or call 581.1755, 800.622.TIXX.