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A chat with Guinness World Record Holder Joe Bone

Guinness World Record Holder Joe Bone is credited with playing the maximum number of characters, 136 to be precise, in the award-winning Bane trilogy, where he essays the role of a comical gunslinger. The versatile artiste talks about why he thinks he has a split personality and how he has only managed to shoot some clay pigeons and glass bottles in real life

For an acclaimed writer and performer, who has penned and acted in the multi-award winning Bane trilogy, which has been a sell out at the Edinburgh festival fringe for three years, Joe Bone has a whacky sense of humour.

Joe Bone
Joe Bone in his many moods in Bane

The play is about Bruce Bane, a hitman who finds that he has become the target when a mysterious guy called Shelby starts pursuing him. It’s a fun thrilling ride by two guys, one who plays guitar on the side of the stage (Ben Roe) and the other who performs all characters and tells the story (Bone).

Joe Bone

Bone admits that after playing the comical gunslinger Bane and a multitude of characters over the last three years, he might have developed a split personality. He laughs and says, “All the characters are a little part of me, and most of them have psychopathic tendencies, so, yes, do stay around for a drink after the show.”

Joe Bone

The British actor got the idea of developing such a piece while watching a movie at home one night. He elaborates, “I started playing characters from it. I wrote a little monologue with this Sam Spade / Marv / John McClane character and just grew it by having him interact with various other characters (where I was basically talking to myself). I did it for a performance exam at my university in 2005. I just followed my instincts. Gradually I began to add mime and sound effects. Once I had a form to play with, I began writing 10-minute, 20-minute slots. After this, I thought I’d go for an hour and get some music involved, so I called musician Ben Roe. It was never the intention to do a lot of characters, but just tell a story.”

Bone says that the play’s title is a pun on the word ‘bane’. “Think of him as the bane of your life whom you can’t get rid off. It’s also a name that is synonymous with the type of genre I’m trying to parody. Think of Bruce Wayne, Bruce Banner, Max Payne, John McClane etc… I’m looking to play with the language of cinema that we all have in our imaginations due to our vast consumption of movies or TV. I’m tapping into that imagination, so that the sound of a cigarette lighting, a car going past and some mood music playing, conjures up those visions of an American city imbedded in our brains from the movies.”

The artiste admits that impressed by the response that the first part received, he decided to take the idea forward and make sequels of the piece. “In the first Bane (Bane 1) I play about 40 characters. I improvise a bit so sometimes the number increases or decreases depending on what I end up doing. In all three shows I play about 136 characters. The initial idea wasn’t focussed on trying to perform lots of characters; it was about telling a fun little story about a hitman. I played the other characters out of the necessity to tell the story. As the story grew the characters increased.”

He reveals that though acting in the devised piece has been an exhilarating experience, it is nevertheless, replete with hurdles. “I need to adapt in each show to the mood, and make sure the audience gets the best possible experience. As I’ve gotten older, those are the kind of things that I can identify and solve quicker, whilst in the middle of a show. For the first time I feel I can understand a football pundit who says: ‘You need experience in the team when you’re up against it.’ As for being able to shoot in real life, I’ve only shot some clay pigeons and glass bottles,” he says.

When: February 16, 7 pm
Where:Tata Theatre, NCPA, NCPA Marg, Nariman Point
Call: 22824567

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