“What if you learn one day that there is another you, somewhere else, who is living your dreams, who is living the life you wanted to live — basically a scenario where what you wanted, has already happened? Will that invalidate your existence, shatter you or will it leave you free, free from all attachments?” these are the questions that Unselfed, a performance piece developed through a collaboration between contemporary dancers and theatre performers, says director Sujay Saple, who has helmed the act.
Unselfed, which is set to have its debut staging in the city, is a theatre production by ShapeShift and has had acclaimed runs in Puducherry, Chennai, Bengaluru and also at the prestigious Bharat Rang Mahotsav (National School of Drama’s international festival) in Delhi.
Beyond the obvious
Abandoning conventional linear narratives, the work invites the viewer to journey into an evocative landscape of non-stories told through visual and physical segments. Saple explains that he conceived this idea from the urge to do something away from the normal text-based theatre.
“The performance brings forth abstract physical movements and visuals. This is because I didn’t want a straight narrative by clocking actors to play characters bound by a single plot. I wanted to see other ways of performing. Even when people come to watch a play, their expectations are already set and they somehow know what will be thrown at them. I wanted to change the way a performer articulates his ideas on stage, which in turn alters the way a viewer engages himself with the stage,” he shares.
The 80-minute performance (no interval) will see a confluence of five performers — two contemporary dancers, two theatre actors and one Bharatanatyam dancer-cum-actor.
Although the director feels that every play is tough to put together, he admits that this production threw open different challenges. “This was a piece with various segments that were not linked by a plot. There is a sense of rhythm, there is an idea, but it’s not a linear narrative.
So trying to make that appealing required some thought,” informs Saple. He explains further that in Unselfed, different segments might be appealing to different people. “A segment might appeal to you, but might not make an impact on the person sitting next to you,” he concludes.