Talking bodies: Unique performance creates an exploration of resistance, protest

Sep 26, 2017, 14:11 IST | Shraddha Uchil

Two artistes and a drummer will stage a powerful performance about the importance of resistance in a world filled with growing intolerance

How do you create art in a time when freedom of expression is under threat and a climate of intolerance clouds everything? Do you stick your head in the ground and pretend like nothing is wrong, or do you resist through art?

These are the questions you will find answers to at the city premiere of Agent Provocateur, the latest piece by Shapeshift. The 60-minute performance combines dance, imagery, movement and text to create an exploration of resistance and protest.

Unsettling, uncomfortable
"This is a piece born as a response to the current climate in the country. Democracy and an individual's freedom are under threat, and there is this sense that we're being watched all the time. It's like living in the dystopian world of George Orwell's 1984," says director and choreographer Sujay Saple.

The show plays out in the form of a series of non-linear episodes featuring two performers, Arpit Singh and Surbhi Dhyani. Providing live music on stage will be drummer Harsh Karangale, who goes by the name Bitmap.

The performance combines dance and imagery and features actors Arpit Singh and Surbhi Dhyani
The performance combines dance and imagery and features actors Arpit Singh and Surbhi Dhyani

Saple was clear about two things when he started working on this project — one, that it had to be a duet with a male and female performer, and secondly, that it had to have music in the form of drumming.

"This piece is meant to shake you and make you uncomfortable. Harsh works with noise scapes, which add to the atmosphere of chaos and anarchy that the piece is trying to evoke," he shares.

Agent Provocateur is the fourth production by Shapeshift, with two of its previous dance-theatre works, Unselfed (2012) and Moonfool (2014), both having been performed at Prithvi Theatre, which is also the venue for the upcoming show. Before coming to Mumbai, the new show was staged at two alternative venues in Pune, and it will soon travel to Bengaluru as part of its opening tour.

Sujay Saple
Sujay Saple

Politically incorrect
This piece is the first of Saple's works to have a political bent, and he explains why he chose to go in that direction. "I always thought I didn't know enough about the political scenario to explore it through a piece such as this. But there's so much happening around us now that hiding from it is not a luxury we can afford any longer," he shares.

"Earlier, it was different. We'd rehearse, and during our chai break, we'd talk about what's going on — a lynching here, a murder there — and then retreat into our bubble again. With Agent Provocateur, we're starting small, but at least it's a move in the right direction."

ON: Tonight, 9 pm; September 27, 6 pm and 9 pm
AT: Prithvi Theatre, 20, Janki Kutir, Juhu.
COST: Rs 175 to Rs 250

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