Who are you, really?
Unselfed, a devised piece by young theatre director Sujay Saple that centres on the subjective ideas of multiple selves, premieres in Mumbai next week after successful runs in Bangalore, Chennai and Pondicherry. Presented by the Company Theatre in collaboration with Shapeshift Collective, the play raises pertinent questions that all of us have asked ourselves at some point in our lives. Saple says, “The piece is about what would happen if you meet another you – a living, breathing other you? Would you have a conversation with her, or run in the opposite direction? Or, what if one day you see your own body lying in a corner —without the breath of life? It essentially seeks to find answers to who we really are!”
Unselfed features contemporary dancers and theatre actors
The idea for the piece stemmed from Saple’s personal experiences and diverse thoughts. He says, “Any loss of faculty or body part dwarves our sense of self. But we need to realise that in order to become fuller human beings, we need to shed our single myopic identities.”
However, rather than being didactic, Saple uses dance, movement and physical theatre to drive home this point. To achieve this, every month he started having workshops with musicians, actors and dancers for a week. “I asked them to bring their own experiences to the piece. Since it is a devised performance piece, I decided to use contemporary dance wherein actors had to articulate their ideas through their body.”
Saple has been introducing new segments in Unselfed since its premiere in Pondicherry last January. “The piece is constantly evolving. We have also made some changes in the cast as each performer comes with his own sensibility.”
Unselfed also uses a wide range of music right from piano to jazz and Western classical pieces and varied props such as babushka (Russian dolls that represent the various selves in a person), bones, boxes and clouds. Explaining their significance, Saple says, “Music has strong reference points. Ideally, I would have wanted to use the music in swatches but that didn’t happen. We are in the process of creating original music. It will be a feature in our future shows. The props came out of the need of improvisation and also worked as interesting metaphors.”
Saple confesses that since Unselfed is not the usual entertainment fare, he had to face some challenges. “Logistically, it took us time to devise the piece. On a creative level, since I was working with contemporary dancers and actors, I had to ensure that they were willing to push the envelope. Since actors are stuck in real space, I had to push them to express themselves through metaphor. Contemporary dance is a fledgling space in India but for this piece I needed thinking dancers who could translate a thought into a movement,” he concludes.
When: March 22, 6 pm, 9 pm
Where: Prithvi Theatre, Janki Kutir, Juhu