Theatre preview: MISF!T’s Connectologues is a piece-by-piece formation of a jigsaw puzzle

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Connectologues

Connectologues
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A monologue begins on stage. It stops before completion. Another one begins. It, too, stops midway. And another one starts. Though the start-stop-start nature of the monologues might sound like a cassette stuck in a tape recorder, it is more like the piece-by-piece formation of a jigsaw puzzle. All the monologues are inter-related. A thread runs through all the stories, connecting them.

While a conventional monologue is usually delivered by a single actor depicting a specific story, Connectologues, a sub-genre of monologues, developed by Bengaluru’s MISF!T theatre group, is a collection of non-linear monologues, edited to form a much larger story.

Connectologues is a creation of MISF!T’s Ratan Thakore Grant with Venkatesan Vaidhyanathan and Vishal Nayer, the directors of Connectologues V3.0: The Phoenix, which will be staged at Alliance Française de Bangalore on September 23. It will be MISF!T’s third season of Connectologues, after nine years.

“M!SFIT, as a group, was created to break away from the norms of theatre,” says Vishal. “We designed Connectologues with our mentor, Ratan Thakore Grant, wherein we have applied film grammar to theatre.”

While non-linear narration is possible in cinema because of the element of editing, how does one pull it off in live theatre?

“That’s what is challenging for us as directors,” says Venkatesan, Vishal’s co-director. “We’ll have to coordinate the cues at specific times for each character and put all their narratives into one large, overarching story. It’s extremely challenging and exciting for a director. But this format makes it interesting for the viewer.”

It is a challenge for the actors, too, to start and stop their performances at specific cues. How do they quickly switch on and off? 

“What we’ve trained ourselves to do is attach specific actions to switches in our mind. These switches have to do with both emotional makeup and even location,” says Vishnudathan Devadas, one of the actors. “So, we rely heavily on attaching an action (say pivoting from left to right and then touching my forehead) to the mental switch into being in a different place and time, speaking to someone else and feeling completely different. Over time this becomes seamless, but it is quite challenging at first.”

“Staying in character for two whole hours while being frozen for around 70% of that time is very demanding,” he adds, “But it also encourages you to concentrate and use your imagination between your scenes. More traditional productions also involve speaking directly to co-actors and being able to react to them. Connectologues require you to speak and listen to imaginary people in your specific story the entire time. The mindset you need to have here is that you’re running a marathon.”

Connectologues 3.0: The Phoenix (90 minutes) will be staged on September 23 (at 7.30 pm) at Alliance Française de Bangalore. Tickets on bookmyshow.com

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