New Delhi, Feb 18 The 15th edition of the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META) Festival, a week-long national theatre festival culminating in an awards ceremony, announced its list of nominations for 2020.
Spanning diverse themes from regions across the country, these 10 plays will be staged in the national capital from March 13 to 18 at Kamani Auditorium and Shri Ram Centre for jury members and audience. The winners will be announced at a Red-Carpet Awards Ceremony on March 19 at Kamani Auditorium.
Promoted by the Mahindra Group as part of its cultural outreach programme and curated by Teamwork Arts, META rewards and recognises the best theatrical productions and performances of the year, along with their makers and facilitators.
"We are delighted that META is today the only national level recognition and awards programme for theatre in our country. This year's selection of plays reminds us of the richness and diversity of our theatrical heritage. With over 385 submissions from all regions of India and the final selection of 10 plays representing many languages and cultures, we are confident that this year's festival will yet again bolster the spirit of theatre practitioners and audiences alike," says Jay Shah, Vice President & Head of the Mahindra Group's cultural outreach.
The 385 entries received went through a selection procedure to arrive at the final list of nominations. This year's Selection Committee featured journalist, film and theatre critic Ajit Rai, journalist and Founder of Aalaap Akhila Krishnamurthy, journalist and theatre critic Deepa Punjani, well-known actor and theatre personality Deepika Deshpande-Amin, Artistic Director of OzAsia Festival in Adelaide Joseph Mitchell and Indian theatre personality Sohag Sen.
Along with Hindi and English language plays, this year's nominations also feature plays in Hindustani, Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam, Assamese (blended with gibberish) and a non-verbal play, representing a wide linguistic range during the week-long festival.
'Chaheta' (The Beloved), a Hindustani play from Pune, explores the psychological scars of a survivor of a traumatic event. Chaheta's dysfunctional family, misplaced in time, walks a fascinating line between inclusivity and alienation and in turn attempts to question the sanity and sanctity of people who claim to talk with God. Produced by Aaskata Kalamanch and directed by Mohit Takalkar, the play is nominated in 7 major categories. This is the 7th time Aaskata Kalamanch has been nominated and they have a slew of META awards to their name including the brilliant play Mein Huun Yusuf Aur Ye Hai Hamara Bhai which won 5 awards at META 2016.
META's nomination list features two plays in Marathi including 'Ekadashavtar', directed by Ranjit Patil from Ruia Natyavalay (Ramnarain Ruia Autonomous College), and Mickey, directed by Suraj Parasnis and Virajas Kulkarni from Theatron Entertainment Pune. While Ekadashavtar is a political satire based on mythology, 'Mickey' is a modern Shakespearean tragedy and a character study of what happens to the best and worst among us when pressures are high and morals low. Both production houses have bagged their first-ever META nominations, a whopping 11 for 'Ekadashavatar' and a formidable 9 nominations for 'Mickey'.
From Kerala, 'Bhaskara Pattelarum Thommiyude Jeevithavum', a Malayalam play based on the novella, 'Bhaskara Pattelarum Entey Jeevithavum', written by famous Malayalam writer Paul Zacharia, has been chosen. The play deals with tyranny, social struggles, love and freedom. Directed by film and drama director Suveeran and produced by first-time META nominee Backstage, the play has been nominated in 3 categories including Best Production and Best Actor in a Lead Role (Male).
The English plays in the list of the top 10 include 'Every Brilliant Thing', directed by Quasar Thakore Padamsee, and 'For the Record', directed by Nikhil Mehta. Staged in an in-the-round setting, Every Brilliant Thing, is an uplifting play about love, life, family, mental health and a list of all the wonderful things in the world. Black Box Okhla features for the first time at META with 5 nominations for their production 'For the Record', which recreates the deliberations, disputes and the drama of a 1971 incident when a tribunal was tasked with selecting three artifacts to represent India to the world. The play questions ideas of representation and Indianness.
Written, composed and directed by actor-playwright-poet Piyush Mishra, 'Gagan Damama Bajyo' (A musical on the life & times of Sardar Bhagat Singh) is a musical that showcases the inspiring life story of one of India's most celebrated freedom fighters and revolutionaries, Shaheed Bhagat Singh. It explores all the varied and humane elements of Bhagat Singh's life, and breaks the often resorted-to fundamentalist image of him. The play has been nominated in 6 award categories.
The Bengali play, 'Ghoom Nei', directed by Saurav Palodhi, is a working-class manifesto which runs through the highway of a dark and broken society reaching towards light. The play has received a total of six nominations.
The Old Man, directed by 'Sahidul Haque', is an adaptation of the Hemingway classic The Old Man and the Sea, performed in Assamese and gibberish! It brings out the eternal conflict between human society and nature and deals with loneliness, hopelessness and optimism. Produced by Orchid Theatre, the play has been nominated across seven award categories.
'Maze', directed by Sunil Kumar and produced by The Mimers, is a non-verbal play and depicts the relationship between a servant and an old man who are connected through a web of memory and reality. The play has been nominated across four award categories.
( With inputs from IANS )