Mumbai: 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, 2020 at Kamani Auditorium and Shri Ram Centre for an esteemed panel of jury members and an equally enthusiastic and discerning audience. The winners will be announced at a Red-Carpet Awards Ceremony on March 19, 2020 at Kamani Auditorium.
Promoted by the Mahindra Group as part of its cultural outreach programme and curated by Teamwork Arts, a pioneering arts and entertainment company, META rewards and recognises the best theatrical productions and performances of the year, along with their makers and facilitators, providing a major boost to the country’s theatre industry, with the aim of increasing not just awareness but also appreciation of theatre across India.
“The Mahindra Group’s commitment to the Arts is evident from its comprehensive and sustained presence through several projects of Cultural Outreach. META – our very first project achieving the 15-year milestone is an occasion for much pride and celebration. 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.
META, now in its milestone 15th year, continues to be the most comprehensive awards event for theatre in India, offering recognition across 14 award categories including Best Production, Best Director, Best Stage Design, Best Light Design, Best Innovative Sound Design, Best Costume Design, Best Actor in a lead role (Male), Best Actor in a lead role (Female), Best Actor in a Supporting Role-Male and Female, Best Ensemble, Best Choreography, and Best Original Script. META also honours theatre veterans, conferring them with its well-known and respected Lifetime Achievement award.
META 2020 received over 385 entries which went through an arduous 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 iconic master trainer and Indian theatre personality Sohag Sen.
Along with Hindi and English language play, 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’sdysfunctional 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 timeAaskata 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 Entry Jeevithavum, written by famous Malayalam writer Paul Zacharia, has been chosen. The play deals with tyranny, social struggles, love and freedom. Directed by noted 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, produced by Vivek Rao and Toral Shah from QTP, is an uplifting play about love, life, family, mental health and a list of all the wonderful things in the world. This is QTP’s 2nd innings as a META nominee and they have been nominated for Best Play and Best Actor in Lead Role (Male). 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 artefacts to represent India to the world. The play questions ideas of representation and Indianness. It also features Hindi dialogues along with English.
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 the light. Produced by Thakurpukur Ichheymoto, the play has received a total of 6 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 7 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 4 award categories.
The full schedule and jury for META 2020 will be announced soon.