Festival of thespians

The 11th edition of META awards is diverse and promises the best of Indian theatre Festival

V ARIETY combined with finesse is quite a tempting mix. And the 11th edition of ‘ Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards’ ( META)

V that. It brings together the best productions from across the country in a festival that highlights the intrinsic diversity and rich cultural traditions of India.

From over 300 entries, theatre stalwarts have handpicked 10 productions that have been nominated in 13 categories. The plays deal with a myriad of topics ranging from displacement, revolution, faith, spirituality, mental health, rape, bisexuality, prostitution and love amidst conflict.

Mein Huun Yusuf Aur Ye Hai Mera Bhai is based on a Palestinian script that director Mohit Takalkar stumbled upon while in London, years ago. The love story of Ali and Nada, along with Ali’s ‘ eccentric’ brother Yusuf during the time of the Palestine- Israel divide in 1948, stirred Takalkar.

“ Though I am from Mumbai, I decided to adapt it into Hindi because I think that seemed closer to the script than Marathi,” says Takalkar. “ The expulsion of 1948 or the ‘ nakba’ was a devastating and traumatic event for millions of people from Palestine. It is a scab that is continually worried and picked at and never heals. This extreme humiliation these people go through every day of their miserable lives is in itself a traumatic loss. The play is designed in such a

space on the stage to denote the sense of space and loneliness,” says Takalkar. Mein Huun Yusuf Aur Ye Hai Mera Bhai has been nominated in all categories except Best Stage Design and Best Choreography.

Agnes of God , by John Pielmeier, tells the story of a novice nun who gives birth and insists that the immaculate conception. The title is a pun on the Latin phrase Agnus Dei ( Lamb of God). The play has been nominated in Best Production, Best Director, Best Actor in Lead Role ( Female), Best Actor in a Supporting Role Light Design and Best Innovative Sound Design.

Deepan Sivaraman, director of Cabinet of Dr. Caligari , says the play offers possibility of looking into the layers of the human mind, which is always floating rather than certain Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a contemporary take on the 1920 film and emerged out of spatial experimentation with a focus on objects, some found and others made. It is a multi media performance in which the scenography and dramaturgy emerged together in an attempt to navigate through the run down

production has been staged,” he says. Along with Best Production and Best Director, the English play has also been nominated for Best Stage Design, Best Light Design and Best Innovative Sound Design. Play Akshayambara and After Death — A Spiritual Journey received eight nominations each, Haoai (The Eleventh Planet) received six nominations, 07/07/07, Balcony & Kuhaimaravasigal (Cave Tree Dwellers) each received five nominations and A Friend’s Story elicited four nominations from the Selection Committee. Sanjoy K Roy, MD, Teamwork Arts & Festival Producer, says, “META showcases the diversity of Indian theatre and creates a platform to highlight the incredible passion that theatre persons bring to the stage against all odds.” —The nominated productions will be staged at the FICCI and LTG auditoriums in Delhi from March 5 till March 10. For more info, www.metawards.com