A classical Greek tragedy exploring the aftermath of war, retold in a theatre production; a play that is set against the backdrop of social stratification and pseudo-nationalism; the story of transgenders, retraced from history and mythology; and the tragedy of over 200,000 "comfort women" who were forced into prostitution by the Japanese military -- all of these and several other plays will be competing for awards in 14 categories at the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META).
The curtain is all set to go up on Friday evening at a grand opening reception here. Over the course of next six days, the ten shortlisted plays from over 330 entries will be showcased at Shri Ram Centre and Kamani auditorium, the two venues that theatre practitioners customarily perform at.
The plays will be viewed by an eminent jury and will also be open for theatre lovers at tickets priced at Rs 100 and Rs 200. This year's final 10 nominations feature plays in Assamese, Bengali, English, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam and Manipuri as well as a non-verbal movement theatre production.
The jury for the 13th edition of META comprises renowned theatre director and former Chairperson of the National School of Drama Amal Allana; popular film and theatre actor and theatre director Lillete Dubey; theatre director and professor of theatre at the Punjab University, Neelam Man Singh Chowdhry; film maker, actor, theatre director and writer Rajat Kapoor; theatre, film and television writer-director, Ranjit Kapoor; and Indian cultural impresario, photographer, writer, classical dancer and the director of Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, Shobha Deepak Singh.
The plays explore subjects as far and wide as gender identity through Indian mythology, the machinations of the entertainment industry and how they treat their female leads, folk literature from Bengal, the balance between the female (prakriti) and male (purusha) energies, the politics of religion and the religion of politics and its division of society, the brutality against women by the Japanese imperialist army during World War II, reinterpreted Greek tragedies, German philosophy revisited and the flamboyant playing style of veteran Colombian goalkeeper, José René Higuita Zapata.
The META 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award will be conferred on the veteran Indian film and theatre director, Vijaya Mehta, Founder Member of the theatre group, Rangayan, and a leading figure in the experimental theatre of the 1960s.
Altogether, the annual theatre extravaganza will give away 14 awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as 13 competitive categories -- Best Play, 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), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Female), Best Original Script, Best Ensemble and Best Choreographer.
The awards will be presented at the Red-Carpet Awards Night to be held on April 19.