New Delhi: The Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META) and Festival 2019 announced that the META 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award will be conferred on one of India’s most progressive playwrights, Mahesh Elkunchwar. He is critically-acclaimed and widely-known for having experimented with a wide range of drama and is a powerful force in both Indian and Marathi theatre for over three decades.
The jury for the 14th edition of the Awards was also announced and comprises renowned theatre artist, actor and screenwriter Akash Khurana, founder and former Executive Director of India Foundation for the Arts Anmol Vellani, popular Indian actress, singer and TV personality Ila Arun, eminent Indian actor, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Managing trustee of Nrityagram and one of India’s first professional female lighting designers Lynne Fernandez, former editor of The Hindu and curator of the annual thought conclave ‘The Huddle’ Mukund Padmanabhan, internationally-renowned dance historian, scholar, author and critic Sunil Kothari, and former Director of Yatrik, the oldest theatre group in the capital, and presently Director of the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi, Sunit Tandon.
The announcements come ahead of the week-long Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META) and Festival to be held from March 6th to 12th, 2019 at New Delhi’s Kamani Auditorium and Shri Ram Centre, where META 2019’s ten-shortlisted plays will be performed for an esteemed panel of jury members, as well as theatre-lovers in the capital.
Breaking previous records, over 400 entries were received this year at META, which were viewed by an eminent Selection Committee, comprising well-known theatre practitioners. This year’s final nominations feature plays in Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, along with Hindi and English language scripts. The shortlisted plays, this year, will explore several themes.
The media launch of the META Festival at The Taj Mahal Hotel in New Delhi hosted a panel discussion – ‘Is theatre the much-needed valve on the proverbial socio-political pressure cooker of our times?’ The panel, moderated by Sanjoy K. Roy, included V.K. Sharma, Sanyukta Saha, Deepan Sivaraman, and Shilpi Marwah, and looked at theatre’s role as a key outlet for the countless stress-points created within social and political ecosystems.
Promoted by the Mahindra Group as part of its cultural outreach and curated by Teamwork Arts, a pioneering entertainment company, META annually rewards and recognizes the country’s best productions and performances, along with their makers and facilitators, providing encouragement to India’s vast theatre industry across regions and languages, with an aim to increase not just awareness, but also appreciation of fine theatre.
Jay Shah, Head, Cultural Outreach, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, said, “The Mahindra Group is delighted to announce the 14th Annual Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards. The enthusiasm this annual event generates for theatre practitioners and audiences is in itself a validation of what we had set out to achieve. That this Award is lovingly accepted as the most definitive recognition of excellence in theatre in our country brings us even more joy and satisfaction. Here’s looking forward to a week of unparalleled theatrical expression from the best our country has to offer.”
Sanjoy K Roy, MD, Teamwork Arts & Festival Producer, said, “Every year META reinforces Indian theatre’s diversity and excellence. META 2019 is a tribute to the finest talent we have across the country. Like last year, META’s workshops and masterclasses will bring the dynamic community of theatre-practitioners closer and inspire more stories of the stage.”
META 2019 will present awards in 14 categories including the Lifetime Achievement Award as well as 13 competitive categories of 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.