11th META: The Swan Song

Coming together is a beginning;
Keeping together is process,
Working together is success.

Lines that make us recall those who have dedicated themselves to help the 11th Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards and Festival 2016 to be a success.

From far it looks like that the festival started on 5th with its first show at Ambedkar University and after a week of rich cultural buffet ended on the 11th with the award ceremony, but that is just a piece of film from the whole reel.

The preparation for the festival starts from the moment entries are called in for the festival. This year 322 entries made their mark within the allotted time. Then the selection committee skilfully chose ten best entries from the lot to be received in Delhi and so that the festival could take a tangible form. The team at Teamworks Arts worked day and night to arrange for travels, accommodations, venues and volunteers so that a festival of this size could take a smooth journey without any wrinkles.

This time the opening play (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) was held at the Ambedkar University due to director Deepan Sivaraman’s insistence on the spatial originality of the play. In the post- dramatic style the play tried to answer the alleged shortcomings of the proscenium theatre.

On Day 2 META was in full swing. The two venues LTG Auditorium and K.K. Birla FICCI Auditorium were prepared to invite the guests from all the sections of our society. The two plays slated for the day were After Death — The Spiritual Journey by Vikram Mohan and Kuhaimaravasigal (Cave Tree Dwellers) from Dr. S. Murugabhoopaty respectively. Whereas After Death was a visual and spiritual treat for the audience,Kuhaimaravasigal targeted the surveillance systems employed by the state and their misuses to make people think which kind of a world they are hoping for, an organic one or an robotic one.

Day 3 marked its presence in the theatrical world with two regional plays, The Balcony by Sasidharan Naduvil and Akshayambara written and directed by Sharanya Ramprakash. Whereas The Balcony dealt with the theme of images in power, the other play tried to break the binary of male/ female gender construction. All this while, when the audience was mesmerized with the production of such beautiful and well thought drama, jury members were calibrating the plausible effects each and every show to give concrete results for the awards night.

Day 4 was noted again for its two plays, Haoai — The Eleventh Planet by Goutam Halder and 07/07/07 by Faezeh Jalali. On one hand Haoai tickled people and also made them cry with the simple minded life of three vagrants who want to leave this material world for Nubira, their ideal heaven. On the other 07/07/07, an ensemble piece had a cathartic effect on the audience with its burning issues on rape.

On Day 5, the two plays Main Huun Yusuf Aur Yeh Hai Mera Bhai by Mohit Takalkar and Agnes of God by Kaizaad Kotwal tried to map the humanity which is struggling under the radar of borders, religions and other socio-political constructions. Whereas Main Huun Yusuf Aur Yeh Hai Mera Bhai took us to the conflict of love within a war zone, Agnes of God tried to open the twist and turns of female psychology, when three females from different age groups debated the conflict between faith and logic.

Day 6 gave the final touch to the montage with a single play A Friend’s Story directed by Akash Khurana which portrayed the difficulties of a person who acquires a queer sexual orientation and also questioned our naming system of relationships between the two demarcated genders.

After hours of discussion our jury panel reached the results which were celebrated at the Taj Mahal Hotel on the 11th of March. According to Goutam Halder they were all winners because they reached the milestone which is called nominations. The objective of the whole festival was to introduce and promote theatre in the lives of common people of this country, to give them an alternate source of learning and entertainment through an act of drama and that is exactly what was achieved in a week of theatrical festivity.

Behind the stage, everyday the artists along with the members of Teamworks Arts and unwavering support from the Mahindra Group worked tirelessly to set the standards that 11th META has achieved. From sets to costumes, from sound to light, everything was arranged precisely each day to fulfill the needs of the competition because a single complaint could have turned into an issue of dissatisfaction. Teamwork Arts worked with the insight that an error of theirs would be the loss of the artists and that is why no errors were committed and everyone was not only satisfied but overwhelmed with the hospitality of this organisation which celebrates art.

This year META touched the lives of over 2000 artists and a billion people as its audience. We admire the support of people which makes us enthusiastic every year to produce this beautiful festival. On this wonderful note of appreciation it is the time to say ‘Goodbye’ to you all till next year when we return with another round of theatrical feast namely the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards and Festival.

Till then, SAYONARA!

— Abhishek Tiwari

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