14th Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards opens the curtains of brilliance

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New Delhi: One of the most prestigious theatre festivals of India, Mahindra Excellence in theatre awards kick-started in Delhi . The 6 day long festival which spreads out to 2 stages of Sri Ram Centre and Kamani Auditorium, opened with a panel discussion on the topic “The Black, The White and The Grey: What is the dividing line between inspiration and appropriation in the arts. Panelists included this year’s META Jury Anmol Vellani, Mukund Padmanabhan, Akash Khurana, Ila Arun, Lynne Fernandez and the session was moderated by Sanjoy K Roy.

The panel discussion was followed by the opening play “LOOSE WOMAN” directed and performed by Maya Krishna Rao at Sri Ram Centre, Mandi House. Through dance, theatre, music and video, Loose Woman depicts the ways in which a woman traverses and experiences different ‘spaces’.

Talking about the META Festival, Sanjoy K. Roy, MD, Teamwork Arts, & Festival Producer, said, “14 years is long time for any festival and i think this particular one supports theatre, not just by showcasing it in Delhi every year , but many of the productions that win nominations and award In the festival go on and travel different parts of the world from US to Europe. We are delighted that this platform has given more theatre companies to come out and show their work not because there are resources out their but because of the kind of passion and excitement that drives everybody from the theatre fraternity”.

Talking about the dividing line between inspiration and appropriation in the arts Ila Arun said, “I am totally against all these things, of taking someone else work and then showcasing it in your own way. This gesture not only destroys someone’s work but also raise questions on his/ her work. This gesture, deteriorate the image of the artist and his work. If you want to do this, you should take a proper permission or copy right.

Keeping his views on the issue Akash Khurana said, “The word OWN is very useful in this context, for instance if it’s your original work you OWN it, and should get a copyright for it.

On the other hand the work that is not yours, you should get the license.

There is no shame in this but Every work of art in some measure inspired by someone . You just have to own it or own up.

META is the only National theatre awards, which recognizes excellence across languages in the country, with awards across 14 categories including set, costume and light design, direction, production and performance. . The Festival that began on Wednesday and will go on till 12th March will showcase the nine nominated plays. The winners will be felicitated at a glittering Red-Carpet Awards Ceremony on March 12th, 2019, which will see leading luminaries from the world of Indian theatre grace the occasion.

Mukund Padmanabhan talking on the issue of The Black, The White and The Grey matter in theatre said, “I don’t think it’s a problem at all, i think it’s totally fine , Shakespeare is the best example for this ,every director has a different way of doing something conventional but the emphasis just shifts a little bit in the perspective . I think we all borrow in every disciple not just an artist, yes i think we borrow and we borrow legitimately”.

Anmol Vellani said, “There are very clear conventions about acknowledging and referencing when you want to use some body’s work, you can’t adopt these conventions in your performance. You can’t quake a scene! So it’s much more difficult to figure out what is the originality in the performance”.

Lynne Fernandez said, “As far as dance is concerned, if a dancer takes a choreographed piece and interprets in her own, he/she is allowed to do that. However the bottom line is, that if you takes some one’s work you have to give credit to the other person, you cannot call it you’re own”.

The coming days at the META Festival brings for theatre goers a Pan-Indian selection of riveting original scripts. A riveting tale of caste, gender, class, conflict and politics, told against the backdrop of the Behmai massacre at the hands of the infamous Bandit Queen Phoolan Devi and her gang in the form of Agarbatti (Hindi and Bundeli).

Two different adaptations of Andha Yug (in Gujarati from Vadodara and in Hindi from Imphal), a verse play set against the backdrop of the Mahabharata war; have been selected for the finals. Chandala, Impure (Tamil) is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet but set within the constructs of the ruthless Indian caste system.

A play that portraits the protest of the people against their town corporation authority which wants to replace every small shop with glitzy malls and ban the use of coins, Chillara Samaram (Malayalam).

A strongly written family drama set in rural Vidharbha which talks about relationships, aspirations, joys, sorrows and anger, Kola (Kannada)

Pulijanmam (Malayalam) a reinterpretation of a classic text which questions the morals of a society which has long marginalised dalits. And Bhagi Hui Ladkiyan (Hindustani) is a narrative-led performance which depicts the actors’ dilemmas through interesting visual aspects, and even asks the audience to participate.