It is February and is time for Meta to announce the 10 shortlisted plays for the covetable awards for this year. And there is an interesting mix of plays which vary in content, form, and treatment and is a showcase of the contemporary Indian theatre. This time more plays are included from North East; and a wide representation of regional language that include Bengali, Marathi, Assamese, non-verbal (a mime play), Hindi, Malayalam, and Garo.
Many of the plays looks into morality, relationships, sex, revolt, social moorings, rituals etc. The form ranges from traditional folk theatre, culture, to realism to narration, to the usage of multimedia; but it seems that all the plays are attempting for direct communication with the audience.
The Festival will take place at Delhi on the first week of march where all the selected plays will compete for the best play awards as well as for individual awards as per nominations. The jury include DHRITIMAN CHATERJI, MS SATHYU, NAYANTARA SAHGAL, RANJIT KAPOOR, SEEMA BISWAS, and VIJAYA MEHTA.
The covetable award for the best play has been bagged in the former years by, SARHAD PAAR MANTO –Hindi- USHA GANGULI, Rangakarmee Kolkota (2006); COTTON 56, POLYESTER 84 (Hindi) - SUNIL SHANBAGI - Arpana Mumbai (2007); KARNNABHARAM (The Anguish Of Karna) – Malayalam - CHANDRADASAN– Lokadharmi Kochi, Kerala (2008); and HAMLET – THE CLOWN PRINCE – English & Gibberish- RAJAT KAPOOR – The Company Theatre Mumbai (2009) and this year... Let us wait for the result.
I am personally thrilled to see the productions of my friends Deepan Sivaraman, Manish Mitra, Mohit Takalkar, and Pabitra Rabha, included in the list.
Spacing Theatre wishes all the plays and artists with the best of luck.
BHARAT KATHA - (Bengali-Multilingual) - Manish Mitra – Kasba Arghya Kolkota
Native, rich and dynamic energy of folk music dance and theatre forms like Pandavani, Jhumur and chhau, Manish Mitra narrates narrate an episode from the epic, The Mahabharata. In his play Bharat Katha Apart from the core cast, a group of Chau dancers from Purulia also features in this production. The action of the play revolves around the incidents of the battle of Kurukshetra, when Abhimanyu boldly ventures to penetrate the dangerous, enigmatic chakravyuh, and is tragically killed inside it.
Nominations –Direction & Choreography (Manish Mitra)-Costume design (Sima Ghosh) –Lighting design (Sudip Sanyal) and for best Ensemble
GARBO - (Marathi) – Mohit Takalkar- Aasaktha Pune
Garbo written by Mahesh Elkunchwar in 1970 is about the class of ‘young people’ living aimlessly with frustration of shattered dreams, the diffusion of mediocrity, and the burden of inhibitions, the generation which breaks out into defiance of living out their own lives with non-conformism for a credo. As the play engages in the inner battles of these people, sexuality becomes the major concern.
Contextualized against the lives of Intuc, the frustrated intellectual, Pansy, the potential homosexual, Shrimant, the affluent but weak patron and Garbo, their mother/mistress/sex-goddess, the drama ends in the climax of her death. The play grows out of a claustrophobic real-life situation pushed to the limits of endurance, burgeoning into a surreal holy dream that proves too unreal and brittle to stands the test and inevitably leads to near melodrama, with the animosities and tensions becoming sharper till they culminate in Shrimant stabbing Garbo to death
Nominations – Actor (Nachiket Poornapatre); Actor in Supporting Role Male (Sarang Sathaye)
GUTI PHULOR GAMUSA - Assamese – Bidyawati Phukan - UTSA Assam
“Guti Phulor Gamusa” from Assam directed by Bidyawati Phukan, is a love story and is produced by the extension activities of National school of Drama.
Bidyawati Phukan, an NSD alumnus validates the use of folk traditions in her productions. Her theatre relates her personal as well as social moorings. She says “Where I come from is a hotbed of insurgency. But the truth is people live with halla. There is violence but there is dance as well.”
Nominations are for Direction; Choreography, and Stage Design (Bidyawati Phukan), Supporting actor Male (Sailen Duwari), Supporting actor in female role (Manju Rajkonwar), Costume design (Manju Rajkonwar, Nidedita Phukan, & Sumi Borgohain), Lighting Design (Anil Gohain & Khirud Gogoi), Sound Design (Anil Gohain ) and for best Ensemble.
MIREL MASINGKHA – Mime - Yumnam Sadananda Singh - The Kanglei Mime Theatre Repertory, Imphal, Manipur.
Mirel Masingkha (The Will of Soul),is a mime play based on the indefinite hunger strike of Irom Chanu Sharmila, portrays her gritty campaign against human rights violation and war against injustice “The play is a medium by which we can tell the story of a strong yet silent symbol of Manipur’s firmament of struggle’, says the director. “Through our play we want to give the message to stop all kinds of killings, both by militants and security forces, to stop abuse of power and get rid of black laws like the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958,”
Nominations Direction (Yumnam Sadanand Singh), Female actor in supporting role (Shanta Singh), Sound Design (Shri Inaocha), and for best Ensemble
ROOP AROOP – Hindi - Tripurari Sharma - Shabdaakar, Delhi
Roop Aroop is a Play written and directed by Tripurari Sharma who initially chose theatre as a means of expression to shrug off middle-class conventions and to seek an identity. It was an intimate way of revealing and connecting with the lives of women audiences and sharing their perspective with the world.
She says: “Theatre has an ancient but male-centric history in India’. She is an NSD product with Diploma in Direction
Nomination is for Best Actor, Male (Happy Ranajit)
SEX, MORALITY AND CENSORSHIP – Hindi - Sunil Shanbag - Theatre Arpana, Mumbai
Sex Morality and Censorship is exploring one of the most controversial issues of our time, morality and censorship. The play flashes back to the early‘70s when Vijay Tendulkar’s classic, Sakharam Binder, set off a storm of controversy in the theatre scene and was attacked by the state, and by sections of our society. Using an exciting mix of theatre, illusion, memory, music, dance, and film this play provokes, challenges, and creates a new theatre idiom, both in terms of content and form, entertaining and provocative; and asks the questions – who says NO! ? And why?
Structurally, “Sex, Morality & Censorship” is a play-within-the play with alternation of dramatic action from one space to another, indicating different time planes. Down stage characters like Lavani dancer, a scholar, a commentator and the director who dared to stage “Sakharam Binder” in the face of strong protests by Hindu fundamentalists and Censor Board are at play. The centre stage is used to enact scenes from four plays with special focus on “Sakharam Binder”, which was censured one time, and upstage footage from films and video are projected to demonstrate the narrow mindedness of Censor Board, which initially stopped the screening of these films.
Nominations are for Direction, Sound design (Sunil Shanbag), Script (Shanta Gokhale& Irawati Karnik), Best actor Male(Nagesh Bhonsle), Best Actor Female (Ketaki Thatte), Supporting Actor Female(Rajashree Wad Sawant), Choreography (Maya Jadhav& Mayur Vaidya), Stage Design (Nayantara Kotian, Prashant Prakash & Vivek Jadhav), and for Costume design (Kalyani Kulkarni).
SPINAL CORD – Malayalam- Deepan Sivaraman - Oxygen Theatre Company, Trissur, Kerala.
This production is part of the research project on ‘Spatial Identities and Visual Language in Indian Theatre.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel Chronicle of a Death Foretold has inspired this play which narrates the story of a murder revisited 27 years after its occurrence. On the wedding might of Angela and San Roman, roman discovers that his wife is not a virgin. Then her brothers started a revenge to kill the violator. The play looks at the tragedy of the killing and the manner in which it had unfolded 27 years ago as developed on the narration of Santiago’s 80-year old mother who keeps oscillating between the past and the present.
The performance uses direct narration and interaction with the audience, projection of images to accentuate the feel and gravity of incidents, and has a special space design, but is marked by the excellent portrayal of the 80 year old mother by Gopalan Atattu. In the inner level the play showcases the idiosyncrasies of the church, rituals, religion and morality.
WHITE LILY & NIGHT RIDER – Marathi – Rasika Joshi & Milind Phatak - Aangika
“White Lily & Night Rider” is the contemporary play - a black comedy - of a man & a woman in their 40’s. They are very close Chat Friends involved even in erotic chat. At one point of time they desperately want to meet each other to transform that virtual reality in to reality and may take the decision of marriage. But when they meet person to person the showdown begins and transpires is both hilarious and poignant. Has the Internet made us afraid of real life issues? Any known system of man – woman relationship is unacceptable to them.
The play raises innumerable questions and confusions about the fundamentals of the relationship & companionship. Does this confusion end with self realization? Are they afraid of reality? Is the virtual reality more comfortable??
Milind Phatak and Rasika Joshi, who have also written, directed the play and coordinated the sets and lights have explored such facets.
Nominations are for Script (Rasika Joshi & Milind Phatak, and for Actor in Female Role (Rasika Joshi)
BLACKBIRD – Hindi - Akarsh Khurana - Akvarious Productions, Mumbai
Una, a confident young woman, confronts Ray, an aging middling executive, and forces him to revisit the past. Twenty years ago, they had an affair. Till one night, Ray disappeared. Now she's back to seek some answers, and to possibly remind the man, who is now leading a respectable life, about his past. And just when you have dismissed the play saying that you know too well what will happen next, the script hits you with a rock that shatters all your preconceptions about the subject. Nobody thinks that it is possible for a thirteen year old to be in love and more so, for a forty year old man to be in love with her. Turns out, it is possible.
With veterans Akarsh Khurana and Shernaz Patel playing the leads. The play is set in an office space. And the idea of getting people to walk around outside the office gave a complete feel of the location.
Performed by an expert cast of Akash Khurana and Shernaz Patel, this 80-minute play by David Harrower deals with that infinite world of grey. It powerfully shows that there are no easy blacks and whites.
A modern morality play with foreground of an appalling case of child sexual abuse, but a complex love story looms in the background.
Nominations are for Direction (Akarsh Khurana), Best male Actor (Akash Khurana), Best actor Female (Shernaz Patel) and for light design (Hidaayat Sami).
A -CHIK A- SONG - Garo Language – Pabitra Rabha - Dapon Garo Hills, Meghalaya
A-chik A song, means –land of the Garoes -the first ever play in Garo language depicts the culture, traditions, folk tales, traditional costumes, music, and customs of the Garos and dealt with the Garo community’s socio-political history - the history of Garo Hills during 1870-1872 with special reference to the glorious first and the last arms struggle of the Garoes against the British. Though the British Army with their superior of arms could easily overpowered the ill equipped Garo freedom fighters –Toggan Ningminza Sangma the young hero is remembered by the Garoes with great honour as the 1st National hero and as the martyr of the Garoes.
Nominations are for Choreography, & Stage design (Pabitra Rabha), Best ensemble, and Costume design (Tarun Faikia)