After having to shift the stage to a virtual platform for two years because of the pandemic, the 2022 Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META) did a physical showcase of four award-winning plays from META 2020, such as Nikhil Mehta’s For the Record, which won the highest number of awards. This year, celebrating 18 years of the awards, META is coming home to the stage.
As part of Mahindra Group’s cultural outreach programme and produced by Teamwork Arts, an arts and entertainment company, META annually recognises the best theatrical productions and performances. The award recognises all aspects of the stage, including playwriting, set, costume, lighting, and direction. In a press release, the organisers talked about their aim to highlight varied themes from social issues, mythology, religion, gender, caste, and politics through the plays.
This is one of the oldest arts and cultural initiatives by Anand Mahindra and is one of many. Last year, the sixth edition of the Mahindra Kabira Festival, held in the ghats of Varanasi, included special performances by Fouzia Dastango and Dadi Pudamjee of the Ishara Puppet Theatre Trust.
Speaking to Lounge’s Avantika Bhuyan last year, Mahindra said he started META as he considers theatre to be the source of all art forms and the earliest form of community entertainment. “Theatre has become overshadowed by cinema and is seen more of a stepping-stone for actors, directors and technicians to the numerous ‘film-woods’ that exist in our country. But I have always said that in reality, theatre is the ‘source-code’ of film.”
He further expressed his hope of “inspiring creative thought” within his organisation and in the communities they are part of through arts and culture. “The government has an immense responsibility of providing basic needs to millions of people from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds. Hence, it is the duty of corporations, as constructive members of society and with the resources, to do our bit for arts, artists and our cultural values.”
META 2023 is open for entries and will select the ten best productions to be staged in New Delhi from 23 to 29 March 2023. The winners will be judged by a jury and announced at an award show. The festival will close submissions on 7 February.