Here are the best of plays to compete at Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards, where to catch them

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META rewards and recognises the best theatrical productions and performances of the year, along with their makers and facilitators, providing a major boost to the country’s theatre industry.

The 15th edition of the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META) Festival, a week-long national theatre festival culminating in an awards ceremony, announced its list of nominations for 2020.

Spanning diverse themes from regions across the country, these 10 plays will be staged in the national capital from March 13 to 18, 2020, at Kamani Auditorium and Shri Ram Centre (both in Mandi House) for jury members and audience.

The winners will be announced at a Red-Carpet Awards Ceremony on March 19, 2020, at Kamani Auditorium.

Chaheta

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The play is nominated in 7 major categories.

Islam, Christianity and Judaism tell us the story of the devout Abraham who binds and nearly sacrifices his son to appease God. Pune-based playwright Mohit Takalkar’s Aasakta Kalamanch narrates what happens when the father and son come down from the mountain.

As the play delves into the scars on Abraham’s son following the traumatic event, the plays ask whether Abraham took the boy to the mountain for the purpose of human sacrifice, or was he simply trying to toughen up the sensitive lad? The play will be staged on March 13, 8 pm, at Kamani auditorium.

Ekadashavtar

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Ekadashavtar is a political satire based on mythology.

The Marathi play on the 10 avatars of Lord Vishnu is told through a musical. A village fair is the venue of a play on Vishnu. Due to unavoidable circumstances, the group fails to reach on time and when they do, the actor playing the role of Lord Vishnu does not come with them. This play within a play highlights the problems of the villagers and wraps a strong social message with a dash of humour. The play will be staged on March 14, 8 pm, at Kamani auditorium.

Bhaskara Pattelarum Thommiyude Jeevithavum

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The play has been nominated in 3 categories, including Best Production and Best Actor in a Lead Role (Male)

The play, based on the novel Bhaskara Pattelarum Entey Jeevithavum by famous Malayalam writer Paul Zacharia, revolves around Thommi, a Christian migrant labourer from Kerala, who is the obedient slave of his aggressive, tyrannical landlord, Bhaskara Pattelar. Pattelar is a man of many vices and Thommi helplessly supports him in all of his ill deeds. What happens when Pattelar is killed by his enemies? The play will be staged on March 14, 8 pm, at Shri Ram Centre.

Ghoom Nei

Produced by Thakurpukur Ichheymoto, the play has received a total of 6 nominations.

The heroes of this Bengali play are workers from the lowest segment of society, who struggle with abysmal standards of living. The play contains several parallel stories — of truck drivers and their existential crisis; of a dhaba and its owner; of an unemployed man and his struggle to enter the mainstream; of an insane person and his sense of loneliness; of a senior individual to whom these other stories have no meaning, and of two reporters and their constant search for a new story. The play will be staged on March 15, 6 pm, at Shri Ram Centre.

Maze

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The play has been nominated across 4 award categories.

An intimate play about the relationship of a servant and an old man, Maze unfolds through a web of memories and realities. The servant is the primary caregiver of the old man, sometimes even pretending to be his wife in order to coax him to eat. The sight of the servant clothed in his wife’s attire rekindles the old man’s longings even as recognition of his smell brings him back to reality. Is everything as it seems, or is the audience in for a surprise at the last moments of the play? The play will be staged on March 15, 8 pm, at Kamani auditorium.

The Old Man

Produced by Orchid Theatre, the play has been nominated across 7 award categories.

Based on Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and The Sea, this Assamese play revolves around a fisherman whose catch has been dwindling. The fisherman takes up the challenge to catch the biggest fish in the river. The play, directed by Sahidul Haque, draws upon the culture of Assam to present a story about hardship and human tenacity. The play will be staged at Shri Ram Centre on March 16, 6 pm.

Every brilliant thing

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Staged in an in-the-round setting, Every Brilliant Thing, produced by Vivek Rao and Toral Shah from QTP, is an uplifting play about love, life, family, mental health and a list of all the wonderful things in the world.

Staged in an in-the-round setting, Every Brilliant Thing is an intimate piece that invites the audience to share the joy found in everyday objects. The play revolves around love, life, family, mental health and a list of all the wonderful things in the world. Directed by Quasar Thakore Padamsee, the play will be staged at Kamani Auditorium on March 16, 8 pm.

Mickey

Both production houses have bagged their first-ever META nominations, a whopping 11 for Ekadashavatar and a formidable 9 nominations for Mickey.

Keshav runs a barber shop with his father, Sakharam, and his friend, Anthony. It is 1984 in Pune when an accident results in a trip being left with a dead body. The three barbers form a twisted plan to use it to solve their financial woes. "The modern Shakespearean tragedy that follows is a character study of what happens to the best and worst of us when the pressure is high, and morals are low," says director Suraj Parasnis. The play will be staged at Shri Ram Centre on March 17, 6 pm.

For The Record

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The play questions ideas of representation and Indianness. It also features Hindi dialogues along with English.

Delhi-based Nikhil Mehta's production enters into the questions of what is Indian culture and who defines it. The audience is taken to 1971, when a tribunal is tasked with selecting three artefacts that represent India to the world. Flash forward to 2018: transcripts of the tribunal meetings are released to the public. And in 2019, For the Record recreates the deliberations, the disputes and the drama of a chain of events. The play will be staged at Kamani Auditorium on March 17, 8.30 pm.

Gagan Damama Bajyo

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The play has been nominated in 6 award categories.

A musical about the life of one Bhagat Singh, the play was written and directed by actor-playwright-poet Piyush Mishra in 1994. Audiences are taken through key moments of the martyr's life, from his induction into revolutionary ideology as a child, his exploration of that ideology as a young man at the National College in Lahore, to his death by hanging on March 23, 1931. The play will be staged at Shri Ram Centre on March 18, 6 pm.

The Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards will take place from March 13-18, 2020.