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Countdown to the crown
Jury member Sharmila Tagore at the META press conference in Delhi. (PTI)

The second edition of Mahindra Excellence In Theatre Awards (META) — in the footsteps of the Tony Awards in the US — is taking off later this month.

The awards function aiming to pick the best works in Indian theatre has expanded the scope of competition this year. Last year saw only Hindi and English plays in the fray, but the second edition includes regional language theatre from all parts of India.

“We are inviting theatre from across the country, including tribal theatre. Theatre groups will have to send us DVDs of their productions that will be screened by a committee in Delhi. We are expecting 50 to 100 DVDs,” says stage actor Ravi Dubey, who is also the creative director of META.

The competition is split into two sections of emerging and established theatre. The emerging theatre category is fit for groups that have no more than two productions. The productions “may be adapted or original, verbal or non-verbal, and may include physical theatre, puppetry, multi-media and dance”.

Any production launched and staged between September 1, 2005 and December 31, 2006 is eligible to apply. Entries in both sections will be selected from five zones — Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta, Bangalore and Chennai. The selection panel will meet in Delhi between January 24 and 31 to pick two plays from each section.

The categories include best play, director, stage design, lighting director, innovative sound design, costume design, actor (male and female) in a leading role, supporting actor (male and female) and best original script. The winners in each category will be announced by the end of January.

Between March 5 and 9, the finalists will stage their plays in front of the grand jury comprising Sharmila Tagore, Neena Gupta, Anita Ratnam, Joy Michael, Amol Palekar and probably Shyam Benegal. Last year’s jury members were Shabana Azmi, Ila Arun, Shyamanand Jalan, M.S. Sathyu, Zafar Hai and M.K. Raina.

The glittering awards night will be held at The Taj, Delhi, on March 10.

META has already received applications from Gowri Ramanarayan’s Dark Horse from Chennai, Girish Karnad’s Bikhre Bimb from Bangalore and Tin Can’s Metro from Calcutta.

The last date for submitting applications is January 30. Theatre groups can log on to www.metawards.com.

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