Mumbai-based Faraz Khan’s adaptation of Dario Fo’s The Open Couple is a “madcap masquerade, a roller-coaster circus ring — or rather, just a ‘normal relationship’ between a man and a woman”. The central protagonist Antonia is a “suicidal, emotional wreck” after being married to a man who would prefer to be in an open relationship rather than a conventional one. Khan tackles the bold theme just as audaciously, using colours, costumes and set designs that are hyper-realistic, in your face and off the normal track. “I was looking at tramps, hobos, and circus people to draw from in our presentation,” he says. His fearlessness has paid off. Khan, 33, a first-time director, is pitted against veterans such as Atul Kumar (Piya Behrupiya, a rollicking adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night) and Lillete Dubey (9 Parts of Desire, which revolves around nine Iraqi women whose lives change radically due to the Gulf wars) for the Best Director Award at the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META), which opens today.
Presented by industrial house The Mahindra Group, the award is among the most coveted in India. Eight plays contend for awards in areas such as acting, costume design, ensemble and original music.
The opening play is Gabarghichor, based on a folk story from Bihar, in which a 15-year-old boy becomes the point of vicious contention between two men, both claiming to be his father. The boy’s mother adds her own spiteful dimension to the conflict. “This play is in support of women and I have expressed my own feelings using drama as a tool,” says Praveen Kumar Gunjan, the Begusarai-based director in a concept note.
It is not only in style that the plays differ; languages include Bhojpuri (Gabarghichor) and Malayalam (Macbeth) besides English and Hindi. Thiruvananthapuram-based director MG Jyothish’s Macbeth puts aside sociocultural interpretations of William Shakespeare’s text and unravels, instead, the psychology of the man “who shall be king hereafter”.
Among the plays that have gained critical acclaim recently is the Indo-German collaboration titled C Sharp C Blunt in which the solo actor MD Pallavi plays the role of a mobile app called Shilpa. Interestingly, audiences are requested to keep their cellphones switched on during the performance — just one of the ways this play is different. It is up for Meta awards for acting, costume design, direction, script and sound design.
The plays will be staged at Kamani and LTG auditoriums between March 4 and 8. Contact: 26801477