Two plays that explore the tug and pull of gay romance in a society uneasy with homosexuality will be a part of the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META). Delhi-based Neel Chaudhuri of Tadpole Repertory wove his experiences of travelling by the Metro into a story of a young student Adil and the older, suave Partho in Still and Still Moving. The men come closer and fall apart even as the Metro expands across the city, bringing its different parts — from the migrants to the college students — into close proximity. This is Tadpole’s first time at META and Chaudhuri sounds both honoured and uncomfortable.
“I am looking forward to it because a festival brings a completely different audience but, like many people, the idea of a competition makes me uncomfortable. How can you compare plays when they come from different contexts?” he says.
One of the plays he will be pitted against is Delhi director Happy Ranajit’s A Straight Proposal, a story of a male teacher in search of love. As the protagonist travels the arc, from anticipation to heartbreak, Ranajit adds layers in the form of the history of the LGBT movement from across the world. Incidentally, Ranajit had won the Best Actor at META in 2010.
The shortlist of 10 plays includes three from the Northeast, among them an Assamese adaptation of Earnest Hemingway’s The Old Man and The Sea titled Dhou… The Wave. Mumbai will be represented by writer-activist Sushma Deshpande, who has adapted the autobiography of Marathi writer Urmila Pawar, Aaydan, into a play of the same name and turned the spotlight on Dalit and gender issues in the country. The other name from Maximum City is Sanjukta Wagh, whose dance theatre Rage and Beyond brings alive the struggle of an artiste trying to recreate a mythological heroine .
The festival will be between March 21 and 26, with the awards being announced on March 27 in Delhi.