New Delhi: The 15th edition of Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META) will be a virtual affairs this year as the dark cloud of Covid-19 pandemic continues to cast its shadow over the human life.

The virtual award ceremony would be held here on August 30.

The META 2020 Festival, organised by Mahindra Group and Teamwork Arts, which was scheduled for March this year, was postponed due to the pandemic.

The vice president, head of Manindra Group’s cultural outreach, Jay Shah, said “The show must go on. We rise to the challenges thrown up by the pandemic and I applaud the entire theatre community for coming together at this difficult time. META 2020 is going to be a first-of-its kind virtual awards ceremony for theatre in the country. My humble appeal to everyone is to support theatre and theatre artistes by logging on to events online, as this year, the rules for the new normal’ are all in a digital idiom.”

The three-week-long celebration of theatre, starting with a Theatre Critics Conference on Aug 10, will culminate with the online award ceremony honouring thespians and theatre personalities across 13 categories.

This year’s META will also see the launch of the first-ever published edition of the ‘META Best Original Script’, and a tribute to the META 2020 Lifetime Achievement Awardee Barry John.

Eminent playwright, director, film maker Mahesh Dattani, renowned playwright and novelist Makarand Sathe, accomplished actress Sushma Seth, actor-writer Vinaya Pathak and film actor Lillete Dubey were the members of the jury for the 15th META.

There are 10 nominated plays out of the total 385 entries, which give a diverse flavour of India’s eclectic theatre scene and include plays in multiple languages such as Hindi, English, Hindustani, Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam, Assamese. Nominations feature five productions from Maharashtra, two from Kerala and one each from Assam, Delhi and West Bengal.

The short-listed plays are: “Chaheta” (Hindustani), “Ekadashavtar” (Marathi), “Mickey” (Marathi), “Every Brilliant Thing” (English), “For The Record” (English and Hindi), “The Old Man” (Assamese), “Gagan Damama Bajyo” (Hindi), “Bhaskara Pattelarum Thommiyude Jeevithavum” (Malayalam), “Ghoom Nei” (Bengali) and “Maze” (non-verbal).

The awards will be presented in 14 categories including the Lifetime Achievement Award alongwith 13 competitive categories of Best Play, Best Director, Best Stage Design, Best Light Design, Best Innovative Sound Design, Best Costume Design, Best Actor in a Lead Role (Male), Best Actor in a Lead Role (Female), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Male), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Female), Best Original Script, Best Ensemble and Best Choreography.