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'Theatre is the ultimate art'

Kshama Rao talks to Shyam Benegal and Ravi Dubey about the upcoming Excellence in Theatre awards in Mumbai.

india Updated: Feb 08, 2007 13:09 IST

The selection process for the second edition of Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META) is underway in the city.

Ravi Dubey consultant and creative director and Shyam Benegal, jury member, speak about theatre, the magic of live performances and television. We present excerpts...

What is META all about?
Dubey: It’s an award to recognise talent in theatre instituted by the Mahindra Group. In addition to acting and direction, we want to recognise backstage talent, like stage design and lighting too. There is a cash prize and a statuette with the prize varying from Rs 35,000 to Rs 1 lakh.

Benegal: It’s the equivalent of the National Awards.

You haven’t directed a play, or have you?
Benegal: No, I haven’t but I am an avid theatre-goer. I have always loved the medium. What has the response been this year?

Dubey: There has been greater awareness. We have connected with the groups from across the country. And the entries this year have gone beyond English and Hindi.

Theatre critics from different cities helped us arrive at a final list. The shortlisted groups will perform, in Delhi in March, before the jury comprising Shyambabu, Sharmila Tagore, Amol Palekar, Anita Ratnam and Joy Michael.

The winners will be announced on March 10 in Delhi and the event will be on the lines of the Golden Globe awards.                                                     

While awarding talent is a noble thought, do you think there is enough space for theatre to flourish?
Benegal: No, but one of our agendas is to do just that. We hope to open a theatre academy. It will be on the lines of the National School of Drama but it will technology savvy. We hope to have an exchange of talent and ideas with academies like the RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art).

Has theatre taken a beating because of cinema and television?
Benegal: Yes, absolutely. In the 19th century it was only theatre, which was the sole form of entertainment but with the advent of cinema and now television, theatre saw a decline. Funnily, it did n’t mean the death of theatre.

Theatre will never die. Across the world, actors have kept theatre alive. Whether it’s Al Pacino or our very own Naseeruddin Shah or the British actors, they will never give up theatre.

Dubey: Theatre is the ultimate art form.