Anshuman Acharya’s play In the Name of the Bully, which won The Hindu-MetroPlus Playwright Award 2014, is his first in English.

The Bangalore-based writer and theatre artiste is part of the Indian Ensemble theatre group and assists as a director in two of its upcoming productions. He teaches theatre to children at Headstart Educational Academy.

He describes his award-winning play about an Anglo-Indian restaurateur and his two sons as “King Lear meets Pinter … a psychological play about bullying.” He arrived at theatre and writing after a decade of experience in IT, consulting, investment banking, mass-retail and training.

Conflicts

“Theatre has allowed me to reflect upon and address the conflicts of my sandwiched times in a manner I could never when enmeshed deep in the corporate system,” he says.

Three Candles for the Dead by Sharon Puthur and Glass Baby by Savithri Chandrashekar were short-listed along with Mr. Acharya’s play from over 30 valid entries received for the award, which carries a cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh, this year.

The judges were Arshia Sattar, independent scholar, translator and teacher; Keval Arora, theatre critic who teaches English and drama at Kirori Mal College, Delhi; and Rina Ramdev, who teaches English literature at Sri Venkateswara College, Delhi, and has been reading and teaching drama for over two decades.

Sensitivity

In their citation, they praised In the Name of the Bully “for its sensitivity to the dynamics within families, particularly those between fathers and sons, as well as its courage in burrowing relentlessly towards its ugly core.”

Memorable characters

They added: “Anshuman Acharya’s unflinching gaze and razor-sharp speech create memorable characters steeped in failure and loathing who reach out to each other in awkward and flailing gestures of incompleteness. As memories and perception collide in a deftly interwoven narrative with rapid jumps in time and place, the emotional cruelty which is the dominant tenor of the play never quite drowns out the small voice of compassion that, ultimately, lifts this play into the realm of the humane.”