Panoramic plays

Saturday, 4 December 2010 00:08 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Three Sinhala dramas at the Lionel Wendt discuss universal issues. 

(By Shezna Shums)

The Lanka Children’s and Youth Theatre Foundation (LCYTF) is showcasing three plays at the Lionel Wendt with weekend.

The LCYTF, better known as Play House-Kotte which was established as a voluntary organisation in 1981 by Somalatha Subasinghe, the veteran playwright and theatre director, with a view to promote children’s and youth theatre and mainstream theatre in Sri Lanka are the main organizers behind this event.

Over the years LCYTF has produced a repertoire of internationally acclaimed mainly musical theatre for children and youth and award winning mainstream theatre productions. Today LCYTF is the leading producer of theatre for children and youth, and one of the major training and skill development centers for actors and other creative professionals in Sri Lanka. With its theatre productions over the years, LCYTF has also been able to set new standards for the Sri Lankan theatre.

The objective of the organization is to provide a platform in particular for young theatre directors to showcase their productions in particular to the young generation to enhance their awareness on modern theatre.  

On the other hand, the festival will also be a valuable opportunity for the public to experience theatre with meaningful entertainment both in the categories of original creations and adaptations from the international theatre.  

Festival organizers are presenting three stage plays for this year’s festival. They are “Vikurthi” (Distortion) by Somalatha Subasinghe, Gladiator Premaya (Gladiator Love) by Namal Jayasinghe and Prasanna Mahagamage and Sanda Langa Maranaya (Blood Wedding) by Kaushalya Fernando.

Sanda Langa Maranaya was adjudged the Best Play of the Year at the National Drama Festival 2005. Vikurthi has been one of the most popular stage plays in produced in early 1980s and Gladiator Premaya is the latest theatrical endeavor by the Play House –Kotte.

It was acclaimed by theatre critiques.  All plays are with deep-insights into the socio-cultural issues faced particularly by the youth. The organizers of the festival wish to inform the public that the tickets are priced at affordable rates with assistance provided by HNB Assurance PLC.

Vikurthi (Distortion) is a play by Somalatha Subasinghe, a satirical exposure of hapless generation of youth whose lives were dominated by incessant struggle between parents’ aspirations and the youth’s abilities and preferences.

In the 1980’s, at the time the drama was conceived, the wide spread social tendency was that the aspiring parents trying to achieve the missed opportunities of their own lives through their children. Consequently, the children were forced to study for competitive government examinations such as GCE (O/L) and GCE (A/L), specifically in the science stream disregarding their aptitudes and available resources at respective schools and the universities.  The play discusses in depth how this anti-social process denied youth of their own life, which in turn deeply affected them in many ways. The production is a semi-musical which is a familiar theatrical experience to the local audiences.  

The professional theatre group of the Play-House-Kotte has performed “Vikurhti’ in English in major cities in India and Australia in 2000. The play has received well by the foreign audiences.

Vikurthi cast includes Kaushalya Fernando, Namal Jayasinghe, Prasannajith Abeysuriya, Geetha Alahakoon, Mayura Kanchana, Pujitha de Mel, Sanjaya Hettiarachchi, Nimmi Priyadharshini, Wickrama Seneviratne, Sulochana Weerasinghe, Dilum Buddhika Perera and a number of new comers to the national theatre groomed at Play House-Kotte.

The play is written and directed by Somalatha Subasinghe. M.R. Chulasinghe composed music for the play. Choreography is by Somalatha Subasinghe and Chandana Aluthge. Stage lighting is by Chandana Aluthge and make-up is by Priyantha Disanayake.

Gladiator Premaya (Gladiator Love) treading the boards today is created by the youth theatre artistes who have successfully completed the Diploma Programme in Drama and Theatre conducted by Kaushalya Fernando in 2009. The Diploma programme entails all round training such as acting, script writing and analysis, directing, movement and vocal training.

The story line and the script of the play have been developed by the young theatre artistes, who have completed the training in Drama and Theatre arts at LCYTF. Development of the script was done under the supervision of Namal Jayasinghe.  Namal was the chief resource person of the script writing and analysis section of the diploma programme. Gladiator Premaya is based on a certain Sri Lankan contemporary social issues. They are dramatized on stage to bring forth the youth point of view of the issues. The play is co-directed by Prasanna Mahagamage and Namal Jayasinghe.  Prasanna works with Kaushalya on Acting, Directing and Movements sections of the diploma programme. Both Namal and Prasanna joined Play House-Kotte in 1997 and obtained their training in theatre arts at LCYTF.

Gladiator Premaya cast includes Wishvajith Gunasekera, Sampath Chaminda Jayaweera, Priyantha Siri Kumara, Kalana Gunasekera,  Nadishani Weliwita, Harsha Thennekoon, Sulochana Weerasinghe, Nadishani Padmasiri, Geetha Alahakoon, Mayura Kanchana, Nilanka Dahanayake, Dilip Kumara.

Sanda Langa Maranaya (Blood Wedding) is the Sinhala version of Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding. Blood Wedding, one of the famous trilogy based upon Spanish society, written by Federico Garcia Lorca in response to a news paper article concerning a local murder in rural Spain. The story of the play is a triangle of passionate love among a bridegroom, a married man, and a young bride. The play basically is a tragedy of missed love, focusing certain universal themes such as extremism, intolerance, and inflexibility in society which makes it relevant for all times.  

The production is a semi-musical-surrealistic-type which is a familiar theatrical experience to the local audiences.  The choreographed movements, music and rhythm, and vivid lighting and colours in addition to very intense acting on stage impart an entertaining yet intense theatre encounter.

Sanda Langa Maranaya was adjudged the best play of the year at National Drama Festival in 2005. It won eight awards in total at the festival for different categories.