By Shabna Cader
Meeting up with Jehan Aloysius and the rest of the cast of The Day Will Come, was a tad bit difficult, when considering the fact that, the cast meets up only in the night for their rehearsals, and I almost ended up getting lost in the dark of the night, trying to find the location! Nevertheless, as I walked into the rehearsals, all the cast members got the shock of their lives; I had no idea why, until Jehan casually explained that they have been talking about ghosts! Right, sorry for walking in suddenly!

CentreStage Productions is now preparing to stage their next hit production - The Day Will Come... which will go on the boards at the Punchi Theatre, Borella, from June 12 to 15, 2008 at 7.30 p.m. The play, written and directed by Jehan Aloysius, was short listed for the Gratiaen Award for Literature, in 2000, in a collection of plays.

The theatre troupe’s recent successes include the sell-out productions of Caliban’s Rebellion, Pyramus & Thisby, Bengal Bungalow, Rag – The Musical and The Ritual – all of which have enjoyed full houses and excellent reviews. In fact, their recent production was sold out, including the extra performance night.

The cast is not too large and comprises prominent English theatre personalities including Mohamed Adamaly, Prasad Pereira, Rajiv Ponweera, Shanaka Amarasinghe, Natalie Blacker and Wanda Godlieb, supported by Michelle Herft, Sashane Perera and Geethicke de Silva.

Speaking with the cast, individually, they are so different from each other, so in contrast that, it is difficult to imagine them working together under one production. I’m beginning to think Jehan has too much he can handle on his plate, but I’m convinced otherwise, once I begin interacting them.

For Prasad Pereira, this is the first time he is working with Jehan, though he has done dramas before. Speaking of the character he plays, “Jehan’s description of Adam is a bachelor with hope. He’s not a very strong character, but his presence is felt in a very introverted manner, and my role is much a part of the cast as the others. Jehan brings a very academic approach to the drama, and it’s very interesting, as we are not professionally trained actors but, with him, we are able to train ourselves in an academic sense,” he said.

Rajiv Ponweera who plays the role of ‘Josephus’ said that his “character is very reserved, but has much potential. He has a son who provides for his needs and brings the elders in the play, food supplies, which brings him a lot of pride. I have a wife named Sophie, and we’re the only family structure visible in the play. I haven’t worked with many of the cast members before and during our rehearsals, there is always a lot to learn”.

The role of BM, also known as the Black Marketer, is played by Geethicke de Silva. “My character is the youngest in the entire play within the ages of 20-23. He supplies goods for the elders and is a very impressive character, that does sometimes go over the top. I have done drama before, a little bit, but this is the first time I’m working with such a young cast. It can be a little intimidating but, all in all, it has been a wonderful experience” he said.

Natalie Blacker is generally known to talk of others, rather than herself, but is quite open to being questioned. “I play the role of ‘Sophia’, wife of Josephus, who, are both physically and emotionally aged. She does everything she can for the group of elders, but her efforts aren’t appreciated. I like working with Jehan and his attention towards detail, it’s something I haven’t experienced previously with other directors. The cast, on the other hand, is quite nice. I’m very introvert, when it comes to making friends but, I’m glad to say that I have made friends” she said happily.

“My role is very complex and symbolic of other people’s darker side. The reason I did this drama was, to work with Jehan; I found him to be very theoretical and taps into drama in a way I haven’t seen before. Of the cast, I must say that we don’t get on everyone’s nerves and we complement each other really well, though we are diverse and different from one another” said Shanaka Amarasinghe.

Adamaly plays the role of ‘Abraham’, who seems to have assumed leadership of the group. “He’s very analytical and very observant and also, the only one who knows what’s going in the outside world. Jehan has worked under me before, but this is the first time I’m working under him. He’s authoritative and diplomatic and open to ideas that the cast expresses” he said.

For Jehan Aloysius, “It’s been an exciting process, working with such an experienced cast. I can honestly say that the actors fit their roles perfectly. I guess, I’m very glad I’ve waited 14 years to produce this play, which I wrote when I was just 16! In fact, this is the first of my four plays short-listed for the Gratiaen Prize 2000 (in the manuscript ‘The Screaming Mind’) that I have chosen to finally produce. As a director, I now feel sufficiently distanced from the playwright, and am able to adapt the script while rehearsing it. In a way, I feel I’m rewriting the script, as I direct it, as all directors do in a way. I’ve been doing a few light plays recently, so, I’m enjoying working on this piece of serious theatre that makes people think.”
The play will go on the boards of the Punchi Theatre, Borella from June 12 – 15 opening at 7.30 p.m.

Tickets for The Day Will Come..., priced at 750/-, 500/- and 250/- (balcony), are now available at the Punchi Theatre. So rush now! Please call 2672121 for ticket details.


AGASTHI by Lalith Senanayake

They say a picture can say a thousand words; it is the same with a well drawn cartoon. Not only can it convey the meaning but also it can add meaning to an article.

In the early years of the 90s, the Nawaliya and the Vidusara newspapers carried a series of pocket cartoons of this nature. The cartoons which were created with just a few brush strokes were really popular among the public. And the creator of these cartoons received so much attention and it is through those cartoons that the world got to know who Lalith Senanayake is.

Like many budding artists of his time it was the Diploma Course carried out by the National Museum on traditional drawings and other art traditions that enabled Lalith to improve his talents. This Diploma Course was carried out by S.P Charles. He learnt many things about art ranging from, modern art, art history and sculpture.

When Lalith Senanayake entered the world of news paper, the newspaper industry in Sri Lanka was undergoing a huge revolution. It had started using computer based methods. Lalith understood that through computer technology he could venture into new things.

He took a course on professional computer graphic designing. The final result was that he became a graphic artist for The Island and the Diwaina newspapers. He did the cartoons for most of the political columns of those newspapers. Those cartoons were very popular among the readers. Some of the pioneers in this field like, W. Wijesoma, Shantha K. Herath, and Janaka Rathnayaka had provided him guidance and a lot of support.

During the time, when Upali Tennakoon was working in the Nawaliya newspaper, Lalith got the opportunity of working with him which eventually led him into joining the Rivira newspaper. During these many years of his career, he has created numerous paintings, sculptors, and art works.

A collection of these brilliant art work and sculpts would be exhibited at the Harold Peiris Gallery from June 12th till the June 15th.


A compendium on Lankan music

By K.S. Sivakumaran
There is a fine compendium of Sinhala Music by the late singer and researcher Devar Surya Sena. However, the large size book of 210 pages, replete with black and white 14 vintage photographs and musical notations in Sinhala and English, is titled ‘Music of Sri Lanka’. The book is published by Vijitha Yapa publishers. The book has two appendixes and other pages, which give valuable information about the famous Devar Surya Sena and Sinhala Music

The book includes apart from the Foreword, Preface, and Introduction of ‘Music of Sri Lanka’, epilogue and other details. The main subject is neatly described in two parts. The respective chapters under these two parts are as follows: What is Sinhala Music, Music in Early Times, Chanted Poetry Kavi, Sinhala Folk Songs and Folk Drama, Viridu and Viraha, Modern Sinhala Musical Drama, Sinhala Musical Instruments Kandyan Music, Music of Ruhuna, Music of the East Coast Thamil Music, Muslim Kavi and Folk songs of the Ceylon Moors and Music of the Ceylon Portuguese.

Thus we see Devar Surya Sena’s pioneer work is an almost comprehensive compendium of Lankan Music. As the blurb says,” the greatest achievement of Devar Surya Sena was, in introducing the hitherto little known traditional Sinhala Music, to the people of Sri Lanka as well as to the rest of the world. As a singer, he was famous in his homeland and in other countries”

One should thank the publishers and Devar Surya Sena Trust for bringing out this book. Valuable information is given by Marina Ismail in the Preface. The Introduction is an unsigned article, which is also illuminating on the subject.

Who was this Devar Surya Sena? He was born on March 29, 1899 and died in 1981. He has a Christian upbringing and yet his rooted Sinhala consciousness was evident, in his practices. He was a violinist and vocalist.
He was the son of the famous Sir James Peiris (Yasmine Gooneratne has written an article on him. I cannot remember where and when).

Deva was baptised Herbert Charles Jacob Peiris. A double graduate (Arts & Law) of the Cambridge University in U.K., he was also a nationalist and intellectual. His wife Nelun Devi was also a participant in his musical performances. As this book is written in English both local and foreign non- Sinhala music enthusiasts would be enlightened, on what constitute Sinhala Music. The book is worth possessing.


Noreen Welikala completes 50 years

By Nabiha Ariff
Noreen Welikala, principal of Stafford International School will be retiring after 50 long years of service to the school. According to her it has been a splendid journey and along with the students that came and went she too has learnt a lot.

The school has been through it’s rough times in the past but managed to somehow survive and is now one of the leading international schools. It was initially an all girls school and was called Stafford Ladies College, however after the concept of English medium schools increased rapidly, she too managed to expand the school and it is now a co-education school.

“In my career, I have dealt with over two generations of children, their parents who have entrusted their most precious possessions to our care and of course the teachers who guide and teach the children”, said the principal.

She added that one of the important lessons she has learnt during the journey is that one needs to be firm but that a touch of humaneness is an essence that is valued and appreciated.

“It has definitely been an enjoyable journey, every day that I worked as a principal was memorable”, Welikala said. She added that to have a successful career it also depends on the environment, the environment in school was such that she was able to spend 50 years as a principal. Every body in the staff as well as the administration has been very enthusiastic and appreciative in everything I did and have had a major helping hand throughout these 50 years. Making fair decisions and learning to stick to principles, is essential for any institution to bear in mind, said Welikala.

When she began her career as a teacher she had no other option, “those days teaching was the only job suitable for a girl, now children have a variety of options and opportunities”, the principal said.
According to Welikala, before one does anything it is necessary to have a conscience and if you follow that, things will go the way you want them to.

Welikala studied in a school with high morals and values, she gives credit to the school for who she is today. She studied in Ladies College and the school has instilled in her, such discipline that she was able to bring forward when she nurtured an international school herself. Thus she is very grateful to her Alma Mater and is proud to be a student of that school.

She is extremely grateful and thankful to all those who’ve supported her throughout these long years of service. Especially her husband Clarence Welikala, her two children, daughter in law, senior teachers who have always supported the school and given good results and the board of directors as well.


A novel needlecraft exhibition

Indumathi Paranavithana’s needle craft exhibition “Stitch Fantasy” was held on June 6 and 7 at the National Arts Gallery, Colombo 07. This is her third exhibition and included over 100 items. Indumathi Paranavithana displays her talents in embroidery techniques like Ribbon, Brazeelian, Hardanger, Crewel, Paper Tall and Paper Quilling, in her wide range of unusual creations. Books written by her on various embroidery techniques were also exhibited.