They prove they are special!
By Dinidu Karunanayake
The bright flashlights create a heavenly aura upon the spacious stage. Two rows of children, 20 in each row, enter the stage from the two corners, and form a semicircle around the dozen musical instruments deposited on the centre of the stage. Orderly, several of the group step forward to pick their instruments. Music starts. A Prophet’s journey starts on the stage. The rhythmic bodies move energetically. The audience is taken on an enthralling journey for 40 minutes.

This was not just another performance that we witnessed on December 22 at the Janakala Kendraya in Battaramulla. Despite the fact that it appeared quite normal, in fact, it was so special. All the 40 performers, except for the two guest artistes, were intellectually challenged.

This short play titled Teiyat Ta is the latest activity organised by the ThIDORA Institute (Theatre Institute for Disability Oriented Research and Advocacy) in Thalawatugoda. The 40 students who are trained at the ThIDORA institute contribute with their dazzling performance to the play scripted by Prof. Sunanada Mahendra based on the narrative poem, The Journey of the Prophet by Bertolt Brecht. Chorography is handled by Ramani Damayanthi, who in addition, makes sure that the children are well taken care of with motherly attention on and off the stage. Renowned musician Gayan Ganakadara has composed music while the lyrics are by Jayampathi Algama and Rohana Deva. Interestingly, the short play features a hybrid dancing with segments from Kolam, low-country dancing and even Western dancing. Under the supervision of the acclaimed choreographer Karunadasa Olaboduwa, the low-country dance called ‘Gini Sisila’ is skilfully performed by the intellectually disabled for the first time ever in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, as Rohana Deva points out, this is the first time that Sri Lanka witnesses the emergence of a musical band led by a group of intellectually disabled children.

Rohana Deva who initiated this institute with his 20-year experience in theatre mentions with gratitude how this endeavour was made possible by a US project called ‘Project Ahimsa’ with funds for the workshops and the musical instruments. The workshops are conducted from 9a.m. to 1:30p.m., everyday at ThIDORA Theatre in Thalawatugoda.

Gayan Ganakadara, expressing his views, emphasised the speciality of each child. Even though there are unavoidable challenges in training the children due to their biological conditions, working with them has been an enthralling experience for him. The children would give vent to rhythm once they are exposed to music, as he emotionally mentions. Undoubtedly, the play illustrates the extent of the dedication made by the organisers in understanding the psychology of these children and patiently opening doors for their creative output.
Teiyat Ta will be premiered at the John de Silva theatre on January 8, 2010 at 6:45 p.m.


Over 180 AL students receive scholarships
By Sarashi Samarasinghe
More than 180 students island-wide received merit scholarships for best performances in the GCE (A.L.) Examination of August 2009. These scholarships were in three sections such as all island best performers in all four streams - Maths, Biology, Commerce and Arts as district best performers in all four streams together with Colombo schools best performers in all four streams at Pragnyawalokanaya, a ceremony conducted by the Leo Club of Colombo Wekanda, 306 CI along with the Academy of Business Studies Institute (ABSI) on December 28 at the BMICH.

The chief guest was Minister of Education Susil Premajayantha, guest of honour Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Patalie Champika Ranawaka.
Addressing the gathering Project Chairperson, Leo Club of Colombo Wekanda 306 CI Dhanushka Ramanayake said,“We started the ‘Pragnyawalokanaya’ concept in the year 2006 by joining hands with the ABS Institute by organising a mass scale A/L seminars for students following science and commerce streams addressed by well-known lecturers.

“More than 1,000 students from all around the district benefited from this project and in the same year conducted a multi religious ceremony to bless the students sitting for their A/L examinations,” said Ramanayake adding that the project turned out to be a huge success with gracefully conducted Buddhist, Christian and Hindu religious services.
“To reward our efforts students participated in numbers for the event and it was continued in 2007 and in 2008 as well,” he said.

Ramanayke emphasised that they were unable to carry out the Hindu religious blessings in the years 2007 and 2008 due to unavoidable circumstances.
“We did not conduct the religious blessing programme as well as the seminars last year because of the security reasons so we thought of conducting a scholarship awarding ceremony with the intention of lending a helping hand for bright students to uplift their future.”
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the ABS Institute, Wasantha Fernando said that ABS from the beginning in 1995 provided the students with a value added education package through high quality teaching in a state of the art lecture environment.

“ABS decided to offer these scholarships amounting to five million rupees in order to create a better pathway for those students who have excelled at the A/L examination through CIMA and CIM,” said Fernando.
He further stated that ABS, being the most award winning business academy, aimed to generate more world and Sri Lankan prize winners and this scholarship scheme created an ideal opportunity for these best performers to beat the world under the able guidance of a dedicated panel of lecturers at ABS.

“This scholarship awarding ceremony which is organised by the Leo Club of Colombo Wekanda, 306 C1 together with ABS Institute is a very fruitful one and I hope that these kinds of projects will create better opportunities for outstanding students lacking a proper career direction,” said Minister Premajayantha.
He further stated that he expects ABS would continue programmes of this nature in the future as well.
According to Ramanayake, it is hoped to come up with a ‘Pragnyawalokanaya’ vocational training centre shortly.

“There was a request from Germany for our Leo Club for the starting a vocational training centre in Sri Lanka backed by German funds. So we accepted their request and thought of beginning a new vocational centre in Horana,” said Ramanayake.

He further stated that Germany would be funding Rs.10 billion for this project and they thought of putting up a vocational training centre as such specially for the children of low income groups and for children who were unable to enter a university for their higher education. Training would be given in motor winding, late machine works, welding, electronics along with in many other fields. Already there had been a very good response from the government as well regarding the up coming project.

“I wish to place on record my sincere gratitude to the Prime Minister, Ratnasiri Wickremanayake and also to the Horana Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) organiser, Vidura Wickramanayake for the immense support towards this project,” said Ramanayake.


2012: A nightmare with a happy ending
By Senel Wanniarachchi
‘Judgment days’ keep popping up in history. Year 2000 came and passed – one that many considered to be the year of humanity’s doom’; and with veteran German disaster film guru, Roland Emmerich’s latest adrenaline rising production arriving at theatres; 2012 has become the new 2000.

On Saturday, December 12, Art Television held a “Special Night Show” of this epic movie at the Savoy theatre. Art TV was right to call the show ‘special’, for the show was indeed ‘special’ in many aspects. The show, which commenced minutes before midnight, went on till about half-past two the following morning. As nocturnal as it may sound, this was indeed what was most inviting of the show, for which tickets had to be ‘won’, as opposed to being purchased. The feeling of stepping out of the theatre, on a day different to the one that we entered the same. complimented with the feeling of the ‘new world’ with which the movie ended.

“From the Director of Independence Day and Day After Tomorrow, we were warned. Who will be left behind? The end is just the beginning. Mankind’s earliest civilisation warned us, this day would come...” The teaser trailer of 2012 makes the movie sound like just another disaster movie. This, however, is not exactly the case. 2012 has much more to it than a pulverising disaster movie. It is an incongruous sentimental drama about a broken family, it’s a harbinger of the unpredictability of the future, an illustration of the enormous power of nature and how timid mankind is, before the same, and most of all, it is an awe-inspiring, poignant piece about the very essence of being humane and civilised.

This cinematic creation opens with a haphasard lives of random individuals: A failed science fiction writer (played by John Cusack), a conscience-stricken scientist (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a snappish White House official (Oliver Platt), a radio-host crackpot (Woody Harrelson) and many more. Emmerich, like an expert un-jumbling the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, brings these individuals together, all with the common aim of survival.
This apocalyptic film, distributed by Columbia Pictures, centres around an ensemble cast of characters, as they narrowly escape a multitudes of catastrophes, in an effort to reach the ‘Arks’ in the Himalayas, along with scientists and governments of the world who are attempting to save as many lives as they can before the disasters ensue.

This perfect blend of mythology, fiction and science makes brief references to Mayanism and the 2012 phenomenon, in its portrayal of cataclysmic events foreseen to be unfolding in the year 2012. Because of solar flare bombardment, the Earth’s core is prophesied to begin heating up at an unprecedented rate, eventually causing crustal displacement. This results in an onslaught of Doomsday event scenarios plunging the world into utter chaos. The film is tantamount to a 21st century retelling of the story of Noah’s Arch in the Gospels, as the heads of state of the G8 summit begin a massive, secret project intended to ensure the survival of humanity. Only 400,000 people are chosen to board a series of Arks to be constructed in the Himalayas.

Acting as a counterbalance to the action of an unprecedented level, are the little touches of comic relief added by Emmerich. Gordon (Tom McCarthy) tells his wife, Kate (Amanda Peet), “I feel like something is pulling us apart.” Then a gaping fissure opens between them in the aisle of the supermarket where they’re standing and ‘pulls them apart’. This, among many others, makes 2012 destruction served with a smile.
“Time for Miracles” by the American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert is the official soundtrack of this US$ 200 million production, the cinematography, production design and visual effects are simply breathtaking. Emmerich, being the virtuoso of panoramic computer graphics maven he is, has densely packed shots in this masterpiece of a movie with hellish detail as Da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’;

“I know we’ve all been forced to make difficult decisions to save our human civilisation. But to be human means to care for each other, and civilisation means to work together, to create a better life” says Adrian Helmsley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) “If that’s true, then there’s nothing human and nothing civilised about what we’re doing here. “The moment we stop fighting for each other, that’s the moment that we lose our humanity”, in one of the most awe-inspiring moments of the film.

Having organised premiers for ‘Night at the Museum’, ‘X-Men’, ‘Ice Age 3’, ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘This Is It’, among others, the organising team of the Art TV “Special Night Show” comprised Indunil, Saranga, Sanjay and Shashika, Tyner, Sabrina, Sanjeeva and Shalini.
Were the Mayans true? There is only one day to find out. Just live today to the fullest, cause you never know if tomorrow’s doomsday.


Antichrist strikes hot with sex and horror
By K.S. Sivakumaran
Would you call it pornography, erotica or mutilating horror? I am referring to the controversial film by the Danish filmmaker Lars Von Trier, shown at the recently concluded Kerala International Film Festival. The film is anti-Christian, in the sense it goes beyond acceptable religious values and morality. The film is rightly titled Antichrist.
Like any other South Asian, with values different from the European kind, I was naturally disturbed by the explicit sex acts, and worst of all, nailing into the bones of a man with a heavy roller, and the fear and uncertainty.
All this ingredients collect into a vendetta by evil in the form of a saddened mother and the eventual brutal killing of the beloved wife (the mother of a fallen dead child) by her husband himself. That’s how the films sequences are made.

Apparently, the film is more than what it shows on the surface, in the sense, it is more psychological and philosophical, thus elevating the film to a level that could not be dismissed as mere jinx
As I understood it, the film subtly suggest the consequences of evil taking the better seat, even in otherwise noble and deeply loved couples.

Ironically, the husband is a therapist and the wife is a loving spouse and mother. But when confronted with a severe loss, they lose their cool. Fear engulfs the wife, and the husband comforts her through psychological means, and intimacy through bodily pleasures.

The first half of the film shows the man dominating the scene, even to the extent of being hated by the wife, although his intentions were honest in bringing the depressed wife to normality. The wife knows that, but her deep grievance in having lost the child, makes her evil of a woman. She becomes stronger in the latter half of the film, and the man succumbs to her ferocious outpourings. I had a feeling that she becomes Kaali, a destroyer among the Hindu Goddesses. She is, in fact, Shakthi (Energy) that is the driving force. But she could also be a destroyer, if something goes wrong.

The atmosphere in the film, from start to end, is eerie. It has parallels in the outward natural surroundings of jungles and solitariness, and also the vagaries of human nature.
Although I was taken aback at first, as the story developed, I tried to read meanings into the film, and that astonished me. The screenplay, with short and dimensional usage words uttered with clarity, to evoke the viewer to get into the action of the film gradually, is commendable. The director himself has written it.
This is a black and white film made this year, and it befits the purpose, without distracting the viewer and shown at Cannes. Charlotte Gainsbourg, not a glamorous star, but with a sexually appealing figure, plays the role of the evil woman. She won Best Actress at the Cannes International film Festival this year. The male role is played by Willem Dafoe.

This film is a co-production of five countries- Denmark, Germany, France, Sweden and Italy. The technical aspects of the film such as cinematography, editing and sound are remarkably appreciable.