Naribena celebrates 50 years

Commemoration on the April 4 at John de Silva

The popular stage play Naribena of renowned dramatist Dayananda Gunawardena which went on boards for the first time on March 1, 1961 completes 50 years this year.
To commemorate this milestone, Nalu Keerthi Sabha Theatre Group set up by the late Mr Gunawardena has organised a special performance of the drama and principal addresses by eminent Professor Tissa Kariyawasam and renowned film and theatre personality Jackson Anthony.

The event is scheduled for April 4, 2011 at the John de Silva Theatre at 6:45 pm. Chairperson of Nalu Keerthi Sabha Mrs Irangani Gunawardena said that this commemoration ceremony is open to all theatre enthusiasts. “Even after Dayananda Gunawardena’s untimely demise, this masterpiece has continued to entertain both the young and the old here and abroad for the last 50 years due to the relentless dedication and hard work of artistes, musicians, singers, technical staff and organisers,” she said.
At the time he wrote Naribena which was based on two folk tales, he was working as a Geography teacher at Kegalu Vidyalaya. Later it was staged as a school production at Thursten College Colombo on November 4, 1960.

Music was composed for the play by Lionel Algama while choreography was by Basil Mihiripenna. Following its maiden public performance in 1961, Naribena staged by the Amateur Theatre Society passed its 100th milestone appearance within one year and eight months.
Naribena became an instant favourite in the 1960s and was highlighted in the media at the time as having been viewed by every 125th person in the country. The band of viewers was further broadened when Naribena was staged in Tamil as ‘Nari Mapulai’ in 1963.

Later, in 1978 under a Cultural Exchange Programme, this play was translated to German and was staged in Western Germany with German actors and actresses directed by Dayananda Gunawardena. This play has also been included into the Sri Lankan school curriculum.
The cast includes Bandula Wijeweera, Rodney Warnakula, Neil Alles, Sarath Kulanga, Rathnasheela Perera, Ferni Roshini, Kumara Liyanage, Indika Jayasinghe, Indika Ramanayake, Shalika Wanigaratne, Kanthi Jayawickrema, Sujani Nisanka and Mahesh Amarakoon. Music direction is by Pubudu Roshan Walpita. Stage management is by Asoka Jayasinghe and makeup is handled by Prakash Galgewela.
For further information: Wasantha Gunawardena (0777 661232, info@naribena.com)
Web: www.naribena.com


Hot Air Balloon Festival 2011

By Sarasi Paranamanna
The Hot Air Balloon Festival is to conclude with a display of all the balloons that flew in the festival. The balloons will be showcased at 7 p.m. on April 1 at Independence Square which will surely be a treat for the eyes as the balloons are to be displayed like massive lighted up bulbs.
More than forty balloonists participated in the fourth hot air balloon festival which commenced from March 19, 2011. As an addition to the ‘Visit Sri Lanka’ year calendar the hot air balloon festival was organised by Ceylon Air Ship and Balloon Club (CABC) in association with the Sri Lanka Tourism.
This year the festival featured a balloon designed and produced by Sri Lanka and an Alaskan company. “The hot air balloon is named ‘Alaska’ and we are hoping to fly it at this year’s festival,” said Captain Anil Jayasinghe, CABC Chairman. Participants from Japan, USA, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Sri Lanka attended the festival and steered 15 hot air balloons which glided over the beautiful vast lands from Sigirya to Jaffna.
The festival, which kick started in 2003 pioneered hot air ballooning as a great adventure sport and an opportunity to see the beauty of Sri Lanka from a different angle. This festival is the first event of this sort happening in South Asia. “This sport is still new to this part of the world and being a niche sport and also due to investment costs the sport is practiced only in certain countries still,” said Capt. Jayasinghe.
The fourth annual hot air balloon festival was held in two phases. The first phase was held on March 21, 22 and 23 and the second from March 26 – 27. The flying sessions were held in Jaffna, Down South and Sigiriya. “This year we can fly over a free Sri Lanka and visit areas which were not accessible earlier due to the internal conflict,” said Capt. Jayasinghe at a press briefing held prior to the festival. However, he quipped that hot air ballooning was not possible in the areas of Colombo due to congestion.
This year the balloon festival offered rides to the public to get a taste of this niche sport and to enjoy the expanding views of Sri Lankan scenic beauty from the sky.


Man versus mosquito

By A. F. Dawood
Oh! ubiquitous mosquitoes,
Mankind’s sworn enemy;
Though but a dot compared to man
With whom you have waged war
To snuff out their life with venom
Perennial is your battle with man
Whose blood you suck with tiny pincers;
Your attack a devastating blow to humanity
And man is vanquished in the battle.

Blame we the Creator
For the blatant injustice to us.
Nectar in flowers for bees and butterflies;
Grains and fruits and insects for birds;
Grass and foliage for beasts in. the wood;
So on what victual do we subsist?
Save man’s blood on which we feed.
So huts, houses, gardens we invade,
Buzz and buzz and sting them for blood.
Man has used coils and sprays
And fumed his abode with burning leaves,
But we little creatures have overwhelmed
His strategy.

Oh! odious mosquitoes, a menace to mankind,
You prick and suck the blood of all and sundry
And babes in arms sans an iota of compunction,
For your goal is to wipe out humanity.
Guns and bombs and swords of man
Not a match to your vicious force;
Your three pronged attack Malaria, Filarial, Dengue
Could put the Country’s Force to shame!
To overcome the horror of mosquito havoc
Man should rise from his slumber of indolence
And promote a pollution free environment.
Stagnant water, clogged drains, garbage heap
Should be wiped out from the face of the earth.
Then man can conquer the mosquitoes,
And that would be mosquitoes doomsday.


A dissolution of sorrow

And the end of old beginnings

Meet him – and you must – and you can now read close on fifty of his poems he claims are his Letters From Far Away. Letters... or a flow of thoughts, meditations, obsequies, the telling of the dissolution of sorrow, the end of old beginnings, long fiery draughts of an ocean that is life and blank sheets of rising dawns...
Yes, meet Derrick Gamini Pieris Seneviratne – a poet I have been privileged to know for ever so long; whose ever impending exhalation of spirit has found his lines in so many anthologies, and I would list them all if I were given leave to do so. But, as he in An Epilogue (p. 4) says:

“… we did not seek to weave
old threads into new patterns: common sense
demanded that we build anew
and sentiment could not resist it since
we stood on a concrete experience.”

This is Gamini, and it was in November 2009 that his Letters From Far Away were read, proof-read, and published in greater part by his wife, in whose memory this, his Requeiescat (p.7) spins forth:

will be like again tomorrow
she will die with me
Sweet faces skirts under falling leaves
in the windy avenue at noon down the school land
She should have lived
a little longer, till the buildings changed
and the places disappeared where the hours speed young with us under the awning, down the by-path
to breed brats
Myself, I should not have committed this death; but strangely, I survived.
Let me.
let her be born again
Justice pleads that yesterday was blind.

To take this collection is to render a fresh twilight that offers a cleavage in the air-blue sky above and the rosary in a nun’s hand. There is a quality of magic and a seeking for echoes and the silence of doom. Allow me to offer readers a bowl of so many sensations:

(1) She writes to me, I think. Our letters cross
as the mood takes us. The wrong letters cross.
Thoughts lapse into old patterns in the stagnant routine of the ring ­–
feint swing clinch break and once again
feint. No questions, no replies.
Nobody wins. Jeers-
without? within? Echoes in the emptiness;
Everybody’s gone to bed. Shadowless
under phantom lights we play in the invisible ring.
tell us - this Shakespeare,--
who was he? (Waiting for Ariel - p.2)

(2) Poor flesh
God’s body is made bread in the fruit of meditation for an exultation of the spirit deflowers the single man transmigrates the soul to animal decay and when the green awakens
to leaf on bare shoulders, fulfils with putrid scent the queen of the night.
(Meditation – p3)

(3) ... Writing now at the end of years with only a tickling ember of one’s hurt one could not feel, so much, remorse for what in social terms it meant, nor any regret for the inundated paradisial isles; only wonderthat beauty is born of friendship and those tears weren’t vainly shed for the innocence we lost the beauty that in innocence we squandered.
It seems born again now of stony-hearted days since love was castrate, beauty self-confined
the word compressed in the folds of desire;
indifference in its vacuum refined.
The virgin thought we were so loath to learn
indenting it on time’s grim pock-marked face
to prove that passion breeds nothing to admire
and showed us the ways of beauty which is stern.
(Lines from The Second Coming - p. 8)

Do we see a sudden onrush of newer understanding tinged with old-young regret? Let’s take the end-lines of yet another, shall we:

…Tears at departing ties one’s own life close, it rises to skin-deep; pores tear
Love lingers like the earth,
Rivers flow,
Hills and cities peddle fantasies
The dawn will lift. (From Parting at Dawn - (p.10)

His Paterfamilias offers four poems – the first For Arjuna, his son, accosting a portrait of Dorian Gray:

I can see the charm of my figure
in your face, son.
Time will invest your figure with the changes that time brings.
Let growing up, for you be as a seasoning of hard wood the hardwood that my face in your figure sometimes sees which your eyes on me
must less and less detect.

The next is for his brother, titled Maiyya, which offer what will and must come to be when all the astral intersections, curves and consequential tangents slide into space:

... You are still child, son,
freed by the rude beam of your brother’s oak
on which your parallels roll to infinity,
whose intro-linear graphs provide
nodes for tangencies.

The third is for his daughter Nanga and again we find a new making of love as though the times are now upon the poet to nerve himself to the fatherhood he near forgot to give:

And you my daughter, for whom
I have had so few words, survive the collapse of my lungs.
There will be voices sweet with singing, voices sweet singing in the garden, through a high window as now, in my mind, for you, as you lie asleep
I see you awake, dark-eyed, your raven hair,
in the arms of a careful mother.
Am I aggrieved, though, though there has been little conversation between us, as befits
father and daughter?

The fourth tells of naught but himself and of devouring nights, tired headlights, hither and thither, country-sides, and sentiment, hunger and the profanities of ill-spent days. Readers will find these Letters From Far Away projecting the very unconnected corridors of his life. He has to tell of what of what it has been to await the anguish of dying as well as the choking of life. We find these lines in Living, where he asks:

“Do the stars muster configurations to tug at the threads that bind this life to this body?” (p.17)

I could go on, and there is so much more, but a few here-and-there lines carry so much:

… How deep beauty is. How grave our need. How swift to die. Thank you Lord, for this goodbye. (Beauty - p. 29)

Take Gamini Seneviratne the way he now wishes to be taken. He has put every piece of life’s jigsaw together and in so doing has sought the glow of newer moons, brighter suns, an aptitude to live in a frame of ivory leaf and jasmine. Nothing can now make a new youthfulness retreat. He has spread his sorry make-up far and seen the new-life sensations return like a bowl of cascading flowers.
This is the man who was published in Young Commonwealth Poets ‘65, Heinemann, London – He was edited by Lakdhasa Wikkramasinha, Kandy, 1971 – Yasmine Gooneratne in Poems from India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore, 1979 – The Journal of South Asia Literature, edited Ranjini Obeysekera, Michigan, 1987 – Oh, so much more ... and now a newer Gamini awaits you. Read him ... Seek him out.


Kaffir Sthrella to fly with butterflies

ThIDORA Theatre Sri Lanka to be proudly presents ‘Kaffir Sthrela’ the maiden musical album of ‘Ceylon Kaffir’ which will be highly demanded.
ThIDORA has been working with differently-abled persons for many years as well as the less privileged sections of society to develop their skills in the field of arts. Now, for the first time, Ceylon Kaffir’s unique blend of music is sung in a language which is a mix of an African dialect as well as Portuguese. It is been recorded to be released as a music CD in an attempt to further popularise their melodies.
The community Kaffir was brought to Sri Lanka from South Africa by Portuguese during the time Portuguese ruled this island nation. As a result of the vibrant diversified customs and rituals of Sri Lankans this community still exists with their own culture in Sri Lanka even after more than 500 years though the no of heads are less than 200.
Along with the release of the maiden musical album of Ceylon Kaffir’s there to be staged a cultural performance named ‘Kaffir Sthrella with Butterflies’ choreographed by Ramani Damayanthi. Music directed by Janaka Fonseka. The event was sponsored by Centre for Poverty Analysis and to be staged on April 5 at 7:00 p.m. at the John De Silva Memorial Theatre, Colombo 7.
Those who wish to have more information, please call Rohana Deva on 0718113515. Please log on www.thidoratheatre.org for details of the institute.