14th January 2001
Front Page
Editorial/Opinion| Business
Sports| Mirror Magazine
The Sunday Times on the Web

Better late than never!

Pioneer dramatist John de Silva has been remembered in a fitting manner with the erection of a statue at the entrance to the theatre named after him near the National Art Gallery. Even though the John de Silva Memorial Theatre came up some years ago, his 'presence' there was not felt due to the absence of a statue. 

Professor Ediriweera Sarachchandra acknowledges that John de Silva was the man who exercised the greatest influence on the modern stage and on modern music. He cites John de Silva (1857-1922) and Charles Dias (1878-1944), both lawyers by profession, as two of the most important personalities of the theatre world after C. Don Bastian (1852-1921). As Sarachchandra points out, following the popularity of the Indian 'Elphinstone Dramatic Company' under Baliwallah which arrived in Colombo somewhere in the 1880s, Bastian presented our own old Nadagamas "in a new form introducing into them the Hindustani airs that were ringing in everybody's ears". 

John de Silva was born in Kotte and educated at Christian College, one of the earliest English schools set up by Anglican missionaries. He first became a teacher and later took to law and passed out as a proctor. Then he tried his hand at writing plays and proved quite successful. He was inspired by the Nadagam tradition too. 

His effort was to make the Nurti music more systematic applying the Sanskrit theory of 'rasa' or dramatic sentiment. With the help of Visvanath Lowjee, a musician from Mumbai, he used the conventions of classical North Indian music. Starting with 'Parabhava Natakaya', a satire on the Europeanised upper class, John de Silva picked episodes from our history to propagate national and religious sentiments among the people. He brought in the popular heroic characters in history as themes for his plays. 

They included Siri Sangabo, Sri Vikrama Rajasinghe, Devanampiyatissa, Vihara Maha Devi and Dutugemunu. These were the titles of his early plays. Later he wrote Ramayana, Sakuntala, Vessantara, Uttara Ramacharitaya, Ratnavali and Nagananda. 

Out in print

The winning manuscript of the 1999 D. R. Wijewardene Award, 'Vipiriyasaya' by Yasawardena Rodrigo has come out in print as a Dayawansa Jayakody publication. 

In his 14th effort at writing fiction, Rodrigo discusses a social theme - the changes brought about by the current trend of blocking out land for sale. He focuses on the conflict between the older generation and the new in handling such issues and tries to weigh the pros and cons of such social transformation.

Soft shades of small thingsSoft shades of small things

By Asoka de Zoysa
Establishing one's own identity is not easy in Sri Lanka, where questions like "Who was your father?", "Which school did you go to?" or "Where do you come from?" are the very first questions that greet you measuring your social status and financial background.

Undoubtedly, Mandalika Manjusri faces the difficult task of being recognised for her own merits. Having worked with her father Dr. L. T. P. Manjusri and brother Kushan as early as in 1980 on the project to adorn the walls of the new parliament with scenes from "Selalihini Sandeshaya", her name has been naturally linked to them when talking about Sri Lankan art. Often she is referred to as "Manjusri's daughter".

To sustain the inherited tradition, Mandalika continues to copy the temple paintings. The reproduction from Purvarama Viharaya in Kathuluwa seen at her exhibition now showing at Le Palace and the line drawing from Mulkirigala Raja Maha Viharaya show her love for ornament and detail. 

In her landscapes, she reduces trees and hills, human figures and animals into two-dimensional pictograms. Her water colour painting "Kandalama" is very much a 'female' landscape. The undulations of the terrain are shown in terms of sensual curves. 

Among her works, one encounters often the Madonna-like face with the slight tilt in "A glimpse from Pondichery" and in "Renunciation''. It is most likely that Mandalika was inspired by her recent visit to Auroville.

Her love for symmetry and coloured space does at times dampen her spontaneous expression. To those who love clashing colours, her paintings may appear bland. But on close observation, one can see that when using water colours in pastel shades, she experiments freely with transparent layers of colours achieving effects that are unique in avant garde Lankan painting.

Most fascinating about this exhibition is Mandalika's love for small things experienced in day to day life: Trees, animals and houses become symbols with a distinct mythology that have evolved from her very own personal experiences. 

Mandalika Manjusri's exhibition is on at Le Palace, 79 Gregory's Road Colombo 7 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. till January 20.

Remember Baloo, Bagheera and Shere Khan?

By Ruhanie Perera 
The room was full of elephants, mon- keys, panthers, snakes and bears. It may sound like I was wandering around in a jungle, but on the contrary I was in the heart of Colombo; at Royal College where the boys were rehearsing for yet another of their dramatic endeavours - 'Jungle Book'. 

The English Drama Society of Royal College has staged many successful dramas of which 'Merchant of Venice' and 'Arsenic and Old Lace' are the most recent. They now bring Colombo audiences an adaptation of the Walt Disney animated classic 'Jungle Book', a production that promises to be a wonderful experience not just for present-day kids, but also for generations of kids who have been captivated by the tale of the jungle boy 'Mowgli'. Don't miss the fun as Baloo, Bagheera, Shere Khan and Kaa take the stage from January 18 - 21 at the Lionel Wendt. 

Directed by reputed dramatist Indu Dharmasena the production will be unforgettable for more reasons than one. "The costumes need to look convincing and need to add to the atmosphere," says Indu, and thanks to her vivid imagination and the skills of Miriam Gunaratne (on whom the task of dressing up a menagerie of animals has fallen) the designing and making of elephant heads, monkey tails and snake skins seems to be on the road to success. 

The drama will be geared to create awareness on the importance of protecting the environment, a message that seems to fit in perfectly with their choice of play. Latin American dancer Shohan Chandiram also joins the Royalists to cook up animal dances for the catchy tunes played by Soundarie David. 

Index Page
Front Page
Mirrror Magazine

More Plus

Return to Plus Contents


Plus Archives

Front Page| News/Comment| Editorial/Opinion| Plus| Business| Sports| Mirror Magazine

Please send your comments and suggestions on this web site to 

The Sunday Times or to Information Laboratories (Pvt.) Ltd.

Presented on the World Wide Web by Infomation Laboratories (Pvt.) Ltd.
Hosted By LAcNet