Shakespeare enthusiasts on stage

By Hansini Munasinghe

With their many facets and ulterior motives, raging passions and subtle moods, Shakespeare’s characters are some of the most complex and realistic idols of the stage. From Iago of Othello to Anthony’s Cleopatra, they represent a myriad of human characteristics, and it is their very depth that challenges the actor.

It is this challenge that the talented young actors and actresses took up at the Inter School Shakespeare Drama Competition semi finals held recently, at the Lionel Wendt Theatre, Colombo. This annual spectacle drew a full house of theatre lovers both young and old.

Organised by the Rotary Club of Colombo North and the Central YMCA Colombo, the Shakespeare Drama Competition saw the participation of 31 schools from many areas of Sri Lanka including Colombo, Kandy, Panadura, Gampaha, Negombo and Galle.

The 15 schools that took part in the semi-finals in the girls category were Sirimavo Bandaranike Vidyalaya, Good Shepherd Convent, Hillwood College Kandy, Holy Cross College Gampaha, Ave Maria Convent Negombo, Mahamaya Girl’s College Kandy, St. Laurence’s School, Girls’ High School Kandy, Devi Balika Vidyalaya, St. Bridget’s Convent, Holy Family Convent, St. Joseph’s Balika Vidyalaya, Methodist College and Sri Sumangala Balika Vidyalaya Panadura.

The semi-finalists in the boys category were Loyola College Negombo, Richmond College Galle, St. Sylvester’s College Kandy, DS Senanayake College, Vidyartha College Kandy, St. Joseph’s College, St. Peter’s College, Ananda College, Marie Stella College, Mahinda College Galle, St. Benedict’s College, Trinity College, St. Thomas’ College, Wesley College, Royal College and St. Anthony’s College. After a nail-biting competition, it was up to the panel of judges- consisting of three renowned names in Sri Lankan theatre, Ms. Kaushika Premarathne, Mr. Jehan Aloysius and Mr. Greham Hatch- to select the eight schools that would enter the finals.

Hillwood College Kandy, Newstead College Negombo, Girls’ High School Kandy and St. Bridget’s Convent were chosen for the girls’ finals, and D S Senanayake College, Ananda College, St. Thomas’ College and St. Benedict’s College were selected as the finalists in the boys’ category.

So far the competition has seen varying talents of the young actors and actresses, as each school presented segments of Shakespearean plays including Othello, Anthony & Cleopatra, Love’s Labour Lost, Coriolanus, Twelfth Night, Anthony & Cleopatra, The Taming of the Shrew and Measure for Measure.

Creative stage usage and different interpretations of the plays, for example in Ananda College’s rendition of the Taming of the Shrew in a Sinhalese village setting and Wesley College’s simplistic, “edited” Othello that revolved around Iago and sought to present Emilia through an alternative perspective, added diversity to the competition.

Commenting on the performances in the girls’ category, Mr. Aloysius said that the judges expect a high standard at the Inter School Shakespeare Competitions. He advised students to concentrate more on the text, emphasising the importance of “looking at the nuances and subtleties of the plays”. Comedy requires “rhythm, timing and teamwork” and to focus should be on creating “witty laughter”, he added.The finals of the Inter School Shakespeare Drama Competition will be held on October 20 (girls’ category) and 21(boys’ category) at the Bishop’s College Auditorium from 6pm onwards. Tickets will be sold at M/S Simon & Associates, 3rd Floor, 40 Galle Face Court 2, Colombo 3 from October 14 onwards.

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