A fairy tale that has a lesson for parents too
Playwright, director and screenwriter Ruwanthie de Chickera’s first play in five years, ‘Kalumaali: a Fairy Tale for Grown-Ups’ is a unique theatre project, one of the first in recent memory to be staged in both the English and Sinhala languages. It deals with a subject that touches everyone – parenting.
The play centres on seven-year-old Saki. The tale of Kalumaali is a much-loved and oft-repeated fairy tale in her family. In fact, it is the one story that little Saki can never get enough of, because she knows that every time it is recited she can look forward to a new spin on it.
Through the different accounts of this fairy tale, we understand the complex and deep realities of the several adults in Saki’s life – and the interplay between them – which lead us to insights about the experience of bringing up children in present-day Sri Lanka.
De Chickera has tapped into acting royalty in bringing this to the stage: Film, TV and theatre legend Iranganie Serasinghe makes an appearance in the play, along with well-known talent Peter D’Almeida, Kaushalya Fernando, Nadie Kammallaweera and Lakmini Seneviratne. Serasinghe and D’Almeida tread the boards after a hiatus of many years.
In tackling themes of motherhood, De Chickera could think of none other than Iranganie Serasinghe for the role of Film Achchi, a woman who serenely balances a life in the arts with that of a homemaker.
“To this generation of mothers, Aunty Iranganie is somebody who did it all before us with so much grace and style,” says Ruwanthie. “She continued to be an artist and I couldn’t think of anyone more fitting for the role. She had seen the reading of Cast As Mother and liked it. So when I asked her she took it on very happily.” With regard to Peter D’Almeida, she says she realized that she wanted an actor with broad appeal amongst Sinhala and English-speaking audiences. But she was reluctant at first, since he hadn’t been on stage in a long while. “I would have loved to have worked with Peter on my other shows, but for this one because it was in two languages, I thought I’d finally give it a shot.”
Presented by Stages Theatre Group and aided by the Sunethra Bandaranaike Trust, the play will be staged at the Lionel Wendt from September 13–16, at 7.15 p.m. It will be performed entirely in English on opening and closing nights (Thursday, September 13 & Sunday, September 16) and in Sinhala on Friday, September 14 and Saturday, September 15.
The play is co-sponsored by Unilever and John Keells Holdings. The print media sponsors are Wijeya Newspapers. Music Design is by Halien Production House. Tickets are available at the Lionel Wendt.
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