Girls' semi-finals of the Inter-school Shakespeare Drama competition gets underway

16 September 2019 - 889   - 0

The first day of the semi-finals of the girls' schools at the 46th Inter-School Shakespeare Drama Competition organized by Colombo YMCA and Rotary Club of Colombo North kicked off yesterday (Sept 16). 

By Sashini Rodrigo and Ruqyyaha Deane

The first day of the semi-finals of the girls' schools at the 46th Inter-School Shakespeare Drama Competition organized by Colombo YMCA and Rotary Club of Colombo North kicked off yesterday (Sept 16). 

While a gloomy day outside, the inside of the Lionel Wendt Theatre was alive with laughter as the young actresses tackled Shakespeare’s revered comedies Twelfth Night and Much Ado About Nothing, interspersed with the tension from performances of tragedies such as Antony and Cleopatra as well as Romeo and Juliet.

Ananda Balika College was first up on stage with their interpretation of Twelfth Night or What You Will, a comedic drama of shipwrecks, mistaken identity, love triangles and lots of revelry.

The play started strong, with the whole auditorium was plunged into darkness as ocean waves played loud, the screams of shipwrecked passengers breaking through the darkness. 

As the curtains rose, their interpretation then began leaning into comedy and heavy theatricality. A strong point of their version was the cohesive set design and interesting choice of modern costumes as well as their efficient usage of props.

Though the lines were a little hard to catch, they made up for it with their enthusiasm particularly in the musical and dance numbers towards the end.

Up next was Logos College with a more tragic take of the same play, the tension, and mistrust between the characters evident. They utilized their minimal set well and with full use of their props, making the conversations flow naturally. The costumes were more Victorian, especially that of Olivia in her lavish mourning dress and heavy veil. 

With her imposingly haughty yet soft-spoken manner, Olivia was the standout character as the play revolved around her quite literally. She sat unmoving on an antique couch being approached by multiple characters as the play went on — a tableau that felt similar to ‘The Godfather’ or a mob head, especially with Malvolio as her stoic right-hand man.

The standout moment of the play was when the audience watched Viola’s struggle between her feelings for the Duke and her loyalty to him as Cesario. Watching Olivia melt under Cesario’s charms felt like a secret between Olivia and the audience, which was a credit to the performance as a whole.

Musaeus College stole the show with their rendition of Twelfth Night. With dramatic music and introduction of the cast filled with heavy gazes, a sense of foreboding opened the scene which was broken by Duke Orsino’s loud proclamation of ‘If music be the food of love, play on.’

Each cast member put in their all and everything as they delivered strong consistent performances throughout. From Viola’s expressive face, Malvolio’s humourous monologue, the Duke’s passion for Olivia, to Olivia’s boldness. Even secondary characters such as Feste, Sir Toby and Maria tied together to deliver a well-acted out play.

Cesario stole the show with her exuberance as she worked to convince Olivia of the Duke’s love, while her longing for him as Viola added an element of deep emotion and tragedy. In contrast to this, Malvolio’s monologue had the audience roaring with laughter in a brief reprieve from the tension of the love triangle. 

They ended as they started, standing on stage looking longingly at their respective loves with the comedic addition of Malvolio at the end.

An interesting element was their use of an ensemble cast in white masks and backdrop, which added a foreboding and dramatic flair to the scenes coupled with a musical number which soundtracked the conflicting longing on stage. 

St. Bridget’s Convent was up next also performing Twelfth Night, their performances backed by an elaborate moving set and period costumes.

Their interpretation relied heavily on expressive comedy and boisterous physicality, with plenty of slapstick and bawdy innuendo (perhaps as Shakespeare intended). 

Cesario was the strongest character, delivering her lines clearly and giving it meaning with her intonation, expressions and body movements. 

Aside from the many stagings of Twelfth Night, Vidura College Hokandara, Rotary International School, Devi Balika Vidyala, Saiva Mangaiyar Vidyalayam and Sacred Heart put in all their efforts into their excerpts of Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado About Nothing.

Saiva Mangaiyar Vidyalayam, in particular, made the innovative decision to utilize ethnic attire in their version of Much Ado About Nothing, showing that creativity knows no bounds in theatre.

Sacred Heart Galle








Devi Balika Vidyalaya











Logos College











Musaeus College











Vidura College Hokandera










St. Bridget's Convent











Saiva Mangaiyar Vidyalam










Ave Maria Negombo



























Visakha Vidyalaya


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