Mirror Magazine
9th April 2000
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Young wielders of the pen

By Laila Nasry
Andy sat before the group, while they played a game of a different kind. They were putting pen to paper, visualising him as an object that was awaiting description during a stipulated time. At the end of the seven minutes the different versions of each member impressed me and made the group also double up with laughter.

It struck me how talented they seemed to be - creative geniuses with minds of their own. Sharing one thing in common...a passion for writing.

These shiny-eyed youngsters call themselves the Young Writers' Association (YWA) and meet on the last Wednesday of each month at the Barefoot Gallery. Sitting cross-legged on the floor; they read their original 'pieces' written during the month, aloud to each other. They do not adhere to specific, profound themes, but just write on anything and everything, whatever bugs them, whatever makes them happy.

What is refreshing is that each poem, piece of prose or short story is unique, seen through different eyes, heard through different ears, evoking different emot-ions...masterpieces in their own right. 

Then an enthusiastic discussion takes place, why it was written, what it hopes to portray, its themes etc. and the YWA becomes a wonderful forum for bettering ones writing ability and developing style. It's a fun way to learn.

The YWA does not stop at monthly meetings but include residential workshops too, at which the young writers have discussions with established writers and columnists and exchange ideas Such a workshop has been organised for April 21, 22 and 23. at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute.

Editors' workshops, which have been organised for an executive group is another feature of the YWA. The result is the publication of an anthology with contributions by the members.

Whatever the workshop, loads of fun are guaranteed, with members recounting pranks with toothpaste tubes and gate-crashing into a colleague's house and being fed by good-natured parents. 

The initiative for such a group came in the '80s from Professor Ashley Halpe and Mrs. Nirmali Hettiarachchi, but it was only in 1992 that the YWA was started. It has now grown from strength to strength with a similar group in Kandy.

Sandaruwan Madumabandara, a 'senior' among the young writers recalls the early days when they got to know each other by attending workshops organised by Prof. Halpe. "I was 16 when the association started. We share so much common ground. We assert our own direction and make our own decisions. In a way it has led to our personal growth."

'Show off' they did

By Passanna Gunasekera
A young performer blurts out his full name superfluously. Another acknowledges his loved ones in the audience with a wave. A few completely out of line, while some others mesmerized by the applause decide to stay put on stage after taking the bow. A mishap here, a mishap there....

However, Samantha Abeyweera de Soyza, Principal of the Yolande School of Speech and Drama is jubilant. Her production 'Just showing off', which went on the boards last Sunday at the Wendt, had not been an "unfinished and unpolished" affair. At the end of the day it had intensified to a set of poems, choral speeches, excerpts from prose passages and an adaptation, 'The King who took the sunshine',which were tackled with professionalism. The props, lighting and stage were attended to by the senior students of the school.

They were no mature adults, not endowed with thespian skills, not drilled by months of practice but young girls and boys between 5 and 13. And act they did to their heart's content in perfect style. Crisp, distinct voices filled the air. Their facial expressions, gestures and movements creating a definite impact on the spectators. The young ones showed off while their proud parents watched fascinated. 

It took Samantha just two months to organise the production, concentrate on the acting, make them word perfect and put these youngsters on stage. These budding 'actors' and 'actresses' walked out of the theatre that night a confident lot. They had been given an opportunity to prove themselves.

Their final bow demonstrated that they had done so.

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