11th June 2000
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Kala korner - By Dee Cee
Young dramatist impresses
A young dramatist showing a lot of promise has turned a simple Indian folk story into a beautiful drama providing a fine evening's entertainment. The young man is Thumindu Dodamtenna. The play is titled 'Arundathie'. It has already grabbed nine awards (including ones for Best Script & Best Production) at last year's Youth Drama Festival and is among the final six at this year's State Drama Festival.

'Arundathie' is an original play based on an Indian folk theme woven round the caste issue. "I was inspired by a book written by my father and wrote the script based on it," Thumindu says. 'Sannishad' is the title of the book. 

Thumindu's clever presentation of the story makes it an interesting drama. His cast does a superb job. They all looked first-timers doing a fine job. None of the better known faces were there. Watching their performances, it wasn't surprising that three of them had won the top awards at the Youth Festival - Jayanath Bandara and Gayani Liyanarachchi (Best Actor and Best Actress) and Hashinika Karalliyadde (Best Supporting Actress). Dharmapriya Dias playing the role of a crafty Brahmin deserved the Best Supporting Actor's award. 

Then there was the chorus who also doubled up as a dance troupe. They were full of life, their singing was good. Tarupati Munasinghe's music score was delightful. (He too had bagged the award for the Best Music score). The other awards had been won by Sumedha Hewavitarana (make-up), Prasannajith Abeysuriya (costumes) and Vasantha Kumara (lighting).

'Arundathie' shows there is tremendous talent among the youth when it comes to the performing arts. They have a lot of imagination, plenty of ideas and above all, they know what to present as clean entertainment. Amidst the trash that's dished out in the name of drama, it is a consolation to see that there are yet others who are capable of presenting something really absorbing.

'Sugar' departs
He lived a simple life. He died a simple man. He went on his last journey in the most simple manner - just the way he wanted. Educationist and drama enthusiast H. D. Sugathapala had laid down how he should go on that journey. The body to lie in the Raymond's funeral parlour. No flowers. No flags. No obituary notices. A simple funeral and the ashes to be thrown into the Katugastota river flowing behind his 'maha gedera'. 

This column paid him a tribute when he reached 90 last February. His service to Sinhala theatre was highlighted.We called him a stalwart of the sixties. He had rendered a great service as Chairman of the Sinhala Drama Panel. He improved the Lumbini Theatre, opened the doors of Royal Junior (where he was Principal) for dramatists to rehearse, built the Navarangahala, streamlined the State Drama Festival, fought for the rights of dramatists - in short, worked hard to bring the Sinhala theatre to the position it is today.

He led a quiet life after his retirement. In recent years, he enjoyed serving on the panel of judges selecting the best entries at the annual Eagle safety poster competition. Two years ago, at the end of the judging he said, "Lamo (the endearing term he always used), don't bother me hereafter. I am too weak to be going up and down." We enjoyed his company. We listened to his interesting tales and we admired his clear judgement.

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