on the fourth floor
The term 'Fourth floor' has been synonymous with torture and agony.
Mentioning the fourth floor sends shivers down people’s spines,
particularly if one is summoned there by the authorities for questioning.
When veteran dramatist Namel Weeramuni selected 'Hataraveni Tattuwa'
as the title of his new play - the first he has done in Sri Lanka
since 'Vansakkarayo' over three decades ago - it was obvious he
was going to touch on a theme, which portrayed persecution. As the
play progressed, it turned out to be more the antics of a conman,
superbly portrayed by a new actor, Rizvan Mohammad.
his return from overseas not so long ago, Namel and his wife Malini
have been busy building the Punchi Theatre which is fast becoming
a popular venue not only for plays but also other activities like
book launches. It is a cosy little place, quite comfortable with
the new air-conditioning working perfectly. It can house about 200
the work on the theatre was over, Namel turned his attention towards
training. A theatre workshop with the participation of a professional
from abroad brought together a band of keen young men and women.
Namel was also planning the new play on which he had been working
for some time.
was looking for a talented new player for the key role when he found
Rizvan. He preferred a newcomer to a seasoned player and though
he would have had a tough time training Rizvan, at the end he achieved
what he wanted. On top of his clever acting, Rizvan delivered his
lines well without depending on prompters. Intense sweating didn't
bother him - he just kept the audience entertained.
scripting 'Hataraveni Tattuwa' , Namel had been inspired by 'The
Inspector' and 'Accidental death of an anarchist'. However, he based
the story on his observations of a notable Sri Lankan who hit the
headlines in England for his notoriously ‘smart’ behaviour.
course, having been a keen observer of what has been going on in
Sri Lanka in recent years, he sharpened the script accordingly.
There is a full dose on corruption and abuse of power. In the use
of language, Namel tried out some new terminology with good effect
- some of them jaw-breaking words used intentionally to generate
humour and wit. It was overdone at times making it difficult to
grasp the first time.
cast had just six players plus a chorus. The two seasoned players,
Lucien Bulathsinhala and Daya Tennakoon, used their maturity in
their roles as protectors of the law. Newcomers Anoma Jinadasa,
Seneviratne Bandara and Chaya Nammuni too were impressive. The opening
sequence with the chorus moving in through the audience and beginning
a catchy tune set the tone for the evening.
tried out an eight-day run to set a new trend for Sinhala theatre.
Though not wholly successful, he is not disappointed. He is planning
a five-day run in September and expects a better response.
version of Marshall's 'Ceylon'
Thanks to Visidunu Publishers, Sinhala readers are regularly
fed the Sinhala versions of better known titles originally written
by Englishmen during the colonial era. These invariably describe
the country and its people and provide an insight into the sociological
aspects of the community.
latest Visidunu publication is 'Sinhale', a translation of Henry
Marshall's 'Ceylon - A General Description of the Island and its
Inhabitants' - a rather long title. The book was written in 1846.
Sinhala version is by Ellepola H. M. Somaratne, a trained teacher
who ended his career as a school principal and translated a number
of well known titles during his retirement. He passed away in 1974
and the current publication has been released to mark his birth
with Ananda Coomaraswamy's 'The Medieval Sinhalese Art', he has
translated John Doyly's 'A Sketch of the Constitution of the Kandyan
Kingdom', Major Thomas Skinner's 'Fifty Years in Ceylon' and Dr.
John Davy's 'Interior of Ceylon'. Awaiting publication is another
book - Coomaraswamy's 'Arts and Crafts of India and Ceylon'.
In the wake of its informal exhibition in Colombo, Studio
Times is busy planning a month’s Rajarata heritage exhibition
in Anuradhapura from August 8. The venue is the Nuwarawewa Resthouse.
exhibition will provide an opportunity for art and nature lovers
to enjoy some classy photographs taken by professionals over the
past few decades. In addition to gems of history, there will be
wide coverage of the Wilpattu National Park and other nature spots.