TV Times

Somalatha back with a Festival of Theatre
By Susitha R. Fernando
Somalatha Subasinghe Theatre Festival in Colombo from August 6 to 8 at the Elphinstone theatre would be family entertainment in its fullest sense. Lanka Children’s and Youth Theatre Organisation (Play House in Kotte) is back again with the annual Festival of Theatre for young for the fifth time. “ Humaneness, Love and Care” is the theme that is emphasized at this year’s festival of the Play House headed by Mrs. Subasinghe, veteran playwright, theatre director and actress.

Speaking to TV Times Mrs. Subasinghe said “It is a good opportunity for children to relax and enjoy with the family after going through heavy academic programmes in school”. When quality and meaningful entertainment for the Lankan youth audience is such a rarity, it is a treat when Play House brings out the Festival of plays tailor-made particularly for the young.

The Festival plays are “Punchi Apata Then Therei” (“We Know it Now”), “Toppi Velenda” (“The Hat Seller”), “Himakumariya” (“Snow White and Seven Dwarfs”) and “Walas Pawula” (“Three Bears and Goldilocks”). These plays based on folk and fairy tales are specifically adapted for children to enrich their creativity.

“Theatre for children is also a very important mode of developing children’s ethics, their morals, and of providing them with knowledge. Through dramatic incidents the children formulate meanings of their own,” Somalatha said.

Consequently, all productions for children presented by Play House are carefully crafted to develop and expand the world-view from the child’s perspective. Besides, aesthetic quality of Children’s Theatre enhances the sense of imagination and creativity in the child. All plays in the festival are musicals with songs, dances based on Sri Lankan folk culture, acrobatics and humour.

“Through these aspects the artistes communicate with children to inculcate in them a strong sense of pride in our traditional art forms and culture. Original stories are adapted to theatrical medium in such a way that emphasise the significance of universal themes like humaneness, love, caring for people and nature” Somalatha said explaining the main objectives of her dramas.

One other aim of the plays is encouraging children to resolve problems through peaceful means. Mrs. Subasinghe and her Play House group believe their ultimate goal is to bring up a self-confident, dignified and compassionate younger generation.

The ethics of Children’s Theatre stipulate that theatre for young should not be exclusive. Thus, despite the ever-increasing cost of production and publicity the prices of tickets need to be kept low.

Accordingly, the Play House aims to reach a wider audience through low prices tickets while providing the audience with high quality theatre experience. However, speaking about the lack of support she said “In developed countries either the state or independent agencies contribute to the development of the Children’s Theatre. Unfortunately in Sri Lanka such assistance is hard to come.

However, Lanka Children’s and Youth Theatre Organisation (LCYTO) is very grateful to all the private and public sector establishments which have offered support so far. LCYTO expressed its special appreciation to Ceylon Biscuits Ltd., the manufacturers of ‘Munchee’ and Ceylon Cold Stores Ltd. (Elephant House) who have generously volunteered sponsorship for this festival. Ceylon Biscuits Ltd. will hold its Munchee scholarship awards ceremony for primary school students in conjunction with the last day of the festival.

There are two performances daily at 3.30 pm and 6.30pm and the schedule of the festival is; August 6 -”Punchi Apata Then Therei” and “Toppi Velenda”, August 7-”Himakumariya” and August 8-”Walas Pawula”.


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