longer a one man show
Anuradha Samarajiva talks to Delon Weerasinghe about
his venture of workshops for all those who love the stage
who’s watched a play can see that it’s a coordinated
effort; lighting, acting, and music come together to create a world
on stage. Behind this carefully-crafted illusion comes the analysis
of lines, the director’s instructions, and, in most cases,
some dead playwright’s words and acting directions. Shakespeare
may have written Romeo and Juliet, but the words in his script said
nothing about the dozens of different interpretations and versions
of the play existing today.
the problem when working with old and established plays, as many
Sri Lankan dramatists do, is that an essential element doesn’t
have a voice. That’s the writer; the person who actually dreamt
up the new characters and sweated over the perfect words for them
to say. He or she is just not an active participant in a modern
writer should be a supportive part of the process, rather than a
destructive one,” says Delon Weerasinghe, a playwright and
director. Destructive, because people don’t know “how
to use the knowledge of the playwright”, That’s why
Delon has initiated a series of workshops for scriptwriters and
actors, where he hopes to introduce a “system of working with
first session was for aspiring playwrights, the second which is
coming up on August 14, will focus on the actors, bringing in both
new and old faces. A third workshop planned for August 21 will bring
the two groups together to work on the newly created scripts.
focus of the workshop is to encourage novices to set their ideas
on paper, and to get familiarised with stage personalities. Even
though, Delon says, “everyone is so used to doing Shakespeare”,
the novice scriptwriters came out of their first workshop full of
new ideas, which they’re busy fashioning into actual plays.
themes they’ve brainstormed range from comedies to politics.
The ideas are new and innovative, but the authors have no time to
rest on their creative laurels. The aspiring writers aren’t
allowed to shove their scripts into the back of a drawer; they have
to expose it to the rest of the world, starting with the actors.
says the scriptwriters don’t know what works or sounds right
until they hear it coming out of an actor’s mouth. That collaboration
will take place at the third workshop, when the actors will try
out the finished scripts.
second workshop will be an introduction for actors. Delon has had
great response coming from hopeful actors, even as young as ten
years. During the session, they’ll go through different methods
of acting, like learning how to “action” a scene. Most
of all though, the experience will teach them about working with
according to Delon, even though “the director is the final
creator”, actors try to bypass his or her directions. But,
with these plays, “the writer is present to comment if that’s
not what he meant”. The programme is going to “give
them the tools to work with, plus a brand new play with a playwright
there”. With the creator present in person, actors can learn
“how to take advantage of a living writer”, making it
easier to interpret and play their parts.
play is always an interpretive work, but in these original dramas,
the interpretation will be a combination of ideas the actor’s,
the scriptwriter’s, and the director’s. Delon wants
to create such a system with his scriptwriting and acting workshops.This
new approach will offer theatregoers the prospect of more interesting
and innovative theatre in Sri Lanka. The actor’s workshop
will be held on Saturday, August 14, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Punchi
Theatre, Borella. The workshop is open for anyone.