ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 45

Modern Sinhabahu to roar at Namel Malini Punchi Theatre

The Namel Malini Punchi Theatre that has been bringing quality English and Sinhala productions to Colombo audiences will feature a reputed artist each month. The first was held on March 31, with Ivor Dennis singing Sunil Shantha’s songs to an appreciative audience.

A student of Sunil Shantha, Ivor in his renditions brought the same nuances as his late guru, delighting the audience with his performance. That Namel and Malini are able to honour the country’s great musicians in this manner is commendable. Notably, Namel also conducts theatre workshops between productions and participants have found the sessions exceedingly beneficial, gaining rich insights into acting and also the themes they explore.

The last workshop dealt with torture, its causes, its effects on individuals and their families and the need to prevent it. After their recent productions of Norwegian playwright Ibsen’s plays in Sinhala, plans are in the pipeline to direct the English version of Prof. Ediriweera Sarachchandra’s Sinhabahu. Translated and adapted to the current Sri Lankan situation, the production is expected to be staged in the next few months.

Music for the well-known legend/myth on which Sri Lanka’s history is based, has been composed by veteran composer Haig Karunaratne. “I simply sat in front of the tape recorder and sang the whole script in one go,” says Mr. Karunaratne. The recording has now been documented by Darshi Perera who is currently working on the orchestral arrangements. The operatic piece comprises songs and chants and although unique compared to Mr. Karunaratne’s normal compositions, it has a definite Asian flavour. Having refused to do it earlier, he feels he was strangely inspired with the tunes which he thinks were playing on his subconscious all along.

The award-winning composer who has contributed to both English and Sinhala theatre considers Sinhabahu as one of the six best plays ever written after Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Sophocles’ Oedipus. “Translated into English it can be performed in any part of the world,” says Mr. Karunaratne. He thinks that the theme would have universal appeal, for both young and old. “It is a great play about conflicts between generations and the quest for new experiences, and the need to break away from the conventional claustrophobic protectiveness of adults,” he adds. (EW)

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.