ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday March 2, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 40

Thrashing it out with Forum Theatre

By Madhushala Senaratne

Rarely do people have a chance to voice their opinion in public on burning issues such as the ethnic conflict. Or if they do, it is not often that their voices are heard. Stages Theatre Group gives you the chance to present your ideas on resolving two serious issues confronting Sri Lankan society or listening to others and watching the consequences of your suggestions (actions) unfold before your eyes at Forum Theatre this March.

Forum Theatre begins with the performance of a rehearsed scene which ends with a problem or crisis. “We would then turn to the audience and give them the chance to solve the problem,” says director Ruwanthie de Chickera. Forum Theatre will present two stories to the audience – one which centres on the ethnic conflict in the country, and the other on domestic violence.

“The story on the ethnic conflict is based on the strains of the conflict on Sinhala – Tamil relations. It’s about how day to day inter-communal relationships are being affected,” she says, adding that people are increasingly reluctant to address this issue.
On domestic violence, Ruwanthie says Forum Theatre would focus on a specific kind of violence that is often ignored and shunned by society. “We would address the issue of marital rape. There is very little knowledge about this and we are trying to bring this out into the open,” she added.

The Stages Theatre Group introduced Colombo audiences to the concept of Forum Theatre in 2001, when it ran as part of their bigger production ‘Checkpoint’. The cast which includes Ruhanie Perera, Gihan de Chickera, Niran Anketell, Izara Zubair and Dilan Perera would be performing based on audience suggestions and as Ruwanthie explains such an impromptu performance is indeed a daunting task and takes a lot of practice, courage and confidence.

Forum Theatre goes on the boards from March 8 to 12 at the Punchi Theatre, with Domestic Violence being performed on March 8 and 10 and Ethnic Conflict being performed on March 9, 11, and 12.

Admission to the show is free. However, the public is advised to pick up passes in advance from Punchi Theatre as doors would be closed once the auditorium is filled to capacity. Only 250 can be admitted at one time.

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