An evening of traditional puppetry for city folk

Puppetry, the one- time popular form of folk art in Sri Lanka is not much heard of these days. With great difficulty a few artistes in Ambalangoda are trying to keep this art form alive. Among them is Gambari Premin who has mastered the skills of puppetry coming down several generations.

Premin, in turn is lucky to have been noticed by an enthusiastic lover of art in the Royal College Union who had attended one of his performances. The Union has come forward to give an impetus to the talented artiste.

It will indeed be a rare opportunity for Colombo folk to witness this highly entertaining form of art at a show to be held at the Navarangahala in Rajakeeya Mawatha on Friday, October 7. There will be two shows – one at 3 p.m. for schoolchildren and the other at 6 p.m.

On his part, Premin has lined up an interesting programme for the evening. Following tradition, the 'Sabe vidane' – the village headman will be the first to appear on stage to introduce the art of puppetry.

Dancing of numerous forms is an integral part of a puppet show. Premin has lined up nine dances starting with a Pooja dance where a dancing girl will bless the audience. A new form of dance called 'Boru-pa' has been introduced where the puppet character will dance like a stilt-walker in a 'perahera'. The 'Konangi' is a joker's dance from the ' Bahubootha kolama' and is essentially a funny item intended to keep the audience amused. It will be particularly liked by the children.

A child doing 'pinum' -looping and juggling, will be followed by a 'kavadi' dance, another new item, which is a homage to God Kataragama. The monkey dance and the skeleton dance are intended to raise laughter. So is the 'Gaba saha Vidane' where two village characters will engage in a comic episode. Two low country dances – 'Ginikeli raksha' and the fire dance – the latter a skit from the 'Sanni yakuma' – complete the array of dance items.

The famous Kalagola story based on a Jathaka tale related in the Ummagga Jathaka will be staged as the principal drama of the performance. Premin leads a team of ten who will pay a not so frequent visit to Colombo to entertain the city folk.

Tickets for both shows are available at the Royal Skills Centre in Rajakeeya Mawatha, Colombo 7.
For details telephone 5521491.

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