The dark and the lighter shades of theatre

Mirror Magazine sits down with Dark Light Productions – a theatre group keen to foster a platform for young talent to take the stage

The brainchild of Wasaam Ismail, Dark Light Productions is an English stage theatre company that was founded with the purpose of entertaining theater goers of Sri Lanka while creating a platform for those who are passionate about stage theatre. Established in August this year the company comprises of a group of committed youngsters determined to make things happen.

The team includes Producer Javin Thomas, Artistic Director Wasaam Ismail, Publicity Manager Asanka Sahabandu, Administrative Manager Ornella Gunesekere and Costume designer Minelli Abeyadeera.

“Dark Light Productions was an initiative of mine” explains Wasaam. This was something I wanted to do from the time I was in school, and it is also something I’ve been discussing with Javin for a long time. Javin and I both got into theatre together almost at the same time 9 years ago, in which time I’ve had the opportunity to act as well as be involved in productions behind the scenes for most of Sri Lanka’s prominent directors.

I have also been directing plays on a smaller scale for the last 5 years, and I thought the time has come to look at a bigger picture. Staging a play is a lot of work; hence I got together a passionately reliable bunch of people to handle different key areas that needed to be taken care of”.

Javin with his years of experience working with renowned directors and actors specializes in production, stage management, lighting and set design while Wasaam overlooks the artistic and directing aspects of the venture. Dark Light Productions works on many themes and does not concentrate on a single category. The scope lies between the two extremes of Dark Theatre and Comedy. The Dark symbolizes grave or solemn plays and the Light signifies Comical Theater full of humor and levity.

“It is a mix between the two that add color to all other genres, hence we arrived with the name Dark Light Productions” adds Wasaam.

While discussing stage theatre in Sri Lanka the team talked about the limitations of a solid drama and theatre community and of the lack of opportunities for up and coming stage actors. “We have a very niche community that appreciates English stage theatre, and that too mostly in Colombo. For this very reason, we don’t have professional theatre careers or theatre companies in Sri Lanka, or shows running for months like we see abroad.

Anyone who is involved does it purely as a hobby or [for] the passion only. Sometime people who stage plays find it really hard to have a full house. This goes to show that the numbers that are interested are low.

The biggest appeal when it comes to plays are doing comedies, hence it is a risk to do other genres. DLP will be taking this risk by staging a very serious play as its premier performance, and this play will cater to only those who are passionate about English stage theatre”.

Dark Light Productions unlike other theatre groups is non profit focused and believes that what matters is the experience of enjoying theatre. Sri Lanka has only a few amateur theatre companies (we don’t have professional companies) which means the opportunity for people to act or enjoy a pleasant evening at a play does not happen as frequently as we would like,” says the Artistic Director.

Wasaam also pointed out that youth involvement in theatre stressing that the schools that support drama and theatre play a huge role in the future of good actors. ”Thanks to interschool competitions such as shakes, kids have an opportunity be involved in theatre and experience what it is like. However, having directed schools for the last five years I have realized that though the talent exists, the interest to peruse the field is less. Finding good English actors in Sri Lanka is not easy. And the best of them around are those who have had good theatre backing from school.”

Dark Light Productions will be staging its first performance in November. The play titled “What If” is written and directed by Wasaam Ismail and produced by Javin Thomas. The play is to be staged from the November 25- 27 at the Punchi Theatre.

People can follow dark light productions on twitter to find out the latest English stage theatre news or visit www.darklight-productions.com to view their live twitter feed.

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