Has anybody seen Chuck? Sort of short sort of tall? Nobody has seen Chuck not in a while. The young cast of Ladies College tackles the many twists and turns of teenage life in their pursuit of the elusive “Chuck” as they take on Jonathon Dorf’s dramedy “Dear Chuck” this month. The play is a [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

Dealing with the twists of youth in ‘Dear Chuck’


Ladies College cast. Pic by Amila Gamage

Has anybody seen Chuck? Sort of short sort of tall? Nobody has seen Chuck not in a while. The young cast of Ladies College tackles the many twists and turns of teenage life in their pursuit of the elusive “Chuck” as they take on Jonathon Dorf’s dramedy “Dear Chuck” this month.

The play is a collection of 34 moments, dealing with issues that contemporary teenagers face. It is not a conventional play that follows a linear plotline and will more often than not leave  viewers perplexed. This well written dramedy that fuses the comical elements of drama with the severity of teenage social problems is a refreshing play that will have audiences hooked from the very first scene. The pace and pulse which resonates throughout the production coupled with the uncomfortable truths that will be dealt with culminates into a night of clarity and proficiency.

The show is produced and directed by three old girls Dinoo Wickramage, Dinukshi Fernando and Sarika Warusavitarana. In conversation with the trio it was evident that the enthusiasm and passion that was apparent in the production sparked from them.

Dinoo who has been a part of many critically acclaimed public productions such as the “Garage Show” and “Grease Yaka” said her love for theatre was fostered and sparked within the walls of her school. From a very young age she took part in many Ladies’ College productions both in English and Sinhala theatre. Notably she recalled her role in the Hunchback of Notre-Dame as one of her fondest early memories of theater. “Ladies’ College is a special place. Here we are encouraged to create pieces and come up with our own script,” said Dinoo.

Having utilized her capabilities in an acting capacity up to now she said it was overwhelming to have to direct for the first time. However, she said her core team was fantastic and her hard working cast made the job less stressful.  Dinukshi Fernando more affectionately known as ‘Dinky’ too found her love for theatre at school. After trying her hand at acting within school Dinky realized that her well placed organizational skills were more suited for a backstage role. Dinukshi has been a part of the production side of her theatrical pursuits since leaving school.


Sarika Warusavitarana the omnipresent face that assists in directing, artwork and all other visual aspects of the production much like her friends, fell in love with acting at school. She too has taken part in many school productions followed theatre after school and been apart of public productions.

Interestingly Dinoo, Dinukshi and Sarika were all part of the core group that founded the idea couch and are ardent theatre enthusiasts who advocate modern and relatable theatre. Being friends since their time in school, working together has come naturally to them. Taking on a rather different script for their first directorial endeavour were  optimistic and had a lot of faith in their cast to reflect the complex simplicity of this play.

While they admit that choice of play is indeed a risky choice as one of its kind had not been attempted at a school level, they wanted to expose the cast to a more contemporary style of play rather than the more familiar ones.

“It was indeed a different task for the more experienced girls who were used to seeing and being a part of a certain type of acting. Many came with ‘acting baggage’ of how to walk or make a gesture and we had to enable them to be free and embrace a more naturalistic style of acting. We encouraged them to be themselves rather than force something out of them,’’ said Dinoo when asked as to how the cast took to the play. It was apparent though that along the process the cast enjoyed the production making their own suggestions to help them understand and relate to their individual roles.

The cast of “Dear Chuck” comprises 77 girls and for some playing on stage will be a first. As the play is a collection of 34 moments each character has a specific role to play. One of the enjoyable aspects of the play is  there are no leads nor minor characters. Every role contributes to the entirety of the production making each gesture and syllable that much more important. Keeping with the tradition of sparking creativity the producers of the play let the cast create their own scene to best portray the message.

As this type of play is unfamiliar to the regular theatre goer, the themes and issues dealt with are universal and relatable to anyone, the directors say adding that there would be minimal use of elaborate props or flare with stagecraft primarily focus on acting and acting alone. “We asked the girls to have faith in the play,” said Dinoo elaborating that this play even though different is very contemporary and relatable. She said it is a rather enlightening experience which has everything one can expect from everyday life.


“Dear Chuck” is a play that will take you by surprise from the opening bell. From the rather unexpected entrances to the casual relaxed nature in dialogue audiences will be immersed into a performance that will tug at heart strings and leave them in fits of laughter. The minimalistic conversational language that allows the audience to follow the play easily coupled with the perfectly orchestrated choreography makes each scene stand out in its own right. The opening scene itself sets the tone for a pacey witty play that will deal with pressing issues that many have been through at some point in life.

From age discrimination and homosexuality to overzealous crushes and broken hearts this play will leave no stone unturned as it takes you one in pursuit of the elusive Chuck. The use of dance live music, singing, and local jargon makes the play rich in diversity and is a sort of a roller coaster of different emotions. The actors play each role brilliantly showing the sudden stark changes in humour and wit to sullen forlorn dreariness in the most easy transitions that make audiences question is  they too are part of the play.

“Dear Chuck” promises to take audience on a journey making one feel the joys and sorrows that any teenager will feel in the most effective engaging way. We all have our “Chucks” make sure to come and realise your own as Ladies’ College searches in earnest for “Dear Chuck ” on Nov. 26 -27.


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