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29th November 1998

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Kala Corner

* Fifty, not out!
*It's 'Aesop' this time

Fifty, not out!

To be active in the media scene for 50 long years is indeed a rare achievement. Veteran journalist D F Kariyakarawana ('Kari' to his friends) has reached that milestone. He is being felicitated next Tuesday at a dual ceremony. One is the completion of half a century in the media world and the other is the launch of a book written by him titled Dasaka Sathaka Mathaka (Remembering Seven Decades).

Having worked together in the Dinamina, my impression of Kari was of a superb 'sub' (short for 'sub-editor' in journalistic parlance) who had a fine news sense, the ability to pick on the right words for a headline and create an attractive layout. As Chief Sub of the Dinamina in the fifties, he made his mark in giving a new look to the newspaper which was facing severe competition from the Lankadipa. (He moved over from the Times group having been in the first batch of journalists who worked on the Lankadipa). Later, he was editor of several Lake House publications including the Janatha, Yovun Janatha, Silumina and Kreeda.

Many may not know his contribution towards the resurgence of Sinhala music. In the mid - forties when Sinhala music was being given a new look, 'Mihira', a magazine he had started, carried the words (with their notations) of Sunil Shantha's popular songs like 'Olu Pipila' and 'Handapane'.

As the live wire behind the Press Association for the past four decades, he took the initiative in planning several programmes for the welfare of journalists. The workshops he organised and his involvement in getting the Colombo University to conduct a diploma course in journalism have helped to create a breed of professional journalists.

As a much travelled man, he has written several books on his impressions of foreign travels. Among them are Avidda Paya, Britani Elidarauwa, German Jayagrahanaya and Ratin Rata. Another - Rata Giya Aththek (a novel) is in print along with its translation 'The Man Abroad'.

He also intends publishing his lectures at the Diploma Course in book form. That will be a boon to upcoming journalists who find a dearth of reading matter on the subject in Sinhala.

Well-wishers will wish Kari many more years of active service in the media scene.

It's 'Aesop' this time

Mass Com don Sunanda Mahendra's love for the theatre has made him launch what he calls "the first teaching and learning theatre project." He has selected the life story and creations of the traditional Greek author of animal fables, Aesop for the project and calls it 'Aesop'.

Sunanda who writes and directs the play says it's based on the open theatre tradition. The project is being done by the Department of Mass Communications in the University of Kelaniya (where he is head) in collaboration with the National Youth Service Council.

No stranger to Sinhala theatre, Sunanda prefers to try his hand either at translations or adaptations. He has had a special liking in handling Norwegian playwright and poet Henrick Ibsen's plays. Starting with Geheniyak (1965), a translation of 'Hedda Gabler', he wrote and produced his second play in the same year, Sayuren A Landa, also an Ibsen play - 'Lady by the Sea'. The third Ibsen play was Jana Hatura (1975) based on 'A Public Enemy'. He tried his hand in an experimental play based on the life and works of Anton Chekhov called ' Chekhov Sandyawa'. His award winning play Socrates (1990) was based on the life and philosophy of Socrates.

There was energy and there was fun

By Arun Dias Bandaranaike

Review of Shakespeare's Henry, performed by the Watermill Theatre Company from Britain, under the auspices of the British Council Colombo on November 13, 14 at the Lionel Wendt Theatre.

The intrigues of the Plantagenet court and its belligerence against France were the essence that drove William Shakespeare's dramatic plots in much the same way that Vietnam and JFK inspired Oliver Stone.

The difference ( for a Sri Lankan audience and indeed, most others) is its remoteness from historic relevance. The Watermill Theatre company, directed by the remarkably fertile imagination of Edward Hall, sought to 'fill the breach' with an amazing histrionic fervor that captured a breathless audience within a twisting, heaving,whirling, kaleidoscope of sound, light and sensation caught at the business end of High Octane Turbo Propulsion.

The text of Shakespeare was subtly ( and not so subtly, at times) mixed with 'great moments in European Soccer',Parisian burlesque and footage purloined from IRA encampments!! The overall effect bore fruit, in that the audience was able to grapple with the 'reality' of the play's context and was also treated to what is called 'participatory' theatre - what with the whole audience being uprooted from their chairs and transported to 'France', which in this case was the garden of the adjacent Women's International Club (much to the chagrin of its demure membership, I am informed!!!). It was huge fun, especially with interesting lighting and effects created out in the open night- air, with dimly discernible figures in fatigues crawling about the rooftops, achieving ( or aspiring to) heightened dramatic realism.

Obviously, this treatment was not everyone's 'cup of tea'. The sheer athleticism of the players left many cold and uninitiated to follow through the 'works'. But be that as it may, the 'tradition' that Edward Hall had drawn upon is a factor that bespeaks skill. Surely, this was the way it was in the days of the Globe, and in Stratford-on -Avon! The boys always portrayed females. Entertainment was the intent, the plot was the excuse, and amusement was the preserve of both the literate and illiterate. Of course the camouflage fatigues, the Constable's Computer, the SIPA cameraman , and the toy guns were the aspects of modernity ; yet withal, there was an element that was lost - 'emotion' perhaps. Akin not to Verdi or Vivaldi, but more like Beethoven's last quartets. The flavour depended on what the individual members of the audience were able to personally taste. Which, (certainly) in no way dulls the validity of the exercise. But time could have been better conserved, and the declamations ( especially Prince Hal's ) edited if need be, to prevent the action from being sucked into a lugubrious vortex.

I reckon nobody would have been left unimpressed by the actors multiple portrayals in dizzying perspectives that changed with deft lighting shifts and beguiling set movements with a minimum of property. The accomplished players themselves were the instrumentalists that carried the 'soundtrack' which, to this reviewer, was unlike any seen or heard before. Here was teamwork, versatility and professionalism that hopefully would prove inspirational. Indoors and out, every word was heard!

She paints with a sense of wonder and freshness

Saumya Jayasekera is a young lawyer, but she loves painting in water colour wash, pastels and oils on canvas.

Saumya learnt her art from well-known art teacher Lathifa Ismail. Saumya says Lathifa was able to guide her pupils without trying to influence them with her style of drawing and painting.

In September 1975 Saumya at 13, held her first exhibition of paintings at the Lionel Wendt and then again in October 1978.

Despite her professional studies to be a lawyer, her love for painting did not lag behind.

Saumya's paintings are exhilarating and express a kind of uncluttered symphony of blending colours bringing out nature's beauty. To Saumya the world has not lost its freshness and wonder.

Take her oil paintings on canvas. A light pink sky highlights a glacier - an ice block, with wild red flowers in the foreground, a picture she captured while in America.

Her Ehela trees at Giritalawa around the lake spell a kind or serenity as do the lonely Horton Plains. A placid peacefulness is reflected in Aurora which is the smooth sea at the breakwaters.

Her paintings dealing with people are charged with magic. Three Thai children are caught adroitly with startled expressions on their little faces. Another painting she did in Bangkok depicts a Thai mother and child, with the mother wearing a jaunty turban. Saumya is not a formalist whose paintings are governed by rules and traditions which often cramp the style of an artist.

The guest artist at this show is her nine-year-old daughter also a painter.

The exhibition is scheduled to be held on December 4, 5 and 6 at the Lionel Wendt Art Gallery from 9 a.m. to 7.30 p.m.

Melville Assauw will declare open the exhibition on the 4th at 6.30 p.m. RP

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