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3rd January 1999

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Kala corner by Dee Cee

All vying for next year's drama festival

Seventeen new Sinhala plays are being staged in the last ten days of the year. They are all vying to qualify for next year's State Drama Festival. It has created a problem for the Sinhala Drama Panel to find judges to view them.

Imagine when four plays are staged on the same day at four different venues at the same time. It's no easy task to find judges to see them particularly during this holiday season. The energetic Panel Chairman E. M.G. Edirisinghe has been pleading with his panel of judges (only 12 have agreed to serve as judges) to make themselves available.

This rush is obviously to beat the deadline for the annual drama competition. Dramas presented between January 1 and December 31 are eligible to enter. But judges see them only on invitation. Some do not enter the competition.

According to Mr. Edirisinghe, the response this year had not been as good as last year. While the Panel got 51 invitations last year, this year there were only about 30.

While there were a number of dramas being staged in the outstations last year, it was different this year. Except for three plays, the rest were in Colombo. And in just four theatres-Lumbini, John de Silva, YMBA and Lionel Wendt. 

There were lots of young producers in the scene this year, some of them presenting their firsts. A couple of veterans were there too.

Somalatha returns to give an unforgettable performance 

Somalatha Subasinghe as Sarah in Gunasena Galappatti's Mudu Puttu, the tragic tale of the 'Sons of the Sea' was one of those unforgettable performances on the Sinhala stage.

Mudu Puttu was a daring theme and Somalatha's was a powerful portrayal of a young married woman longing to have a child. That was in 1962. When Galappatti revived the play six years later, she was there to give life to that character again.

Thirty years later Somalatha plays Mother Courage in her own production. Although she has not been seen on stage, she has been contributing a lot by way of at least six or seven productions in the past two decades. Starting with Kathandara Dekak (1979), her production in 1982, Vikurti proved extremely popular with its tuition theme.

Yadam (1992) was an adaptation of a Kenyan drama, 'The Trial of Dedan Kimathi' and she presented Socrates 'Antigone' in 1994. A year later she produced the children's drama, Hima Kumari.

A good guide to get to know your child

Maria Montessori is synonymous with children's education. Her book 'What you should know about your child' has been translated by Leelananda Gamachchi.

The book describes how the child's physical, mental, social and educational development takes place and is a useful guide particularly for parents and pre-school teachers.

A Dayawansa Jayakody publication, the book is being launched on Tuesday.

Two eyesores

Peregrinating in the metropolis, as Ben Jonson would have liked to put it, I'm beginning to wonder if any aesthetic sense prevails in this city we call Kandy. Two things make my flesh crawl - one, a well-intentioned structure on the green road aisle outside the botanic gardens, and the other standing beside the Getambe grounds at the roundabout.

Let's take the first. As I said, most well-intentioned. Built like a mini-shrine. All done, I believe, to impress the Prince who never came. The panel on the left imparts, courtesy the Kandy Municipal Council, the blessings of the Sacred Tooth Relic. The panel on the right carries the KMC's welcome to the city and a thank you with the invitation to please come again. Under each panel is the legend, "House of Maliban" in Sinhala and English. Even the most culturally inspired centre panel is tagged "Maliban". Is this structure the "House of Maliban" as it proclaims to be! All right, so Maliban's feel that they should get as much advertising mileage as they can, but, really, isn't there a limit to the nonsense that goes on in the name of sponsoring bodies?

What is one to assume? That the KMC sends its greetings, blessings, thanks, from the House of Maliban! Assorted boards stuck around also remind that Maliban is the big biscuit here, and don't you ever forget it! Nothing about what Kandy really holds for so many. Not a word to proclaim that Kandy is a World Heritage City. Now isn't that a real claim to fame?

It's time the Municipality told these supportive companies to soft pedal, and considerably too. Yes, yes, we are happy that you have offered to do this and that, but we don't wish to be your advertising agents, thank you. And why the insistence? Or is it that nobody knows about Maliban in this city? And as for the tourist, he or she may get this vague idea that somewhere or other there's a House of Maliban and even think that this structure is just that. I wonder what he or she is going to say in a postcard to Arkansas:

"Dear Mo, 

Went to Kandy yesterday. They spell it with a K in these parts. Saw the House of Maliban as we crossed the bridge into the city. Still trying to figure it out. It's a little thing like those dolmens we saw in Lhasa. Anyway this Maliban seems to be a nice enough fellow. Windows stuck with signs saying welcome and come again. Seems to have a good gardener too. Love Mike".

Eyesore number two is the statue of the soldier who stands, rifle at 'order arms', right hand raised, fist clenched, while over the pentagonal canopy a dove of peace stretches its wings. A dove and a clenched fist simply don't go together, do they! The problem is that the soldier does not look too good either. That upraised arm is in total disproportion. Also, he seems to have lost some of his right shoulder and that makes him...hmm...inspiring? I've been thinking, if he were to drop that arm, the clenched fist will be alongside his knee, and how come the bottom of the arm seems to begin from the region of the rib cage? Or are the tunics now issued extra baggy?

All in all, pretty ungainly. Saw some soldiers keeping the area around the statue clean and orderly. A memorial, to be sure, but how did the city get a statue that seems to defy human anatomy? Don't ask me. I try to ignore it as best I can.

Regional information system database

Two thousand one hundred and sixty-two Division Data Sheets of Grama Niladari Divisions in the Central Province have been forwarded to the Provincial Planning Unit, Kandy. The PPU says that this is up to 90% of total provincial data. The balance should come in by early next year the latest. The data so collected provides information of more than 100 parameters, even to the number of electrical and electronic appliances per household. All this will be encoded in a Regional Information System Data Bank. This is the most detailed survey ever conducted by the provincial planning authorities and, with the detailed information available, the PPU will prepare a series of geographical information system thematic maps which will be published in 1999. 

Enterprise days

The Central Province Enterprise Promotion Centre plans to hold a series of "Enterprise Days" at Divisional Level in 1999. This follows the success of the Kandy Enterprise Day which was organised in collaboration with five Sri Lanka-German Technical Co-operation Projects in the Central Province. 

The five GTZ Projects were the Rural Regional Development Project, Kandy; the Enterprise Information Project; the Rural Banking Innovations Project; the CEFE Project and the Vocational Training for Women and Youth Project.

The theme of this year's Enterprise Day was on the services available to entrepreneurs and employment seekers in the district. It attracted among others, over 250 young persons, even from Nuwara Eliya, while many school-leavers came in to discuss career plans and self-employment opportunities. Mr. Chandra Sahabandu, General Manager of the People's Bank addressed the gathering. 

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