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20th June 1999

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Kala korner - by Dee Cee

Shanti from Raja Rata tells a winning tale of village life

Shanti DissanayakeFor the young mother of two, Shanti Dissanayake from distant Raja Rata, June 14 was an unforgettable day. She was overjoyed when her efforts at creative writing won recognition. She won the prestigious D. R. Wijewardene Memorial Award for the Best Sinhala Novel in manuscript form for 1998.

It was sheer hard work that got her to the top. As a student of the village school at Senapura, 20 miles away from Anuradhapura, she developed a liking for reading. Books were hard to come by. She read whatever was available at the village library. Soon she started writing herself and gained confidence to take part in competitions. Twice she won awards at the North Central Provincial arts competitions for creative writing in the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa districts. Shanti was keen to win recognition at national level. She also won an award at the Independent Literary Awards competition.

Then came the Wijewardene Award for her novel titled 'Vara Mal', a story revolving round the trials and tribulations faced by a village family. Being born and bred amidst many a hardship, it's a first hand account of the hard life in the village. The panel of judges was impressed not only by her style and presentation but also her interpretation of the inner feelings of the average villager.

Chairman of the panel, Jayasumana Dissanayaka, a stalwart in the field of art, commended the efforts of the Wijewardene Trust for continuing with the award for the past 15 years. Besides the financial award (the winner gets Rs 40,000) it is a great stimulus to writers. Expressing his gratitude on behalf of the reading public, he referred to the yeoman service rendered by the late D.R. Wijewardene to Sinhala language and literature. "He believed in preserving the system of traditional values. He played an active role in Sri Lanka's struggle for political, economic and cultural independence. In these circumstances, this is in fact an honour accorded to him," he stressed.

He had a word of praise for the other two eminent literary figures who served on the panel, G. S. B. Senanayake, Chairman of the Sinhala Literary Panel of the Arts Council and H. M. Moratuwagama, Senior Lecturer at the Sri Jayawardenapura University who participated in "the arduous task with utmost commitment".

Meet Lucy again

Trelicia Gunawardena, who left us just about two months ago made her mark on the small screen with her superb performance as Lucy Hamy in 'Giraya' , the first full length teledrama that Dr. Lester James Peries directed.

Readers can meet Lucy Hamy once again with CTC Eagle re-telecasting 'Giraya' every Tuesday, starting June 22 over ITN as a tribute to the great actress.

Lucy Hamy as Lal's (Peter Almeida as the Podi Hamu) ayah from his young days, is the domineering personality in the walauwa. A malevolent spinster, she is a sinister figure, harassing the servants and conniving with the Loku Hamu (Grace Ariyawimal) to illtreat even her own daughter Manel (Chandani Seneviratne). The fun really begins when Kamini (Vasanthi Chaturani) enters the walauwa as Lal's wife. Lucy Hamy's authority is symbolised by the 'giraya' she always carries with her.

'Giraya' is also the first teledrama based on an English novel. The original novel by Punyakante Wijenaike was adapted by the much-in-demand script writer Somawira Senanayake. K A Dharmasena's photography, Rohana Weerasinghe's music and Ravi Guruge's editing added to make 'Giraya' a cut above the rest of teledramas.

Festival time

It's drama festival time once again. An event eagerly looked forward to by theatre fans every year, the State Drama Festival opens on Tuesday at the John de Silva Theatre.

Six dramas (the best in 1998) will be staged. A feature of this year's festival is the absence of a single original play. All six selected for the final round are adaptations. They are:

June 22 - Rohan Samaradivakara's ' Acharyasheeli Dadayamak' ( based on Woody Allen's 'Death)

June 23 - E.M.D Upali's 'Eva Balava' ( an adaptation of J. B Priestley's 'An Inspector Calls')

June 24 - Buddhika Damayantha's 'Davasa Thama Gevune Ne' ( based on Murray Shichigal's 'The Typist')

June 25 - Priyantha Sirikumara's 'Maranaya Saha Kanyaviya' (Ariel Dorffman's 'Death & the Maiden')

June 26 - Athula Peiris' 'Maha Oedipus' (Sophocles' 'Oedipus'),

June 27 - Lalitha Sarachchandra's 'Ratnavali' (Harshadeva's 'Ratnavali'),

K B Herath's 'Deveni Mahinda' which swept the boards at last year's festival winning four key awards - Best Play, Best Director, Best Actor & Best Actress) will be staged on June 29.

A seminar to discuss the six plays has been planned for June 28.

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