Colombo theatre festival for young audiences – enticing the young audience at Sandeshaya Sri Lanka

By Randima Attygalle
Colombo Theatre Festival for Young Audiences, presented by the Lanka Children’s Youth Theatre Foundation (LCYTF) or popularly known as the Play House, Kotte will go on boards on December 5 and 6 at Lionel Wendt- enticing the young audience to witness the theatrical efforts of the contemporary dramatists.

Since its launch in 2005, marking the 25th anniversary of the Play House Kotte Colombo Theatre Festival for Young Audiences had proven to be a fertile platform of experimenting, expressing and enthralling the lovers of drama. This year’s festival will showcase eminent dramatist Somalatha Subasinghe’s much acclaimed production Vikurthi and young playwright Chamika Hathlahawaththa’a Hari Apuru Dawasak.
Colombo theatre festival for young audiences - enticing the young audience at Sandeshaya Sri   Lanka
Since its first production in 1982, Vikurthi had stood the test of time, its theme more timely in contemporary society than it ever was. “Vikurthi was borne out of experimental theatre and took summersaults, making it an eye opener to the young parent whose aspirations for the children are too high, which in turn oppress and penalise the child,” said Somalatha Subasinghe, Founder and Director, Play House, Kotte.

Senior artiste Kaushalya Fernando who played the role of the mother in Vikurthi in over 20 productions of the play, cited, “germinated in the mind of my mother (Somalatha Subasinghe) Colombo Theatre Festival for Young Audiences is a collective effort of the Play House, Kotte today, through which we attempt to showcase the potential of young artistes striving to address youth problems. Each year, we make this festival a platform for such budding artistes to showcase their talents and for the audience to be inspired by contemporary artistes.”

The eye of an artiste sees the injustice of the world as much as he/she sees the beauty around him/her. Art is not just entertainment, it’s dais for creating public opinion, a means of influencing the thinking of people. The beauty of stage is its ability to project injustice, the pathos, trials and tribulations of the world through an artistic eye. This is essentially what the Colombo Theatre Festival for Young Audiences promotes. “We are a nation of passionate and communicative people. There is always an urge among the youth to express themselves aesthetically and stage is one such effective tool of art to exploit in this regard. I have been quite impressed with several recent theatre productions of young artistes. They show tremendous potential and come out through their own perspectives of life. Therefore, they should be provided with every opportunity of enhancing their talent and this is what we attempt to do through the Colombo Theatre Festival for Young Audiences,” elaborated Ms. Subasinghe.

Giving an insight into Hari Apuru Dawasak, which drew its inspiration from A Wonderful Sunday, a film by Akira Kurasawa, the playwright and director Chamika said, “this is a tale of two lovers who attempt to spend a Sunday with just Rs. 171.50. Although the plot appears quite simple, through subtle humour, the socio-economic crisis which oppresses the youth is narrated through the drama.” Recipient of seven awards including the Best Drama award at the National Drama Festival in 2008, Hari Apuru Dawasak represented Sri Lanka at the Cairo International Research Drama Festival this year. Exhibiting the talents of several promising young artistes, the plot of the drama unfolds in several locations within the course of a single day. According to Chamika, an undergraduate of theatre studies at University of Kelaniya, his production is inspired by the classical and contemporary drama modes- rich sources of inspiration for him.

Elaborating on the challenges encountered by an endeavour of this nature, Dr. Chandana Aluthge Co-ordinator of the project said, “this is a forum which promotes promising artistes but unfortunately due to the dearth of sponsors we find it a challenging endeavour. We are grateful to HNB Assurance Ltd to have come forward with their generosity in sponsoring this year’s festival. If there are similar forums willing to assist, we will be on a better footing to accommodate several more dramas in one festival and even to tour around the country with it which at present is confined to Colombo.”

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