|Saturday, 2 February 2002|
A notable feature behind the success of Sriyantha Mendis is that whatever character he plays on stage, television or cinema, it is acknowledged and appreciated by the vast majority of the people.
"Whatever I am given, I do my best to do justice to any role," Sriyantha, the winner of the Best Actor Award at the Sumathi Tele Awards 2001 says. "I always act in a relaxed mood. It may be one reason why viewers love the characters I portray."
Sriyantha has many popular stage and teledramas to his credit. He has won a number of best actor awards at the State Drama Festivals and many other festivals. "I never dreamed of being an actor," says Sriyantha who studied in the Science stream at De Mazenod College, Kandana and now serves as a science teacher at a Government school.
"Once I am given a character, I draw up my own demarcation and then do justice to it as far as I can. I never select characters. There is no black and white difference to me - I will play any role given to me."
Having started his acting life on the stage over two decades ago, Sriyantha has travelled a long distance, but still prefers the stage more than any other field. "I consider the stage as the "Maha Gedera" (family house). It helps to heal your grievances and makes you fresh."
True to his saying, Sriyantha introduces a new stage drama every year. "Today, there are no great stage plays like in the past. Some of today's dramas have become an instant thing. On the other hand, dramas centred on sex have invaded the stage without paying attention to our cultural values," he lamented.
Sriyantha stressed that there are many other problems faced by youth which could be discussed on the stage other than sex. "We should protect our identity and recognise our rhythm. Without doing so, our dramas cannot be improved."
Sriyantha made his debut on stage in 1978 when he acted in the comedy "Ane Ablik" produced after taking part in a drama workshop conducted by the German Professor Norbert Myer.
It was just the beginning. Thereafter, he was chosen for many dramas directed by veterans such as Symon Navagaththegama, Salaman Fonseka, Wimalaratna Adikari, Parakrama Niriella, Jayalath Manoratna and Jayantha Chandrasiri.
In 1988, Sriyantha won the best actor award for acting in "Mora" at the State Drama Festival.
He rose to the pinnacle of popularity with the 'Palingu Manike' teledrama where portrayed Surasena - a joyful character. "From that onwards, I was chosen for that type of character. It was Jayantha Chandrasiri who changed it," says Sriyantha.
Sriyantha has also maintained a presence on the silver screen. He starred in films such as Ayoma, Vimukthi, Sihina Desaya and Julietge Bhoomikava.
Now, Sriyantha is concentrating on a new work, an attempt to make a creation that blends our traditional identity with youthful ideas. "I am now preparing the groundwork for this."
'Sihala Wansala' makes a comeback
A new production of "Sihala Wansala", a Sinhala tragicomedy by veteran Douglas Siriwardena will go on the boards today and tomorrow at the Lumbini Theatre.
This drama focuses on a graduate who is in a depressed state in a society dominated by political, social and economic factors. "The drama projects the existing situation in society where people cheat each other and engage in so many other unethical activities. It reflects a cross section of the present society," Douglas says.
First produced in 1996, the staging of this drama had to be stopped after some time, due to various unavoidable circumstances. "There were several reasons. The busy schedule of some of the actors was one of them."
The cast of the new production has been selected from the participants of a drama workshop conducted at the National Youth Services Council, whose Course Director was Douglas. "I am satisfied with the skills of these newcomers."
"This is almost a new drama although the script is the same. All other aspects have been changed," Douglas explains.
Music is by Mahanama Wickremasinghe while stage settings are by Upali Karunaratne. The cast includes Mihiri Sirithilaka, Ranjan Suriyakumara, Manjula Jayamal, Athula Jayasinghe, Ravindra Edirisinghe, Sherly Samarasinghe, Neranjan Chandradithya and Samitha Dilrukshi.
Produced by Lake House