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A Little Theatre for big ideas



Namel Weeramuni

" Punchi Theatre " (Little Theatre) is the latest concept to hit the local stage. A little theatre, low-cost productions and faithful patrons are the main components of the concept.

"This will create a low cost play production scheme and promote a regular theatre audience through a membership drive," says veteran artist Namel Weeramuni, founder member of the Namel and Malini Art Circle, which is heading this project.

"This will foster and promote creative works by way of play writing, productions and performances throughout the year on a professional basis," added Namel.

The theatre will have just 100 seats to enable the patrons to have a lively discussion with the artiste on stage. It will be built on a private land owned by Namel and his wife Malini at Cotta Road, Borella. The full cost of the project is estimated at four million rupees.

Dramatists suffer and get discouraged because they cannot find proper and readily available venues for rehearsals. "In this context, the Circle's intention is not only to provide the benefit of having rehearsals of plays, but also to promote a venue for small audiences to view such artists' creations," Namel explained.

He says the Little Theatre is a globally accepted concept. It has been shown that this type of theatre will promote an appreciative and intelligent audience and keep the theatre alive.

"Many of world's celebrated dramas were first played on small stages before they reach Broadway or West End."



An artistís impression of the proposed theatre.

This concept took root in the Namel's mind while he was living abroad - where he gained a vast knowledge on theatre production from universities such as the State University of California.

All national and international drama producers will be able to use this theatre and its facilities as a rehearsal venue. It will also enable them to organise and premiere their productions as experimental plays.

The theatre will be available for initial publicity and thereafter, if the producers so wish, for longer periods. The fee will be reasonable, says Namel. It will be a centre for the promotion and promulgation of national and international peace and harmony through the medium of theatre art.

It also expects to conduct training and academic courses in dramatic arts and related lectures, seminars, conferences and practical projects.

"We also plan to invite foreign experts to participate in the training projects and also orient a mutually beneficial exchange program of theatre artists and students via scholarships, grants and financial aid," Namel pointed out. This will also establish a permanent theatre museum as an exhibition hall. "This will be a meeting place for all artists for discussions, seminars, exhibitions and for pleasure and leisure. The spectators will be able to interact with the artists, enhancing the quality of theatre art," Namel says with confidence.

However, Namel expects to invite sponsors to make the "Punchi Theatre" a leading cultural centre and a regular meeting place of serious artists. "The initial work will begin using the money I have collected over the years," he added.

Namel whose association with the theatre dates back to several decades founded the Namel and Malini Art Circle in 1976. It has been functioning actively here and abroad - the duo were resident abroad for a long time. They returned to Sri Lanka periodically to present theoretical productions.

The inauguration of the construction work on this proposed project will be held on October 23, at Dr. N. M. Perera Mawatha (Cotta Road), Borella.

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Dharmasiri an artistic journey

A ceremony to felicitate veteran artist and journalist Dharmasiri Gamage, who achieved fame as a writer, lyricist and film maker, will be held at the Folk Art Centre, Battaramulla today (05) at 10.00 am.

Here is a brief sketch in the career of Dharmasiri Gamage written by Neil Christopher:

It is said in the 'Sidat Sangara' that it has been written to educate those who are not learned. Though it is so said, the post independent young generation of Sri Lanka experienced that classical academics tended to distance them from the core current. It was only Munidasa Cumaratunga who open-heartedly called upon the young blood to make Sinhala literature opulent.

Dharmasiri Gamage never sought to be compared with Cumaratunga. But the genuine effort he made to stimulate the younger generation into creative writing naturally makes every sensitive young writer reminiscent of Cumaratunga.

Dharmasiri Gamage never displayed himself as an authority in any field though he was involved in short story writing, versification, composition of songs, screen-play writing, and above all feature writing as a journalist. I have no intention of judging him according to the skills he displayed in those fields. He is a great man of rare calibre who with no hypocrisy is enraptured when a newcomer into the field of arts and literature shows talent.

I well remember how I met this beloved man. While I was studying in the first year at the University of Sri Jayawardenapura I wrote a short story about ragging. I sent it to 'Yovun Janatha' edited by Dharmasiri Gamage. It appeared in the paper with editorial comments. After that I went to meet Mr Gamage. He was pleased to see me as a budding short story writer. He gave me a parcel containing more than 400 letters commenting on my short story and presented another set of writings and said, "Putha, here are some poems written by your contemporaries. Select the best to be published in the next issue of 'Yovun Janatha'".

This was a new challenge to me. I think today it was a lesson of modesty that Mr Gamage taught me.

To many of us he was "Gamage Sir". The two words "Gamage Sir" do not remind us of the feudal servitude to a teacher but smell of true fragrance of a father like teacher. That is why I think today he is a revolutionary who could not accomplish his vision but who was dedicated to his mission in the utmost sense of the world.

Sir, thy name is the shepherd. The shepherd who always looks out for the lost lamb.

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Sarasaviya Film Week

The film week of the 27th Sarasaviya film festival is now being held at the Regal Cinema, Colombo.

films to be screened are:

October 05 - Jolly Hallo
06 - Kinihiriya Mal
07 - Hai Baby Hai
08 - Pissu Puso
09 - Purasanda Kaluwara
10 - Aswesuma

HNB-Pathum Udanaya2002

Crescat Development Ltd.

www.priu.gov.lk

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