Monday, 4 November 2002  
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Sunday Observer

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Sihala Wamsala - rural Sinhala folk

Drama review by E M G Edirisinghe

It is reflective not only of the tragedy of joblessness among the educated rural youth, but also of the misfortune of being subjected to humiliation of fickle urban life which strangles spiritual breath out of them. Stage play directed by Douglas Siriwardena, Sihala Wamshala focuses on the social alienation of the youth and then being consequently driven to despondency.

Sinha Wamsha (Ranjan Sooriyakumara) was thrust into the web of social, cultural and political turmoil and insecurity providing no assurance for the youth who were made to believe that degree is the licence for social and economic emancipation. Sinha Wamsha secure with an honours degree found himself insecure in alien ground being aimlessly pushed by winds of social instability and hostility. He was always at the receiving end of discrimination and disenchantment.

This is the usual story of the present day educated youth with no family status or knowledge of English to stand. They remain uprooted from the rural background and roam in search of social stability. He leaves home to escape failure in love and life. Further, the theatregoer is treated to a fresh experience of stage-craft where the form has drawn its shape and rhythm from the energetic performance of the artistes and the random speed with which is advanced. Not only the format is of experimental nature but also the structure which gives a plenty of weight to collective acting performed with verbal as well as physical emphasis. The biggest disadvantage in the play is its prolonged dialogues and dragging scenes generating hardly any progression in the movement whereas its form demands speed. For instance, the devale scene and the discussions prior to the entry of Sinha Wamsa into city life crawl.

The greatest asset in the play is the talented committed dogged performance of the collective role assigned to the artistes.

The determined and persuasive directorial hand behind the artistes is evident in each sequence that came forcefully on stage. Occasionally, timing and precision is perfect with still room for improvement in certain areas. Onstage, it appears, sometimes, overcrowded with artistes unable to perform or move about freely for want of space. The recorded music and strains have reduced most of the artistes to mere mimics with the play back vocalists drowning the voice of the performing artistes which robs the audience of the impact and the taste it intended to create. It led some of the artistes even to look lifeless and listless.

The opening act with a powerfully and neatly set out train scene is absorbing. However this dramatic beginning later begins to peter out to a slow pace to the discomfort of reluctant viewer. The throbbing tempo was maintained upto Sinha Wamsha's departure through frustration on failure of love and livelihood at home. From thereon, the play loses it grip on the audience. However, it remains loyal to its theme right throughout with its sight on the plight of the jobless educated youth.

The director has treated a cluster of complex issues rising all around within an environment of fluctuating events and issues. While some of them receive only a glance, other issues dragged on beyond dramatically sustainable limits. For instance, the scene depicting the abode of Kolomba Deyyo and activity in it is bumpy and mostly irrelevant. He being engaged in chat and gossip with Sinha Wamsa diluted the effect of the circumstances in which the two old pals met each other. Accidental meeting of his former girl friend turned prostitute would have been more convincing had the encounter been more emotional.

The play however, if it had a clear objective encapsuled within a wide vision and a trimmed script without letting it off to stray into a complexity of issues, Sihala Wamshala would have been a superb stage creation attracting both critic and audience accolades.

Sihala Wamshala marks the entry of a new generation of youngsters who are well trained and learned in the finer points in stage-crafts to reach the audience productively with the current issues experienced by both the audience and the production in the world of reality.

The director's attempt to bring the audience to feel close to the play both in conception and contact using the workshop model is basically experimental and commendable.

Segar's paintings - a colourful statement

The impressionist, who claims a debt to classical cubism, is holding his twenty fourth 'one man exhibition' at the Bishop's College auditorium on November 4 and 5, 2002. This exhibition in aid of school hi-tech fund.

As one approaches the house of Raja Segar in the green suburbs of Ja-ela, he/she is struck by the vivid splashes of turquoise blue and beige that camouflages the exterior of the house. Among the mundane houses of his neighbourhood, Segar's house stands out as a bold and colorful statement of his lifestyle. Raja Segar who is a Sri Lankan artist of international repute is preparing to hold his 24th solo exhibition in November at the Bishop's College Auditorium.

Having been a mathematician and an accountant, Segar chose to be a professional artist only in his mid-twenties. Though he had no formal training in the field in the past, the profession was thrust on him by his friends who revealed this talent in him and that he has to give his time to be groomed to be an artist, unique in his own nature.

Prior to becoming a full-time artist, Segar's hobby had been to draw and illustrate card for his friends, from which he made a very small income. But the influence and their encouragement counted more than the income that paved way to choose art as his own carreer.

Segar held his first exhibition at the Alliance Francaise in 1984 and has not looked back since. He states that his main aim is to ensure that Sri Lanka art gain adequate recognition to be displayed in famous art auctions.

Segar claims to have been inspired by cubist painters such as Pablo Picasso and also artists such as the late Phillipine-Vincente Manansala and Ganesh Pyne, the contemporary Indian artists. He describes his own work as 'figurative cubism', using mixed media including watercolors, oils, acrylics and newspaper collages. One is able to observe the recurrent use of earth-toned colours such as dusky browns and dull reds in Segar's paintings, illuminated occasionally by flashes of bright pinks, yellows and blues.

Segar is unique amongst other artists, as he frankly states that he wants to sell his paintings and not merely make a statement. His paintings therefore confront the negative as well as the positive aspects of Sri Lankan society. Segar has had exhibitions by invitation in countries as Sydney (Australia), London (United Kingdom) and Bombay (India) with enthusiastic reviews in all instances. In addition, he has taken part in several local exhibitions sponsored by the British Council and Alliance Franchaise and his work is on permanent display at the Trans Asia Hotel and at the Hilton Gallery and in the internet;

Segar's latest exhibition will also feature Sri Lankan scenes revolving around the human figure and his imagination. His paintings are neither can be classified as abstracts, nor are they in the realistic style of classical art. Perhaps his paintings could be best described as the paring down of a realistic image to a series of geometric or cubist shapes of an artistic minimum. It is almost impossible to compartmentalize the diverse work of an artist such as Raja Segar into the constraints of a particular style. Nevertheless, the preview of his work that we glimpsed promised of an intriguing and thought-provoking upcoming exhibition that is definitely worth visiting for all art enthusiasts.


Exhibition on furniture

An exhibition of original furniture by Luciana Talib organised by Alliance Francaise ends today, November 4 at the Alliance Auditorium.

Luciana Talib is a remarkable person. Her love for all works of art, be they paintings, jewellery or sculpture, and her great love of wood have led her to create some very unusual pieces of furniture.

Luciana sees the world in a very different way from the rest of us. And so an Indonesian door is transformed into a dining table; a hen coop becomes a Chinese wardrobe/cupboard. Each item of furniture then turns into a story of love or a historical tale. Her strength lies in that she is able to see beyond the strangeness of an object and perceive its beauty and charm.

Much to her clients' delight, she blends the fanciful with the impossible or against nature. Luciana is remarkable in other ways as well. Born to a noble French family, she has travelled all over the world with friendship and love in her heart.

From 6 pm she will reveal her attraction for wood through her first exhibition.

The exhibition of paintings by Lester Ruhunuhewa organised by the Alliance Francaise de Colombo was held during the last week of October.


                               By Jaykody Seneviratne
                     Dayanwansa JayakodyBookshop.
Colombo 10
          Price Rs. 260.

Award-winning author Jayakody Seneviratne's latest Sinhala novel "Athavesiyo" is the second part of his earlier work "Coloniya", the story is based on the experiences of the second World War. The novel also describes the social, political and economic changes in the Sri Lankan society during the war time.

Mr. Seneviratne is the author of many other popular novels, such as, "Kumarihamy", "Vajirani," "Ammai Duvai", "Nena", "Minissu", "Nominissu" and "Dandu Anduwa".


Vev Bendi Rajje Savariyak
By Edmund Jayasuriya
Dayawansa Jayakody Bookshop-Colombo 10
Price Rs. 200.

"Vev Bendi Rajje Savariyak" is the latest book written by Edmund Jayasuirya, who was the Assistant Government Agent in Anuradhapura. He describes how people live near tanks and their customs. - R.S. Karunaratne


The Cake show - 2002

The biggest cake show of the year "The Cake Show 2002" organized by Priyangika Malporuge and her students will be held on November 9 and 10 at Bandaranaike Memorial International Commemoration Hall, from 10 am to 7 pm each day. Priyangika who has been engaged in teaching cake making for the last 12 years conducts cake making classes in several towns of the island like in Maharagama, Panadura, Dehiwala, Kalutara, Kegalle, Kiribathgoda, Rathanpura and Negombo.

The main item of the exhibition is the wedding cake decorations made of special ingredients which are proven long lasting. She claims that this is the first time in the world that such long lasting ingredient cake decorations have been created.

VAFA Alumni Show 2000

VAFA Alumni association, formed in year 2000, presents its second group exhibition "VAFA Alumni Show 2".

The artists presented in the show are Manjula Priyadarshana, Chandana Wasantha, Chammika Jayawardana, Kusal Nandana, Arjuna Gunaratne, Anura Krishantha and Saman Liyanage. The exhibition will be open till November 10 at VAFA Gallery located at the Sarvodaya centre, on Kotte Road, Ethul Kotte.

(The Gallery can be reached on bus routes 153, 168 and 163).

Painting and sculpture exhibition

The sixth painting and sculpture exhibition of Nayanananda Wijekulathillake will be opened at 6 pm on November 8 at Lionel Wendt Art Gallery.

The exhibition will be for two days, November 9 and 10 from 9 am. to 7 pm.

Stage drama Sihala Wamsala

A Sinhala stage drama titled 'Sihala Wamsala' directed by Attorney-at-Law Douglas Siriwardena will be staged on November 8 at 3.30 and 6.30 pm at the John de Silva Memorial Theatre, Colombo 7.

Sihala Wansala is an award winning drama which portrays the tragedy faced by the well educated Sri Lankan young generation due to existing economic, social and political problems in the country.




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