Our theatre is crumbling down - Lucien Bulathsinhala
Lucien Bulathsinghala is a proficient theatre artist who started his
vocation as a stage actor in the 1960s. The earliest role he played was
Saliya in a traditional tragicomedy entitled Sakunthala.
It was highly admired at the time. The play was directed by the then
examination commissioner L. L. K Gunasekara. His first original play
Mannadiya was staged in the
1960s. The plot of the play revolved around economic problems of the
ordinary fisher community. Lucien wrote the script himself based on his
experiences with the fishermen he met in Rathmalana coastal area where
his parents lived.
Sirilal Kodikara, the renowned critic, reviewed that Mannadiya should
be staged in every fishing village. Bandula Jayawardane fine tuned
Lucien’s talents and paved the way for his second play Noniwena Gini.
Lucien’s role in Bihivena Bosathano received rave reviews in the press.
His next play Rathuhattakari was staged in 1974. During this period,
Lucien had the opportunity to act in theatre productions directed by
Sugathapala de Silava and Premaranjith Thilakaratne. Then he staged
Tharavo Igilethi in 1981. Meanwhile he served as an announcer at Sri
Lanka Broadcasting Corporation and joined Rupavahini and worked towards
its development. However, he had to leave Rupavahini after sometime.
The seven years of lagging behind from Rathuhattakari (1974) to
Tharavo Igilethi (1981) resulted not due to the ‘creative wait’ for the
next artistic creation. He was busy in the Sri Lanka Broadcasting
Corporation as an announcer for his living. Later the authorities
transferred him from Radio to Television in the sense of developing the
television media. However he left the television after couple of years
as a chastisement for doing his job in a proper artistic manner.
Then for 18 more years he, unto today, remained jobless. Thus, he, as
a theatre artist, became motionless in the middle of his path. Thus,
after Tharavo Igilethi, Lucient never got involved in theatre directing
and unconsciously decided to remain in silence for such a long time.
The underdevelopment of our social formation was also responsible for
his present silence in stage. Lucien, while arguing on this particular
matter, compared the facilities and the technicalities of the theatre in
developed countries with our theatre.
“I had an opportunity to be familiar with German theatre during my
seven-month stay in Germany. German theatre has a chequered history and
a fully systematized process of its own. We don’t have such a theatre
tradition in Sri Lanka.” Germany has a well developed and independent
theatre tradition in every region even at the pre-modern era. Today,
this diversity of traditions combined into a united State tradition of
theatre practices without blotting their original identities out.
These regional theatres still remained in Germany. They are able to
afford the financial expenses of their theatre productions on their own,
even without any help from the State government. The State institutions
involve in helping financially as well. Yet most of theatre productions
perform independently. Therefore, the German spectator has to travel to
catch see his or her favorite play. Various kinds of theatre artists are
rooted completely to a particular region of theatre. We Sri Lankans have
a gypsy theatre.
Theatre productions moves always from one region to another. And the
theater facilities in the remote areas are very poor. We don’t
accurately maintain any independent regional theatre or we don’t either
have any stable institution to help in our theatre education and
”Whenever I visited a developed country and experience their quality
of theatre, I always monologue to myself as to why I am a theatre
artiste in this world.” Lucien’s confession about his silence in theatre
came not from a mere paranoid. Our underdeveloped condition in theatre
pulled him into such a state of mind. Our theatre constantly relies on
uncertain audiences and technically expired theatre halls. Lack of
professionals, proper theatre halls, educational standards and the
removal of practical lessons in schools created this backwardness. The
theatre today in Sri Lanka becomes increasingly worse from city limits
to remote areas.