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Wednesday, 2 November 2011

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A night with Pyramus and Thisbe

Jehan Aloysius and his grand thespians took to the stage recently to perform their version of Pyramus And Thisbe. The evening was full of hilarity and surprises as the actors even got some people from the audience to take part in the drama. The choreography gets the prize for being innovative and original.

A scene from Pyramus and Thisbe Pictures by Sachini Perera

Jehan

The Original version of Pyramus and Thisbe is told by Ovid in his Metamorphoses. There have been many adaptations of Pyramus and Thisbe over the centuries. Pyramus and Thisbe are two characters of Roman mythology, whose love story of ill-fated lovers is also a sentimental romance.

“In the Ovidian version, Pyramus and Thisbe is the story of two lovers in the city of Babylon who occupy connected houses/walls, forbidden by their parents to be wed, because of their parents’ rivalry. Through a crack in one of the walls, they whisper their love for each other. They arrange to meet near at Ninus’ tomb under a mulberry tree and state their feelings for each other. Thisbe arrives first, but upon seeing a lioness with a mouth bloody from a recent kill, she flees, leaving behind her veil. The lioness drinks from a nearby fountain, then by chance mutilates the veil Thisbe had left behind. When Pyramus arrives, he is horrified at the sight of Thisbe’s veil, assuming that a fierce beast had killed her. Pyramus kills himself, falling on his sword in proper Roman fashion, and in turn splashing blood on the white mulberry leaves. Pyramus’ blood stains the white mulberry fruits, turning them dark. Thisbe returns, eager to tell Pyramus what had happened to her, but she finds Pyramus’ dead body under the shade of the mulberry tree. Thisbe, after a brief period of mourning, stabs herself with the same sword. In the end, the gods listen to Thisbe’s lament, and forever change the colour of the mulberry fruits into the stained colour to honour the forbidden love”

So states an entry in Wikipedia.

The Pyramus and Thisbe plot appears twice in Shakespeare’s works, most famously in the plot of Romeo and Juliet. Another version being the comic recapitulation of Pyramus and Thisbe which appears in the play a Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was this comic recapitulation that theatrical genius Jehan Aloysius staged. Aloysius led from the front playing the role of Nick Bottom. He was well supported by a group of immensely talented actors and dancers both girls and boys. The young girls’ bodies glistened in the stage lights and the dance was full of power and passion.

It was an unforgettable evening with a lot of improvisation. Aloysius and his crew drew peels of laughter with the usage of smart Sinhalese. A foreign lady in the audience was humorously called: “Anna Suddhiyek”.

Aloysius wearing false teeth to make him look like a donkey used the most lethal weapon in his theatrical armory, and that was his humor. There was even a scene where he threw his fake knife and the stage manager entered clasping the knife to his chest and collapsing on the stage. Aloysius said “Hambe! Stage Manager ne?”

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