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Thursday, 27 June 2013

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“Life’s most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” -- Martin Luther King

Help those in distress!

Dear Children,

Isn’t it a pleasure to make a needy person happy by giving him what he needs.

There are some people who are in need of somebody’s assistance constantly and there are others who have to seek other people’s help due to unexpected circumstances. For example accidents or natural disasters strike people without prior notice. At such unhappy moments those who are in distress have to rely entirely on outside help.

During the last few weeks we experienced heavy rains. As a result some people were displaced. Due to floods their properties were destroyed. We saw on television how various volunteer groups and the government officials provided the people in distress food, medicine and other necessities.

Even though it is the duty of the government to reach out for those who are in need of assistance, all of us too have a responsibility to help those in distress.

This applies to any situation - It could be a road accident or any other emergency. Sometimes one of your classmates in school may fall sick and be absent from school for a few days. When he/she is back he/she may need your assistance to find the study notes. You can help your classmate by giving him/her the notes etc.

In a situation of natural disaster you can help the affected people in many ways and means. With the help of your parents/guardians you can offer them meal packets or clothes.

However you should develop a liking for what you do.

Just as Mother Theresa said what matters is “Not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”

Bye for now,

Sanju


Great Minds

Dr. Gamini Haththotuwegama:

Father of Sri Lankan Street Drama

Imagine standing in a railway station waiting for a delayed train. Suddenly someone grabs your attention by running onto the middle of the platform.

As you watch, several others gather around him, and soon a drama begins to unfold, then another, and another. The titles are just as interesting as the performances - ‘Raja Dekma’, ‘Minihekuta Ellila Marenna Berida’ and ‘Polima’. Welcome to the world of street drama.

The concept of taking the theater away from the city, away from those who are rich enough to pay for theater tickets, to the streets, railway stations and villages so that every man, woman and child could watch and enjoy a drama, free of charge, was introduced to Sri Lanka by Dr.Gamini Haththotuwegama.

Travelling back in time, Kanchuka Dharmasiri recalls, how the first street drama was performed at the station in Anuradhapura. The day was 7th June 1974. Several students of the Ranga Shilpa Shalika -among them Hemasiri Abeywardena, Parakrama Niriella, H.A. Perera and Nimal Chandrasiri - were at the Anuradhapura station with their theatre instructor Dr.Haththotuwegama. “While waiting for the train out of Anuradhapura, the troupe members spontaneously decided to perform a play on the station platform for the other passengers awaiting trains,” writes Dharmasiri. “Since there was no defined performance area, Gamini Haththotuwegama took the prop sword, walked in circles brandishing it about, struck it at a specific spot and declared: “This is where we will perform!” The group then enacted Can’t a Man Hang Himself, for a ever-changing audience of people coming and going as the trains arrived and departed-until the performers themselves had to board the train to Colombo.”

“Thus was founded the street theatre tradition in Sri Lanka. Gamini Haththotuwegama, who accompanied his students on that crucial journey, kept the group going for more than 30 years, until he passed away on October 29, 2009. Parakrama Niriella writes in “Prabhuddhayana, Andurana, Mithurana”: “The Wayside and Open Theatre was similar to a bus that was travelling towards a beautiful infinity existing far away. Our teacher, Haththotuwegama was its driver.”

Born on 29th November 1938, in Galle, Dr. Gamini Kalyanadarsha Haththotuwegama, who was also known as GK, Hatha and Haththa had his early education at Richmond College, Galle. In 1956, he entered the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya, and obtained a Honours Degree in English.

He then returned to his hometown and began his professional life as an English teacher and the teacher-in-charge of drama at Richmond College, Galle. In 1965 he joined the Vidyalankara University of Ceylon, Kelaniya, as a lecturer in English. After serving the Universities of Kelaniya and Peradeniya for more than four decades he retired from the university service in 2005.

According to Professor Padmasiri Kulasekera of the University of Kelaniya, by holding street drama shows without tickets, for the benefit of various groups of people both in the cities the villages, and by conducting theatre workshops for them, Dr. Haththotuwegama has rendered an immense service as a pioneer educator in theatre production, and theatre performance as well.

His commitment to drama was not confined to local Sri Lankan theatre. His services were obtained by foreign countries, too. From 1980 onwards, he delivered lectures, took part in theatre workshops and confabs and held theatre performances in quite a number of foreign countries, such as India, Australia, Norway, Germany, the Philippines and Thailand.

His contribution to the field of mass communication, too, is immense. Through his academic discourses and discussions, and through critical reviews of dramas, films, and books, he had rendered an immeasurable service to broaden popular awareness.

“Dr. Haththotuwegama was a prominent figure in the field of film criticism too. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Film Critics and Journalists Association - the first attempt in that direction in Sri Lanka - and became its founder president. This Association held international film festivals which included highly acclaimed foreign films with a view to exposing the public to the latest trends in world cinema.”

In recognition and appreciation of his unique contribution to the development of the tradition of alternative theatre he was honoured with a State Award at the State Drama Festival, sponsored by the Sri Lanka Arts Council. In appreciation of the excellent service performed by him as an erudite scholar, as a university academic and a teacher who imparted knowledge to thousands of students, as a translator and ‘transcreator’, as a dramatist and as a media person, the University of Kelaniya too conferred an honourary degree of Doctor of Philosophy on him,” says Professor Kulasekera. That, briefly is the story of Dr. Gamini Haththotuwegama, who was undoubtedly, one of the most widely loved professors of 20th century Sri Lanka.

This is the last article in this series. Hope you enjoyed meeting some of the Great Minds of our country through this column. Until we meet again, stay well, be happy.

-Aditha
aditha.dissanayake@gmail.com


The Road to El Dorado

The Road to El Dorado (2000) will be screened on June 29 at 3.30pm at the American Centre, No 44, Galle Road, Colombo 3. (Running Time: 89 minutes)

Two swindlers get their hands on a map to the fabled city of gold, El Dorado.

Please contact the American Centre at amcentersl@state.gov or at (011) 2498100 with any inquiries.


Pirates of the curry bean on stage

Colombo International School (CIS) Kandy presented the stage play Pirates of the curry bean recently maintaining its tradition of staging an annual Junior School Production.


Kids dancing concert at Kansip Pre School

Kansip Pre-School,Nilpanagoda,Minuwangoda presented a ‘Kids Dancing Concert’ at the preschool recently. Here students presenting a Kawadi dance and another item. Picture by Ivon Nissanka,(Divulapitiya group Correspondent)


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