“Life’s most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” --
Martin Luther King
Help those in distress!
Isn’t it a pleasure to make a needy person happy by giving him what
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
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,
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
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
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
“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
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.
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
Two swindlers get their hands on a map to the fabled city of gold, El
Please contact the American Centre at firstname.lastname@example.org 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