Reputed dramatist Buddhika Damayantha is currently putting the finishing touches to his latest stage drama which will be staged at Lumbini Theatre on July 9 and 10. Named Suranganak Avith the plot is based on American playwright Neil Simon’s 1966 comedy ‘The Star-Spangled Girl’. The story revolves around three major characters: Andy, Norman and Sophie.
Andy and Norman are two young journalists residing in a two storey building, full of plans for their magazine. Enter Sophie, a lovely girl in a neighbouring apartment and Norman falls for her immediately. Drama emerge when Andy who hires her to curb Norman’s obsession finds out that Sophie had an interest towards him, not his friend! How will the trio handle the situation? Will they merely come to terms with the turn of events or will more than the foundations of friendship be shattered?
Bringing the hilarious comedy to life had certainly been a challenge for Buddhika. Though Suranganak Avith marks his 14th stage production, it will be his first attempt at a comedy play. Having started off in 1994 with the translation of Samuel Beckett’s ‘Endgame’ as Padadaya, he emerged with a play for a continuous number of years.
Some of his creations are the translations of works by renowned playwrights like Tennessee Williams, Harold Pinter, Athol Fugard, Vijay Tendulkar and Henrik Ibsen. Interestingly each year one of Buddhika’s plays had been nominated for the final round at the State Drama Festivals, the last which was titled Uthuru Konata Patu Varan which had been based on Athol Fugard’s ‘Boesman and Lena’.
It represented the final round of the State Drama Festival last year. His drama, the Sinhala translation of Murray Schisgal’s ‘The Typist’ as ‘Davasa Thaama Gevunay Ne’ clinched the title of best drama in 1998. Apart from clinching the best director award the play also produced the Best Actor (Saumya Liyanage) and the Best Actress (Jayani Senanayake).
He also staged a drama named Putha Enakan which was scripted by Aruna Premaratne in 2006. This was also chosen for the final round at the State Drama Festival and is the only original play he had staged so far. Speaking on how he selects the scripts for his productions, Buddhika stated that he chose the plots for their aesthetic appeal.
“Most of the plays I have staged so far are translations of great plays. These works are universal and timeless and many are able to enjoy them despite the fact that they have been originally scripted by dramatists abroad. If a good script which catches my interest is presented to me I would not hesitate in staging the production,” he noted.
An old boy of Dharmapala Vidyalaya, Pannipitiya, Buddhika had developed his talent for the stage from his school days. He was a keen participant of the stage plays organized by the school literary society and the Boy Scouts group. Later he took up the subject at a wider angle by following the National Youth Services Council drama course.
He said: “It is challenging to stage a drama today as it had become a non profiting factor. Hardly anyone shows interest towards uplifting the local stage drama scene. I engaged in the subject merely because I harness a deep passion for theatre. Similarly it is only a few individuals like myself who still keep the field alive.”
Buddhika and team hopes to take their stage drama to many parts of the island after its premier in Colombo. He said that, fortunately, the audience in remote areas are very intrigued when a local production visits their region.
The cast of Suranganak Avith comprises Sujeewa Priyalal, Mahendra Wijeratne and Madhanee Malwattha. Sunil Chandrasiri translated the original script. Premajayantha Kapuge is the make up artist while Kapila Kithsiri is in charge of the lighting. The stage setting is by Upul C. Dayawansha. Nadeeka Guruge is the music director, Sujeewa Priyalal is in charge of the publicity, Asela Ruwan and Dinusha Jayakody are the Stage Managers. Suranganak Avith is produced by Poojitha Uduwana.