Author: Sachitra MAHENDRA
Source: Daily News
They are caught up in their own encounters at different locations. The four couples have a dilemma: they can hardly grasp the identity of each other. Indika Ferdinando is to ferret out the solace among them in his latest stage play ‘Colombo Colombo’.
Ferdinando has received many awards for his plays including Janadipathi Thaththa. He was the best upcoming director at the State Drama Festival 2000. He is a versatile artiste, above all, being a director, actor and scriptwriter. He found his feet strong on the stage during his university years.
“Cast is the most important element for me. They have a magic within them. For this matter, no one can challenge the cast, so I keep on doing theatre productions until I discover their magic in a full scope.” Ferdinando says.
‘Colombo Colombo’ is an attempt to exhume the life in crowded Colombo. It provides a periscopic view into what is happening in various places of Colombo such as tunnels. Characters move on with their varied experiences. The satire in the plot, Ferdinando handles with much ease.
The music in the play are almost surrealistic, but they are not so in actual sense. Dances are tuned to the effect of the song-rhythm. The play, which runs for half an hour, does not have a traditional separate music orchestration. It is being rehearsed at the premises of University of Visual Arts and Performance these days with the participation of both undergraduates and outsiders.
Lovers are engaged in their personal talks, while a balloon man passes by. In the following scene, they all dance together. All characters are similar and diverse in their own forms. All scenes are like a tapestry, says Saumya Liyanage, who performs the male lead.
“I always loved the theatre. It is so amazing. My role in Colombo Colombo is diverse. I mainly act like an old man but I act like a young lover too.”
Anasuya Subasinghe, more seen on the English stage, performs the female lead. She finds her role as Vyanga very challenging. Vyanga is both old and young.
“It shifts rapidly, so it’s sort of challenging to give life to various roles in one go.” She says.
Commenting on the Sinhala theatre, Anushiya says it’s more professional in the Lankan context, whereas the English theatre is confined to Colombo.
“But I think it has a solid audience within Colombo premises.” A tragicomedy by nature, it brings in a novel aspect of theatre performance, with the physical form of the guitar being used both as a musical instrument and also as a character in the play.
The play is the offshoot of a research project carried by Indika Ferdinando and Saumya Liyanage. The research paper was recently submitted to the symposium held at the University of Kelaniya.
“The theatre has been dominated by the Aristotelian linear mode. It restricts the theatre’s scope and affects the natural development of this art medium. Theatre should go beyond the limitations. You have a wide scope in the theatre.”
Indika’s plays do not respect the accepted norm. They rather come up with fragments. Life itself is fragmented, so the theatre should be the same. Yet they are all thematically similar.
The drama also brings together versatile set designer Pradeep Chandrasiri who has won the State Drama Award for Set Design for several consecutive years, as well as Thushan Dias as Lighting Designer, backed by many years of experience and a range of productions to his credit in both the Sinhala and English stage.
The drama is presented by Theatre Plus, which was formed as an experimental platform for theatre practitioners and looks into various aspects of theatre production and related research.
Its membership consists of experienced theatre practitioners and academics and works with a sound practical orientation.
Although these incidents take place in four different locations in Colombo, they represent the issues prevalent in every corner of this island. ‘Colombo Colombo’ attempts to look critically at some of the influences that transform human relationships and lead them into conflict; the social and political system that constantly infiltrates those human relationships; and the collective indifference with which the public nurtures the system severely influences their lives.
‘Colombo Colombo’ is a tragi-comic musical play and an experimental theatre endeavour that consists of a compilation of independent scenes and does not conform to a linear story line. However, the scenes are cohesively linked by the appearances of several significant characters that are common to all the events.
Another important aspect of this play is the use of the guitar and the human body as musical instruments, while the actors collectively play the roles of musician, singer and dancer.
At times, ‘Colombo Colombo’ takes a jab at transcending reason and reality. It is fast-paced, theatrical, and bursting with energy. It attempts to create a fresh theatre experience for the Sri Lankan audience.
Colombo Colombo theatre production
Stage set and costume design: Pradeep Chandrasiri
Music: Theja Buddhika Rodrigo (Misha)
Choreography: Manubandu Vidyapathy
Make-up: Jagath Padmasiri
Lighting Design: Thushan Dias
Stage Management: Kosala Thotawatte
Stage Management Assistance:
Himali Thakshala amd Disna Dilantha
Lyrics: Piyal Kariyawasam
Media Coordination: Gaya Nagahawatta
Script and Direction: Indika Ferdinando
A Theatre Plus production.
Colombo Colombo will be staged at 7 pm on August 8 and 9 at the Lionel Wendt Theatre.