Of all the arts in Sri Lanka, theatre is the most uncared, neglected, considered not necessary for the development of societal values, and most importantly the sense of reflection of the embedding of humanity or compassion amongst the populace which seem to be fast disappearing from the minds of the present-day society. It’s very saddening, regrettable and most unfortunate. This is because dramatists are a class of defeatists and of depression. They are unable to proceed fully committed to theatre arts. Reason is lack of finances. Poverty. Now of course they are totally kept out of it due to the Covid-19 pandemic of which they do not know when there will be an escape from its subjection. The difficult and poor practitioners of it and the other partners of it as playwrights, actors, actresses, stage hands, make-up artists and the whole gamut of involved personnel in it have become totally pauperised and no way for them to survive.
To solve this problem, and to come out of this dilemma, I have a solution if Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Finance Minister and Minister of Culture, can approve and give consent to introduce and functionalise a Lottery titled “NATYA SETHA” in the Lotteries Board in order to create a “THEATRE FUND” from which all the artistes involved in the field can be supported by a grant system with no hindrance for their survival. Furthermore, in the future this Theatre Fund can begin a separate Winged Department of Ministry of Culture can manage and support for the propagation of theatre totally promoting “Theatre Artistes’’, as referred to above a PROFESSIONAL TRAINED GROUP.” If such a scheme is introduced through the Lotteries Board it would certainly be sans a burden to the Government. I vouch the general populace too would support such a Lottery since they know whom the funds would be allocated to. The buyers of the lottery tickets spend only a tiny sum of twenty rupees with the personal aim and wish of winning an award. The government of course would have its profitable share and the tax benefit too.
In this respect a theatre fund certainly can be established as I requested and proposed at the outset of this penning. I repeat and propose that a Lottery titled “NATYA SETHA” be introduced to be established by the Lotteries Board for sale like any other Lottery weekly.
Theatre is the strongest discipline and convincingly tameable of the art forms of the populaces’ that exists in any society. It’s indirectly a very strong persuasive religion. It’s not a customary religion. All over the world theatre is the tool where most of the humans are tamed and disciplined and make them societally make responsible human beings through the process of understanding and comprehension. It’s not some media for someone to believe by tradition or by custom. But theatre is a mechanism that convinces what humanism is. By viewing meaningful heart-breaking serious theatre audiences become moved, with emotionally dribbling tears. So is when they are seeing good comedies. They break into sudden giggling laughs self-wise. With all these they feel self-wise thinking reasonably adjusting to be human beings. Theatre is a collective art, and most importantly and fundamentally it is religious for it moulds and guides the character of humans imbuing through understanding and perception.
Serious theatre artists are the carriers of this humane message to the society. This is very much felt and seen in the developed countries, for instance, in the Western world, specifically England, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Russia and the United States. Going to the theatre in those countries is religious like going to the Churches and practicing other religions of the world. It’s no doubt for entertainment but totally and indirectly it’s religious for wisdom, and ultimately for intellectualism. In those countries a play production runs consequently for years non-stop. Some even thirty to forty years daily with the changes of castes. Yet the houses are full every day. For instance after buying tickets some viewers wait for years after purchasing. For good seats, perhaps it may not be for the balcony. To exemplify in the first year when Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Production of the Phantom of the Opera was opened, when I was in London, I and my wife waited for almost three years to watch it being closer to the stage clearly and for better understanding. This was around thirty years back. Still this play is continuing its run. Still there is a play in London in a Soho Theatre at the West End named Agatha Christie’s “Mouse Trap” donated to her grandson on his 9th Birthday as a gift. This is the longest running play in the whole world since 1952 almost 70 years continuously with changes of castes. Theatre is an inherent part of their culture.
They are unable to proceed fully committed to theatre arts. Reason is lack of finances. Poverty. Now of course they are totally kept out of it due to the Covid-19 pandemic of which they do not know when there will be an escape from its subjection.
Why I emphasize so much for theatre is because it can be converted into a decent source of income also for the annual budgets too if it is encouraged by the Government to prosper whilst providing a good employer scheme as well. This has to be well designed and make it a professional mechanism like any other business. In this respect a theatre fund certainly can be established as I requested and proposed at the outset of this penning. I repeat and propose that a Lottery titled “NATYA SETHA” be introduced to be established by the Lotteries Board for sale like any other Lottery weekly.
In the present field of Theatre what they want is encouragement and the availability of finance and freedom. It is also necessary to state here that there is a huge number of graduates passed out from all the Universities of the Country and particularly out of them a separate University exists for Theatre and Arts in Colombo named Aesthetic University. Besides theatre and drama it is also a curricular subject in all the Educational Institutions in