I consider myself fortunate enough to be among the distinguished gathering of mostly consisting of my, contemporaries of Peradeniya , seniors and juniors who still love drama, to watch and enjoy the third staging of Ravanasitabhilashaya at the Punchi Theatre at Borella recently.
Except being a lover of drama, I do not know whether I am qualified enough to comment on, or review a unique production of stylized Musical drama which came on stage almost five decades after Maname and Sinhabahu. Among the audience I noticed veteran actors, authors and experienced and renowned critics who will no doubt contribute their views very soon.
At the very outset let me mention that at the opening of the curtain itself, the beating of the Maddala took us back to the late fifties and early sixties of Peradeniya campus. With the appearance of three Poteguras a novel feature to me, the tempo developed and continued for almost two hours with pin drop silence from the spectators, till the curtain came down with a continuous applause from the enthralled audience. This is good enough to prove a success of a drama although it is too early to comment.
I heard that the original drama was written by Prof. J.B. Dissanayaka way back in the fifties much before he became a professor and shows the signs of becoming one. Being an erudite scholar who has authored hundreds of books on Sinhala language, culture, literature including traditions and values of Sri Lanka Prof. JB along with his contemporary colleague Namel seems to have updated his script and given a new twist to Walmiki’s Classic Ramayana to suit the modern day Drama with the Nadagan style steps and rhythm and décor accompanied with traditional music composed by veteran Jayantha Arvinda of Ratnavali fame.
There is no doubt it is a serious musical drama without common unwarranted cheap sarcasm and ear splitting shrill and bang of drums. The caste which is experienced and new, give life to almost all characters. My comments will be too long if I take them individually. The costumes which blend the attractive and colourful ancient Sri Lankan and Indian styles have been prepared with meticulous care and neatness. Many scenes, songs, dances and dialogues without losing their originality and freshness compelled me to compare and compete with those of Maname and Sinhabahu. This thought has not devalued the quality of the drama but enhanced it.
Many scenes, songs, dances and dialogues without losing their originality and freshness compelled me to compare and compete with those of Maname and Sinhabahu. This thought has not devalued the quality of the drama but enhanced it
The whole production seems to me a successful revival of Maname and Sinhabahu tradition and style with inputs of JBs and Namel’s wide experience enriching with modern theatrical developments in stage management and lighting.
My genuine fear is whether the theatres or the stages in the country except a limited number in Colombo and outstations are geared to stage this colourful drama which may limit the opportunity of enjoying such a quality performance to a large number of enthusiasts.
Let me wish success to all the caste and everyone behind this magnificent production and performance. Credit goes to two veterans Prof. JB and Namel and Producer Malini. I am yet to see a schedule of future performances and I wish to request all lovers of stage drama not to miss the opportunity of seeing it fresh.