Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What awaits our drama culture?



Senior dramatist Dharmasiri Bandaranayake delves into lessons learnt at Bharat Rang Mahotsav, New Delhi, and questions where our theatre is heading in the absence of a national cultural policy
By Randima Attygalle
Bharat Rang Mahotsav (National Theatre Festival), an artistic effort of the National School of Drama, New Delhi, instrumental in bringing dramatic skill of reputed artistes from all corners of the globe to one common dais, marked its successful 13th milestone in New Delhi last month.
Hybridity being the hallmark of this much acclaimed international theatre festival, it seeks to create a common platform for the veteran and the novice – the latter to imbibe the former.
Senior dramatist Dharmasiri Bandaranayake’s Makarakshaya, an adaptation of Yevgeny Shvart’s The Dragon, was honoured as the Sri Lankan representation at Bharat Rang Mahotsav which was concluded on January 22. The Nation spoke to Bandaranayake upon his return from Delhi, to share his experience of this ambitious theatrical venture and many a stumble block he and his cast had to battle with, in order to make the performance on a foreign soil a reality.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sri Lankan dragon goes to Delhi

by Bhagya Senaratne



As I walked in to the Trikone Cultural Centre, I was greeted by a smiling Dharmasiri Bandaranayake who is shouldering a lot of responsibility at the moment in getting his cast to Delhi for the 13th Bharat Rang Mahostav (Indian Drama Festival).
This will be the first time a play directed by Dharmasiri Bandaranayake will be staged in a foreign country! Therefore the excitement was obvious while he spoke to me. The reason he stated was “my casts are too large.” Due to this simple reason, not many people approach him to take his plays out of the country.

Dharmasiri Bandaranayake


I watched this play for the first time last July, as it was recommended to me by a friend. I noticed it has a simple story line, which addresses complex issues. The story is woven around Elisa, an ordinary girl who is soon to be taken away as a bride by the city’s guardian, The Dragon. She is the ‘chosen one’ for the year, The Dragon’s choice, merely because of her beauty. She reluctantly accepts her plight and tries to prepare herself mentally for the unforgettable day.


It’s a public secret that, once chosen, a girl will never return. A handsome young worrier, Lancelot, without the shining armour, walks in to this city. He sees the depression amongst a certain section in society. He wants to help change the plight of young Elisa. The story then moves on to depict the means deployed by Lancelot in his efforts.

‘THE DRAGON’ goes to India

Dharmasiri Bandaranayake’s stage play vies for festival honours
The new production of veteran dramatist, actor and film director Dharmasiri Bandaranayake’s stage play Makarakshaya (The Dragon), has been selected to represent Sri Lanka in the Bharat Rang Mahotsav Theatre Festival (Indian National Drama Festival).
The festival will be held from January 8 to 22 in New Delhi, India.
It is organised annually by the National School of Drama in India.
Stage plays representing various countries will be staged in the festival.
All facilities, except travelling expenses, for the group of the play will be provided by the Indian Government. Budget of the travelling expenses for 40 members of the group including air tickets and delivery of stage properties adds up to Rs 1,250,000.

A theatre festival has been organised from November 26 to 28 at Lionel Wendt, Colombo, to raise funds to cover this expense to represent the play, Makarakshaya (The Dragon), in the Bharat Rang Mahotsav Theatre Festival (Indian National Drama Festival). The invitation provides Sri Lanka an opportunity to expose Sinhala drama to the South Asian cultural scene and consolidate rebuilding peace and reconciliation.
Following plays will be staged in the festival:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

MAKARAKSHAYA -Pricked the conscience with finesse

 







11-07-2010 



Banadranayake, as Lancelot, eliminated the dragon or Makara uthumanang, in a single-handed battle he was engaged in for over 23 years­ — certainly making one’s eyebrow raise. The youthful persona of Lancelot, who took to the stage in mid ’70s, was skilfully revived by Wasantha Wittachchi, the age of the artiste becoming secondary to the ‘goods delivered’ with such a flair

By Randima Attygalle



Walking into Parakramabahu Vidyalaya in Narahenpita, where rehearsals of Dharmasiri Bandaranayake’s Makarakshaya were in progress on a Monday afternoon in June, held no sign of an eventful ending of a day. With a round of refreshments, the rehearsals commenced, dragon or Makarakshaya’s fiery thud engulfing the vicinities. The ‘sinned mortals’ of a city terrorised by a blood thirsty creature, shriek in mortal fear. In a split second, the dramatist’s thunderous boom itself silences the mortals present at every corner of the hall, suddenly oblivious to the blood-sucking mosquitoes of the real world at dusk. Emotions run riot, frustration of an artiste seeking perfection is felt heavy in the air, a mobile phone is scattered into fragments, some picking pieces in a futile attempt to re-assemble… Young minds of the cast assume (fortunately) that it’s an integral part of the drama itself! Bandaranayake roars with clenched fists, urging to bring out the potential of each artiste…

A fortnight later, at the Wendt, when Lancelot killed the dragon and festivity followed in every nook and corner of the once terrorised city, backstage flooded with trickles of merriment, thumping on the backs, words of congratulations, few of us who witnessed the labours of a creation in a humble school hall, a dramatist’s anxiety and the crusade till the final curtain draws, shared a knowing smile - that ‘it was all worth it.’

Bandaranayake proved his theatrical mettle once more to the first-viewer of much acclaimed Makarakshaya, and undoubtedly, to the faithful viewer of yesteryear, lost in a reverie of fond memories. A political satire in its best, subtlety closer to the contemporary audience than ever before, Makarakshaya manifested a persuasive theatrical attempt, a footprint left in the soul of the theatre lover, not easily concealed.

Banadranayake, as Lancelot, eliminated the dragon or Makara uthumanang, in a single-handed battle he was engaged in for over 23 years- certainly making one’s eyebrow raise. The youthful persona of Lancelot, who took to the stage in mid ’70s, was skilfully revived by Wasantha Wittachchi, the age of the artiste becoming secondary to the ‘goods delivered’ with such a flair.

Dharmapriya Dias of Machan fame, added another feather to his cap as nagaradhipathi or the mayor, stealing the show, versatility apparent in every gesture. The complex story line delivered to the audience, with effortless portrayal by Dharmapriya, together with Chulla Jayawardana as the cat, evoked laughter, not merely at verbosity coupled with witty repartee, but at the rulers attempting to achieve their ends at the cost of those ruled. Needless to say that Lakshman Mendis reaped the harvest of his experience, stepping into the shoes of the dragon with ease.

Sadly, the drama failed in the hands of Elissa, one of the lead roles portrayed by Yashodha Wimaladharma. Although the feminine charm of Elissa was given life by Yashodha, the vigour of the character- the very cornerstones of it were not done justice. Her voice barely audible, contradicted the basic rudiments of stage play. In the light of the former artistes playing Elissa (Swarna Mallawarachchi and Ramani Bartholomeusz) Yashodha’s portrayal appeared as one grossly lacking ‘life’.

The mastery of the director deserves credit in localising the drama, whilst preserving the original flavour of Yevgeny Shvart’s political satire, carefully exploiting devices such as costumes. Little known faculty of Bandaranayake as a dress designer, deserves compliments, the costumes of the cast proving one-of-a-kind, with chic added to by the flawless cut of Chiranthi Mallikarachchi- the maiden effort of the latter in an endeavour of this nature, which truly deserves encouragement. The headpiece of the dragon, a masterpiece by Vimal Jayawardana, could send waves of shudder among the audience, while the choreography of Jehan Aloysius, struck a fine blend of anxiety and festivity, latter prominent in the celebrations marking the end of the dragon.

Despite the conscience realising the truth, the human race often leads an existence of indifference, buffered by façade. Makarakshaya certainly pricked the conscience of such superficial existence. The dragon was annihilated, yet, can it extend to the dragon within all of us? Shvart once questioned, so did Bandaranayake. The artistic effort of addressing the human conscience is a mammoth task that no other medium can attempt to attain, which Makarakshaya did with such finesse.

Makarakshaya will be staged once more at Lumbini Theatre on July 23 and at Lionel Wendt on August 15

(Photo credit: Udeni Alwis)
http://www.nation.lk/2010/07/11/eyefea5.htm

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Makarakshaya - Next Shows

23rd July 2010
on
2.30/6.30 p.m
@
Lumbini Theatre, Havelock Town, Colombo 5.


15th August 2010
on
6.30 p.m.
@
Lionel Wendt Theatre, Colombo7.

Makaraakshaya

By: Bhagya Senaratne
“What is drama but life with the dull bits cut out.”
Alfred Hitchcock



Makaraakshaya (The Dragon), a highly anticipated theatre production was restaged after a lapse of 25 years! Staged recently to a full house at the Lionel Wendt, I, for one, certainly forgot where I was during the entirety of the play.

Recommended by a friend to watch this, I was eager to see what the hype was all about! My enthusiasm was well worth it!

The story is woven around Elisa, an ordinary girl who is soon to be taken away as a bride by the city’s guardian, The Dragon. She is the ‘chosen one’ for the year, The Dragon’s choice, merely because of her beauty. She reluctantly accepts her plight and tries to prepare herself mentally for the unforgettable day. It’s a public secret that, once chosen, a girl will never return. A handsome young worrier, Lancelot, without the shinning armour, walks in to this city. He sees the depression amongst a certain section in society. He wants to help change the plight of young Elisa. The story then moves on to depict the means deployed by Lancelot in his efforts.

What intrigued me most about this play is its relevance to the present times. Besides depicting the plight of a young girl, this play also draws on a number of other important issues. One such is the corruption in governance. This is an issue that is seen in many countries around the world, and an issue that is been pressed to remedy, calling for transparency in governance. Another, is simply power. How this tool is utilised by the one who has access to it, to get their work done and mostly to achieve their selfish goals.

There are certain similarities and also many differences to be seen in this second production that can be mentioned. Dharmasiri Bandaranayake himself is seen acting Lancelot, just like he did, so many years prior to this. Whilst the character of Elisa is played by Yashoda Wimaladarma, in this time’s staging.

I found a note Bandaranayake has written way back in 1985, for the first production of this drama interesting. In this note, he stated that he is staging this drama due to the disgust and sympathy he felt thereafter, towards the people of society in seeing them turning a blind eye to injustice, whilst knowing the truth.

What was most interesting for me, to have observed is that that issues that were relevant to a certain era are over time, relevant to another place and time in history. The issues discussed in this play and the portrayals of character, I feel, are universal.

Directed by Dharmasiri Bandaranayake for the second time, Makaraakshaya known as The Dragon in English is a play written by Soviet playwright Yevgeny Shvarts.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Makarakshaya

http://www.lankadeepa.lk/Section/sandella/06/20/02.htm

Saturday, June 26, 2010


http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_MNurmS0CNwM/TCIZrT_AmAI/AAAAAAAAAfc/UAfYHFTAoK8/s1600/dfsd.jpg

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Living with ‘Dragons and Makarakshas’: Politics of Dharmasiri Bandaranaiyake’s Theatre.

by Athulasiri Kumara Samarakoon
 (The Open University of Sri Lanka / smak918@gmail.com)

I have watched only three plays by veteran director cum actor Dharmasiri Bandaranaiyake; namely Euripides’ ‘Trojan Women’ (Trojan Kanthawo), ‘The Dictator’ (Eka Adipathi) and ‘The Dragon’ (Makarakshaya) (originally by Soviet playwright Yevgeney Shvarts). Of these three, ‘The Dictator’ and ‘The Dragon’ have been reproduced, currently being staged for a new generation of audience, about 3o years younger to the original productions of these plays. Can this re-production, or say, re-contextualization of old plays, still produce a certain appeal in terms of conveying its message (politics) to an audience living in different economic and social conditions, a different historical time?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Kill the dragon within

13-06-2010

Dharmasiri Bandaranayake’s acclaimed play Makarakshaya is to go on the boards once more

By Randima Attygalle

“You see, the human soul is very resilient. Cut the body in half — and the man croaks. But tear the soul apart — and it only becomes more pliable, that’s all. No, really, you couldn’t pick a finer assortment of souls anywhere. Only in my town. Souls with no hands. Souls with no legs. Mute souls, deaf souls, chained souls, snitch souls, damned souls,” says the Dragon in Soviet playwright Yevgeny Shvart’s political satire The Dragon. Aimed at totalitarianism, The Dragon is a subtle dramatisation of truth and illusion, reality and fantasy, finely symbolised by the mythological dragon which terrorises a land of suffering men and women under a despotic rule and brutality beyond imagination. Between the extreme ends of mythology- cruelty juxtaposed with heroism, (latter personified by Lancelot) stands a land of ordinary men and women who are finally salvaged by Lancelot.

Upon witnessing the dramatic charm of Lancelot, of celebrated late dramatist Henry Jayasena’s production of Makara in 1973- an adaptation of The Dragon, none other than Prof. Sarachchandra invited the young hero to grace his celebrated play as Maname Kumaraya. A privilege indeed, yet the handpicked Maname Kumaraya believed he could not do justice to the hallowed role, with his ‘not-so-musical’ timbre! “Thus I quit rehearsals of my own accord,” recalls amused Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, who later stole the show at the State Drama Festival of 1986, bagging 12 coveted awards including Best Drama, Best Translation, Best Direction and Best Music, for his production of Makarakshaya, once again inspired by Shvart’s Dragon.

‘Makarakshaya’ hunting for dragons in humans


By Susitha R. Fernando

The maiden show of the new production of Dharmasiri Bandaranayake’s multi-awarded political satire ‘Makarakshaya’ (The Dragon) will go on the boards at 6.45 pm on June 19 and 20 at the Lionel Wendt, theatre, Colombo.

Staging nearly 900 shows, ‘Makarakshaya’, the Sinhala translation of ‘The Dragon’ written by Soviet playwright Yevgeny Shvarts and translated by Cyril C. Perera won 12 State Awards at the State Drama Festival in 1985 including Best play, Best Director, Best Translation, Best Music, Best Costume Designing, Best Stage Set designing, Best Lighting and Best Choreography. Produced in 1985 the play staged till 1999 to packed audiences around the country.

‘Makarakshya’ is a political satire aimed at totalitarianism in all forms. The plot is based on the attempt of the hero, Lancelot, to liberate people in a land suffering under Dragon’s brutal rule. But his efforts meet with resistance, since most of the people have got used to the Dragon and considered his methods, though harsh, the only possible way; their souls becoming, in a way, crippled with this inability and unwilling to resist.

“Though the play was originally written in 1945 and first produced by late playwright Henry Jayasena in 1973 and then produced by me on a different translation in 1985 in Sri Lanka the message is still applicable to our society,” playwright and actor Dharmasiri Bandaranayake said.

“We find the tyrannical qualities of the leaders are inherent in the very subjects who chose them and the biggest challenge is to destroy these dragons living within the ordinary people who are lazy and shrewd,” the veteran playwright said.

‘This is a fairy tale and with certain changes we have maintained the interesting dramatic effects so that everybody can enjoy,’ he added. One of the main purposes in reproducing ‘Makarakshaya’ is to educate the present theatregoers and students of theatre and drama who had never seen it.

මකරා යළි මතු වෙයි.

මේ මස 19 සහ 20 යන දිනයන්හිදී සවස 6.30 ට ධර්මසිරි බණ්ඩාරනායක ගේ මකරාක්ෂයා නැවතත් වේදිකා ගත වේ. මේ ඔහු සමඟ කළ කතාබහකි.

ඔබේම තවත් පැරණි නාට්‍යයක් නැවත කරළියට එනවා?

ඔව්. පහුගිය කාලයේ මගේ පරණ වේදිකා නාට්‍ය ටික නැවතත් ප්‍රේක්ෂකයන් අතරට ගේන්න ඕනය කියල මම කල්පනා කළා. ඒකේ පළමු පියවර වුණේ ‘ඒකා අධිපති’ වේදිකාවට ගෙන ඒම. මේ ඒකේ දෙවෙනි පියවර. මෙවර මං මගේ මකරාක්ෂයා නැවත නව නිෂ්පාදනයක් හැටියට මේ මාසේ 19 – 20 දිනවලදී ලයනල් වෙන්ට්ඩ් ශාලාවේ වේදිකා ගත කරන්නයි සූදානම් වෙන්නේ.

‘ඒකාධිපති’ නැවත වේදිකාවට ගෙන ඒම සිද්ධ වුණේ මීට මාස කිහිපයකට ඉහත දී. ඒකට ලැබුණු ප්‍රතිචාරයත් ‘මකරා’ නැවත ගෙන ඒමට බලපෑවද?

කනගාටුවෙන් වුණත් කොහෙත්ම නෑ කියලයි කියන්න වෙන්නේ. මොකද ‘ඒකාධිපති’ නැවත වේදිකාවට ගෙන ඒමෙන් කලාකාරයකු හැටියට මම ලබපු අත්දැකීම නම් එතරම් ප්‍රසන්න එකක් නෙවෙයි.

ඇයි ඔබ එහෙම කියන්නේ?

දෙවෙනි අත්දැකීම ගත්තම ලාංකීය සමාජය ගමන් කරලා තියෙන දිශාන්තය කොයිබටද, ඔවුන්ගේ අධ්‍යාත්මය රැඳිලා තියෙන තැන කොතනද කියන එක පිළිබඳව කලාකාරයෙක් විදිහට මම තෘප්තිමත් නෑ.

මේ තත්ත්වය ඔබට අර්බුදයක් හැටියට පේන්නේ ඇයි?

නාට්‍ය ශාලාවකට එන පිරිස සාමන්‍ය ජනයාට වඩා එහාට ගිය පිරිසක් වෙන්න ඕනය කියන එකයි අපේ බලාපොරොත්තුව. නමුත් ලංකාවේ ඊට එහා ගිය මට්ටමක් දැන් නෑ. මේක මම මේ කියන්නේ කේන්තියකින් නෙවෙයි.

මේක අවබෝධ කර ගත යුතු තත්ත්වයක් කියලයි මට හිතෙන්නේ.
නාට්‍යයත් එක්ක නළුවෙකු හැටියටත් සම්බන්ධ වෙන කෙනෙක් හැටියටයි මම මේ ප්‍රකාශය කරන්නේ. නමුත් 70, 80 දශකවල එහෙම තිබුණේ නෑ.

මේ පසුබිමේදීම ඔබ තවත් නාට්‍යයක් කරළියට ගේන්නෙ ඇයි?

1943 අග භාගයේ දී විතර තමයි The Dragan සෝවියට් දේශයේ රචනා වෙන්නේ. රුසියාවේ ට්‍රොස්කිවාදය මුල් බැහැ ගන්න තිබුණු අවස්ථාව මුළුමනින්ම අහුරන්නෙ ස්ටැලින් විසින්.

ලෙනින්ගෙන් පස්සේ ස්ටැලින් කෙනෙක් පහළ වීම කියන කාරණය අදහ ගන්නත් බැරි එකක්. ඒ මොහොතේ ඒ තත්ත්වය අත් විඳි යෙව්ගිනි ෂ්වාස්ට්ස් කලාකරුවා රචනා කළ නාට්‍යය තමයි The Dragan. දීනභාවය, මර්ධනය, කපටිකම, බියගුළුකම, වංචාව වගේ දේවල්වලින් පිරුණු මිනිස් සමාජයක් ගැන තමයි මේකෙන් කතා වෙන්නේ.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sinhala production of "The Dragon"

‘MAKARAKSHAYA’
(The Dragon)
Directed by
Dharmasiri Bandaranayake -1985

Won 12 State Awards from State Drama Festival 1985

including Best play in 1985,
Best Director,
Best Translation,
Best Music,
Best Costume Designing,
Best Stage Set designing,
Best Lighting,
Best Choreography,

The play 'Makarakshaya' has been staged 884 times
all around the country from from 1985 to 1999


New Sinhala Production of ‘Makarakshya’
(The Dragon) – 2010

Cast
Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, Yashoda Wimaladharma,
Dharmapriya Dias, Janaka Kumbukage,
Luxman Mendis, Priyantha Sirikumara,
Chulla Jayawardhana, Gamini Wijesinghe, Leonard Cooray,
Warnathunga Senanayake, Jagath Muthukumarana,
Oshadee Gunasekera, Vathsala Ranasinghe,
Dulanjalee Shankalya, Niluka Rajamanthree,
Arunod Wijesinghe, Amila Gal Anga, and others…
Choreography
Jehan Aloysius

Make up
Wasantha Vittachchi
Stage Managers
Priyantha Prabhash
Susanga Kahandawaarachchi,
Translated by
Cyril C Perera
Directed by
Dharmasiri Bandaranayake

Yevgeny Shvarts

Life of Yevgeny Shvarts

Yevgeny Shvarts was born in Kazan in 1896 into a physician's family. His father was Jewish, his mother Russian. At the end of the 1910s he studied law at Moscow State University, but was drafted into the army in the spring of 1917. He served in the White regiment of general Kornilov, and suffered shell-shock during the storming of Yekaterinodar in 1918. As a result of this he lost several teeth and acquired a tremor of the hands that plagued him for the rest of his life.

In 1919 decided to devote his life to dramatic art and literature. From 1924 on he lived in Leningrad and worked in Gosizdat under the guidance of Samuil Marshak; during that time he also became close with members of the avant-garde literary group OBERIU.

In 1929 Shvarts began writing plays, the best known of which are the modern retellings of fairy tales: «Golyi korol'» ("The Emperor's New Clothes") (1934), «Krasnaya Shapochka» ("Little Red Riding Hood") (1936), «Zolushka» ("Cinderella") (1938), «Snezhnaya Koroleva» ("The Snow Queen", after Hans Christian Andersen) (1938), «Tyen'» ("The Shadow", after Hans Christian Andersen) (1940), «Drakon» ("The Dragon", an original) (1944), and «Obyknovennoye Chudo» ("An Ordinary Miracle") (1956). Most of these plays were subsequently turned into films, sometimes more than once.

“The Dragon”

This play, the most "adult" of Shvarts' plays, is a political satire aimed at totalitarianism in all forms. The plot is based on the attempt of the hero, Lancelot, to liberate people in a land suffering under Dragon's brutal rule. But his efforts meet with resistance, since most of the people have gotten used to the Dragon and considered his methods, though harsh, the only possible way; their souls become, in a way, crippled with this inability and unwillingness to resist. Says the Dragon in the play: "You see, the human soul is very resilient. Cut the body in half — and the man croaks. But tear the soul apart — and it only becomes more pliable, that's all. No, really, you couldn't pick a finer assortment of souls anywhere. Only in my town. Souls with no hands. Souls with no legs. Mute souls, deaf souls, chained souls, snitch souls, damned souls."

Lancelot killing the Dragon in a fight did not free the people; all that changed was the Burgomaster acceding to the position formerly occupied by the Dragon and demanding that Elsa, the same girl who was destined to be sacrificed to the Dragon, become his wife. When Lancelot returns to the town a year later, he realizes that his task is much more complex: "This is going to be a very meticulous job... We have to kill the dragon in each one of them."

Famous Quotations
from "The Dragon"

Heinrich: "It's not my fault, I was taught that way."
Lancelot: "Everyone was, but why did you have to be first in class?"

Monday, May 31, 2010

MAKARAKSHAYA BACK ON SRI LANKAN STAGE

"MAKARAKSHAYA"

Sinhala Translation of "The Dragon"

Written by
Soviet playwright Yevgeny Shvarts

Translated by
Cyril C. Perera

Directed by
Dharmasiri Bandaranayake

Stage on
19th & 20th June, 2010

@
Lionel Wendt Theatre, Colombo 7.