Most of the theater-goers in Sri Lanka have not gained the experience of watching the same drama in both Sinhala and English. Yet playwright and drama directress Ruwanthie de Chickera has been successful in presenting “Kalumaali”; a fairytale for grownups in both Sinhala and English without tarnishing the luster of the plot and the scene line-up. Her talent lies underneath the fact that she has been able to present the performances in a successive line-up one after another as English and Sinhala productions. The script itself is highly innovative and new to the Sri Lankan theater and the presentation had it’s own unique aspects to which the applause of the audience was often won.
The language fusion might have been altered in some parts of the drama as many of the dialogues are carried out regarding domestic life and matters. The playwright’s main focus has been on the theme of parenting in the modern time. The family is the locus of every day activities. The seven year old girl in the drama named Saki has an admiration to a fairy tale to which she occasionally refers to. Beneath the childish fairy-tale complex realities and truths about lives of the adults are brought out which lets the audience to arrive in their own judgments mainly resting upon the fact that bringing up children in the modern day is in turmoil and that it’s such a complex task. How the lives of men and women are bound by responsibilities and duties is ironically brought out in a very brilliant way owing to magnificent stage-craft of the dramatist.
The role played by Iranganie Serasinghe was praised by many and being a talented actress of whom we all know well of her acting became one of the major attractions in the drama. Lakmini Seneviratne as Dil plays a major role portraying the life of a woman who has give up many things in her life, even the freedom which she enjoyed while being a journalist as she confines herself in the responsibilities of motherhood.
I found the beginning of the drama a bit boring and felt like the play dragged on at lazy intervals for some time. But it was soon replaced by good dialogues and as soon as the story was put in place in the mind of the audience it no longer became boring to watch. In my opinion the content of the play appears more than it seems to be. There is a story to think about beneath the story presented to us through the drama. There are instances to ponder about the movements of the characters and the things they utter. What is caught up from the eye of the audience and heard through their ears should be weighed upon and pondered about through the intelligence. The playwright has been able to reach out to the mind of the audience not only to their hearts. As an appreciator of theatrical performances I find this play as the first key in the opening of a new era of drama which as Sri Lankans we have never experienced before. Her dramas leave us with questions to think about. After watching the play I felt myself surrounded by thousands of new questions on life and matters connected with the way people live in the world just as after studying a drama by Chekhov or Lorca. The drama has extended beyond what is normally staged in our country.
Although there are “fairy-tale” elements in the story related to the seven year old Saki, the story extend up to much deeper analysis. This is one reason why the drama becomes more interesting while capturing the hearts and minds of the audience. The view of the playwright has been entirely woven around the fact that freedom of the woman has been lost owing to the restrictions forced on her by the society. This theme was highlighted by many major dramatists in Europe and American theater but employing different techniques and twists. I think that they are more direct in their portrayals while leaving the audience stunned only through action and more often melo-dramatic effects. Whereas Ruwanthie de Chickera has attempted to present a universal message using more of dialogues and less of action reaching out to the mind of the audience rather than treating them as mere spectators.
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