From baby steps to giant strides | Daily News

From baby steps to giant strides

Members of the Drama Club. Pictures by Thushara Fernando
Members of the Drama Club. Pictures by Thushara Fernando

[Achievements]

Shakespeare drama comp (YMCA) – Winner 1997

Runners up 1999

Inter house drama comp

– 2005, 2008, 2011

Holy Family Convent has the brains when it comes to drama. The girls are in the process of reviving drama at the Inter-House and Inter-school level. The outfit holds great promise as a team in transition. Dramatic Moves features the girls of HFC who certainly have what it takes to win the hearts and minds of Sri Lanka.

Enhancing many aspects

“English drama has to a great extent always functioned under the English Literary Union of the school. However theatre productions have been produced by one of the main language unions of the school. In 2014 there was a big production by the English Union ‘You’ve got it pussy cat.’ Before this there have been large scale productions by Holy Family Convent.

We haven’t taken part in inter-school competitions for some time and we have revived the inter-house drama competition this year after a lull of six years. However drama has not been completely out of the school system as each year the language unions have been putting on a big show.

I am a firm believer that kids need to be exposed to drama and theatre. Kids need an avenue for creative expression and this is possible through drama and theatre. Theatre and drama is an essential component in a school as it enhances many aspects of a student and at HFC we are very focused on sending out girls with well-rounded personalities who are able to make a mark in society.

Many of the times HFC did take part in Interschool competitions in the past years, we have got into the finals and ended up winning or achieving runners up position. Especially in the year 2011 our cast and crew won many awards including the champion trophy at the State Shakespeare Competition.

Through the inter house drama competition this year, which is scheduled for September this year, we are hoping to bring out not only the acting abilities of our girls but we are also focused on bringing out the hidden talents of our students in the areas of directing, costume designing, make up, music and lighting. All aspects of the house dramas will be done by the girls themselves with very little intervention by adults.

Adults merely supervise and provide guidance only when necessary. We have been preparing for this competition since April with workshops headed by well- known theatre people in the Sri Lankan English drama scene. Jerome De Silva was the first, followed by Feroze Kamardeen, Rapti Fernando, Jeremiah James and the directors were given a workshop on aspects of directing by Tracy Holsinger. We of course cannot forget our very own Samantha de S Wijeratne, who has been our strength in all factors of drama in school. The initiation of the Performing Arts Club at school was under her guidance as well as another past pupil Minelle Ferdinandis. We cannot forget the administration headed by our very own principal Rev. Sr Deepa Fernando who is a constant source of inspiration to us. It is with her fullest support and cooperation that we are able to take drama forward in the school.

We are taking baby steps but I am certain that in a couple of years HFC will once again be in the forefront of inter school drama. That is my wish and dream for my alma mater,” said Co -Teacher in Charge Sherika Fernando.

Fascinating

Director of Ambrose Roshella Samarasinghe admits that drama is a unique love of hers.

“For the past few years in drama, HFC has not been in competitions, though we've had the public production – ‘you’ve got it pussy cat.’ And regarding an interschool drama competitions, we have been unable to participate. So far in my eyes our most outstanding performance has been the "You've got it, pussy cat" musical. Reviving drama at HFC is one thing I will see done before I leave school as it is something I have been passionate from the moment I've entered these gates,” said Samarasinghe.

Samarasinghe loves drama because of the sense of freedom she receives expressing herself.

“It is a unique love of mine. It's a way of expressing yourself through the expressions of another, a way of bringing to life what was written down on paper and a way of combining the different talents in people to create a masterpiece,” explains Samarasinghe.

Each dramatist is unique and they each hold a unique talent.

“It's this rainbow of individuality that takes a good production and makes it a super production. It's not a matter of combination or even compensation, but rather a matter of portraying each dramatist's power like a colorful tile in a mosaic that creates a masterpiece,” elucidated Samarasinghe.

Samarasinghe is a strong believer that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

“The little challenges I have faced throughout my years in this school, even though they seemed invincible at first, now look trivial now that I've overcome them. All it takes is believing in yourself and an allergy to the idea of quitting,” added Samarasinghe.

Samarasinghe concedes that drama is something which is a big part in the school life of any Familian.

“It is an activity that welcomes everyone from all backgrounds. Also I would really love to see HFC take home the inter school drama competition trophies like we used to,” said Samarasinghe.

As mentioned before the brains are there at HFC.

“Training our girls will not be an arduous task since they're so talented. Half of my job as director is complete.

When playing a character of depth, all I can say is research. One playing such a character must be able to step into their shoes completely and assess situations from their point of view even to the extent of living life like them while on stage. Unlike impersonation and imitation, what sets acting apart from other skills is how you as person, if you were born into that character's particular time period or place, and if you experienced the things the character has experienced, would react. It's the combination of the personalities of the character and the performer that gives rise to an amazing actor,” explained Samarasinghe.

Samarasinghe is fascinated by drama.

“Drama is something very close to my heart. My favourite part about it, is the fact that you can live many lives in one. What's beautiful about it is, how you can radiate your emotions through the words of another, I find it absolutely incredible,” shared Samarasinghe.

“Nothing is perfect and even a production consisting of an impeccable cast and crew will lack some aspect of producing what the playwright had in mind. Nevertheless we hope to make Oscar Wilde proud. We as a school are really excited in making this a reality, we as a house are extremely enthusiastic and looking forward to creating a brilliant play, and I, as a director, am honored in being a part of it all,” said Samarasinghe.

 A great joy

Director of Carmel House, Malithi Kulathunga said,“During the years HFC has done dramas in all three languages - Sinhala, English and Tamil. The last time we took part in an inter-house was in 2011, and ever since then we have given more attention to school productions. In my opinion the school production that was done in 2014 "You got it Pussy Cat"was the best so far. Drama is not all about showing your talent but it’s about teamwork, bonds between cast and crew and also about commitment. As a young girl it's extremely important to have these values.

When talking about the unique strengths of our dramatists I feel that it is a combination of unique personalities makes it more interesting to work with them. The differences among all of us is what binds all of us together as a family, as Familians,” explained Kulathunga.

Kulathunga firmly believes that drama in HFC will be better than ever with all the guidance they receive from everyone.

“Drama means being part of a world that people think that they can't become a part of. I find it adventurous and I also take great joy in being a part of it. The girls are united which is an advantage, but they speak for themselves when they show their dedication,” said Kulathunga.

 

Establishing a name

Director of Sebastian House Sheneli Jayasundara said that the eagerness to win is certainly there. “Our drama club functions under the English Union. Our girls are very enthusiastic, excited and talented when it comes to drama. In the past where I can remember dating back to 2010 /2011 HFC had a theatre circle which was functioning really well.

In the theatre circle our girls organized and took part in inter house drama competitions which were totally handled by our girls from script writing, to lights and sounds, to props and costume designing.

Back then we took part in Inter-house Shakespeare competitions as well. But after that for quite a few years, the theatre circle died down and our girls didn't have a platform to showcase their skills. Then in 2014 the excitement was restored with the production of the musical ‘You’ve got it Pussy cat’ directed by Jith Peiris. The following years we had productions in both Sinhalese and Tamil. And this year we're back with an inter house drama competition,” said Jayasundara.

Jayasundara also commented that it would be their greatest pleasure to see the girls establish a name in the field of performing arts and drama.

Drama is important in the life of a student because it will not only help us upgrade our talents but it will also teach us to work together, to compromise, to commit ourselves to whatever we do, to work on time and many more. These are things that we would never learn sitting in a class room. Drama will teach us values that would last a lifetime. Combining all their strengths will help cover up the weaknesses and understanding their capabilities and helping them to be themselves on stage and seeing the stage and the play through their eyes and sense will lead us to a successful production,” pointed out Jayasundara.

All actresses are different in their skills and physical abilities.

“I believe that it wouldn't be that hard to groom and train our girls since I know for a fact that they will assist me and give their fullest cooperation. There will be teachers in charge and a guide so it won't be that difficult to handle the cast. I'd love to see our girls doing massive productions or perhaps get back to the stage of Shakespeare competitions,” added Jayasundara.

 An added advantage

Director of Suzanne House Shania Perera is confident that HFC will come back bigger and stronger.

“During the past few years HFC has embraced drama in Sinhalese, Tamil and English languages. Diversity in HFC plays a big part and we love that aspect embedded in our school. The last time we took part in inter school drama was in 2011 and since then we've paid more attention to school based productions. We are confident that we will be ready to get back out there very soon.

In my opinion the inter house drama competition held not very long ago was very successful, and it definitely is a pity that the public did not get to witness that, but the productions after that made up for it,” said Perera.

Drama isn't just showcasing your talents, it's about teamwork, coordination, bonds between the cast and crew, hard work and commitment combined.

“As a student it is extremely important to have these aspects and it's not only as a student but also as a young woman.

Our girls are dedicated, strong, funny, with serious personalities and a drive to strive for the best. The variety of personalities make it interesting to work with. Each and every one of them have unique characters with all these differences is more than enough to achieve a super production,” explained Perera. As house directors, Perera and her fellow directors are still underway in the training department and they are excited and nervous at the same time.

“Drama in HFC will be bigger and better than ever. With the current guidance and knowledge we receive from all sources, it will improve with time.

When stepping into the skin of complicated characters, I think the best way to do so, is advice the girls to think the way people from the early centuries did. There are differences in eras and every aspect is important. They need to observe and research on everything that links to the character they portray,” advised Perera.

Perera feels that drama means a lot to her.

“I would love to make a career out of it. And I just find great joy in acting and being a part of this. The girls speak for themselves when they show their level of commitment and dedication. The girls bond together very well which is an added advantage.

The previous productions gave us a pretty good view on how we should handle the cast and crew. Also with the advice we received from the teachers and external parties have been very helpful. Teamwork means a great deal when it comes to production. So we'll have to wait and see how everything turns out,” clarified Perera.

 


 

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