Coming full circle | Daily News

Coming full circle

Trainer  Lihan Mendis
Trainer Lihan Mendis

S. Thomas’ Preparatory is a school where the boys have all the right instincts. They have the desire and they are dedicated. Though the boys may not have enough experience at the moment they are guided by some of the best in the industry. Dramatic Moves features S. Thomas’ Preparatory, a school that is fired up and ready to show their true colours in the arena of drama.

These boys are like brothers to Trainer, Lihan Mendis, who has been working with these boys for 10 months. During those 10 months they have watched plays and had discourses. Mendis is excited in this role because no doubt he senses the great potential in these boys.

“Finally drama at Preparatory is something that is done regularly. Generally what happens is there are a group of boys who come together and do drama for the senior concert. That was the form when I was an old boy at Preparatory six years ago. There was no drama circle or society as such. So this year we have decided we will get together and have more regular sessions. The latest is that there are boys who come in every week. They will move onto the regular sessions next year and they will become part of a larger society. The latest is that we are going to organize it in such a way that it becomes a society and an official extra- curricular activity,” said Mendis.

The Co-Director is Sulochana Dissanayake and what she teaches the boys is using drama as a medium for reconciliation and a medium for empathy and to hone in on emotion and experience to cultivate the skills. But Mendis primarily focuses mainly performing and developing their acting skills.

“These boys do not have much acting experience. I have been working here for 10 months now and I have been making this fun. We have just gone and watched plays. We are mainly focusing on the fundamentals at this stage,” stated Mendis.

Next year the group hopes to take part in the YMCA competitions, Interact Drama Competition and the State Childrens’ Drama Festival. That is the focus next year.

“In 2015 we performed an extract of the Taming of the Shrew at the YMCA competition. In that scenario it was a group of boys who came together. We have also won the best novice school in a competition. We have also taken part in Interact Drama Competition organized by Royal College.

Drama has made these boys more focused in their lives. They enjoy doing drama and even working back stage. So these are signs that they are committed to what they are doing.

“In these 10 months, yes I have seen them become more resourceful. By guiding these students I have learnt patience because you are working under time constraints. These boys are like my brothers,” pointed out Mendis.

Co-Director, Sulochana Dissanayake said that the power of expression is inculcated in these students giving them the ability to properly and confidently articulate their ideas and concepts.

“Drama is invaluable in developing communication skills in students which is vital for success in any chosen field. In theatre and in life, there are no ‘one man shows’ - even solo performances are supported by a myriad of individuals who work tirelessly as a team to deliver what we see on stage. So learning to work together, express an idea dynamically and see something through to completion- all of this is invaluable in growing up to be a human with empathy and kindness. So in my eyes, drama is of equal importance as Maths and Science for children to grow in to healthy adults,” said Dissanayake.

More humorous

Dramatist Vinuka Rajapaksa has seen Singhabahu, Naribana and My Fair Lady. He also dreams of performing Simba in Lion King. Lion King! Who can forget the comedy and tragedy of the tale! Mufasa’s death at the hands of Scar and when Simba finally becomes his father’s son by regaining his rightful throne! It is a story of love, friendship and betrayal.

“I think I liked My Fair Lady the most and I had a better understanding of it. My Fair Lady was more humorous than Singhabahu but I think Naribana was more humorous. I have also played the role of Baloo the bear in the Jungle Book. I was very young at that time. And I was too young to be nervous. Overall the play was okay. I remember I had lot of fun because all the main characters were my best friends. I would really like to play the character of Simba in the Lion King!,” said Rajapaksa

Rajapaksa pointed out that sometimes you have to change your personality and that helps you in the long run. He feels himself when he acts. He pointed out that he likes musicals.

A different personality

Dramatist Janith Dassanayake said that the Sinhala play Kavuda Weeraya really made him interested. It explores the life of a hero. That was amazing he says. It was a bit of a dark play.

“Even though there is a difference between films and stage plays, I would really like to play the role of the joker in Batman actually! I would definitely like to play the character of Macbeth because of its dark themes. Definitely drama has given me a sense freedom because I can express myself.

One of my favourite actors is Johnny Depp. He has played so many characters and every character has a different personality. My favourite character is Captain Jack Sparrow! He is so interesting, that has helped me when I take up roles for stage plays because Jack Sparrow basically improvises and does not really plan at the beginning. Johnny Depp is such a good actor. He can portray any emotion,” explained Dassanayake.

Favourite play

From what dramatist Dunith Gunasekerasaid drama is a sacred thing when it comes to drama at S. Thomas’ Preparatory. Everything is kept confidential in the group. What is said within the group is not revealed to anyone out of the group. He also pointed out that his favourite play is the Taming of the Shrew where incidentally he performed. He felt the irony and the jokes and puns really improved the quality of the play. Gunasekera definitely rates the character of Romeo has his favourite Shakespearean character.

“Through drama sessions you get to express yourselves. All the pressure that you may have built up is just released. We call ourselves a circle of respect. When someone is talking the rest are quiet and everything that is said within the circle is kept within the circle. It is a great place to find yourself,” said Gunasekera.

He pointed out that drama helps you to realize who you truly are and no one can take that away from you that experience.

An interesting character

Interestingly enough dramatist Sandadev Liyanage’sfavourite play is a Sinhala one. It was held by the University of Visual Performing Arts.

“It was very political and I did not really understand some parts but I enjoyed it. I watched Hamlet on youtube but then the quality was not that good. So that is the only Shakespearean play I have watched so far. I have acted only in one play in the senior concert. In that I played the role of a boy who was interested in this girl. That was an interesting character. I also watched My Fair Lady at the Lionel Wendt. That was also very nice. You certainly did not feel the time passing! The best part I liked was the singing. Jerome did the play well I think. The lady who played Eliza did it really well. The story line was really great. Rag was another play I enjoyed which was an intake on the whole university experience,” said Liyanage.

Liyange pointed out that drama is one of the most favourite things he does in school. He mentioned that drama has helped him to open up to others.

Improvisation

Dramatist Umar Rasheed, also said that he is a great fan of My Fair Lady, because of the vocal talents of the actors. That he says was really amazing.

“Also I liked the play because of the improvisation. I once played the role of a boy who was not very confident. He dreamt of being confident and growing up to becoming a person admired by everyone. And that really connected with me. The name of the play was Reflections and the boy was Aneek. It was a school production,” sad Rasheed.

Rasheed said that after Pusswedilla, My First Lady was the best play he ever watched.

“To portray a bond between two characters, in real life we need to bond. We should be good friends with a mutual understanding between both of us. When something goes wrong we should improvise. First I need to understand my role, and through practice and with the help of my trainer I can get into the shoes of the character. Pusswedilla play focuses on the politics of the country in a very humorous manner. It also shows what problems our country has had in the previous regime and it opens our eyes to what is happening in the country,” said Rasheed.

Makes life easier

Dramatist Eransha Fernando said that he is a great fan of Rag the musical. It touches on themes relevant to societies.

“I have good memories of acting in school concerts. My recent role is one that is romantic and one that is really interesting. I was a love expert and advised people on love relationships. I like to play hilarious characters where I can amuse the audience, comedies. Drama is my escape and my passion and I am really good at it because I can make people laugh. Drama makes life easier,” said Fernando. 

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