Dreaming big on stage | Daily News

Dreaming big on stage

Cue Theatre is a group formed with people who love theatre and have an amazing passion for theatre. This passion binds them together and this incredible love for theatre has given their lives meaning and purpose. Dramatic Moves features Cue Theatre a group of thespians who believe in something bigger than themselves. Pictures by Thushara Fernando

Dramatist Chavinka Nanayakkara

She has been interested in drama since childhood. For her the entire process is magical and the rush of being on stage, and when the light hits your face, is an amazing experience.

“Of course doing drama has made me more forward because I was quite a shy child. My favourite character is Emily in ‘Our Town’.

It was a very challenging role for me. Emily was a normal girl, growing up, meeting a boy and then getting married and having kids. It is about her just going through life. So it was a pretty basic story.

The Count of Monte Cristo was definitely my favourite drama. There was a lot of song and dancing and it was a big production. I want to do my best for Cue.

I hope to be with Cue as long as I can,” said Nanayakkara.

Dramatist Kasun Liyanage

He says that being with Cue Theatre has really given him a lot of self- confidence and it has helped him better understand people.

“Giving life to another character is not easy. It takes time and it takes patience and you need to make many sacrifices. You have to be at it constantly. And of course there are challenges that come with it. My favourite play is the ‘Count of Monte Cristo’. I played the part of the priest Abbe Faria. I did Sinhala drama at school, and came to Cue theatre through a friend of mine. I fitted in really well and have made lasting friendships,” Liyanage said.

Founder and Artistic Director of Cue Theatre Ranga Jayaratne

She calls Cue Theatre, a bunch of people who love and have a lot of passion for drama, who come together and just do what they want to do.

Some of their productions are ‘The Man and a Monster’ (a musical adaptation of the Hunchback of Notre Dame in 2012), ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ (A musical in 2014) and Eurydice (by Sarah Ruhl in 2017). These productions clearly indicate that the dramatists of cue theatre are extremely versatile.

They show much promise and have tremendous potential. Their production ‘The Man and a Monster’ the story of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, is the tale of a tortured man Quasimodo who is shunned by society and reviled, yet who is so gentle and full of pain. The Count of Monte Cristo is the loss of innocence and the beginning of cynicism.

Edmond Dantes takes his revenge on those who took everything away from him. As the Count he masterfully shatters the lives of those who destroyed his youth, hopes, dreams and his future with his bride Mercedes and his relationship with his father who died of extreme poverty.

These two productions show that Cue Theatre is able to adapt to any theme and challenge. “We just want to do the best.

The reason I do Drama is because I love it. It is because of the rush it gives me when I see people on stage. When I see them from the stage, the feeling is wonderful. The joy of rehearsing so hard and giving so much, and the excitement you get when you are out there with the lighting is awesome. We are like a second family,” Jayaratne said.

Jayaratne says that balancing work, family and practices is not easy but everything falls into place because of the devotion and love for Cue Theatre.

“We do it for the love of it. Moneywise it may not be very profitable. If you don’t love doing drama, then there is no point in doing it. We cancel dinners, parties, birthdays and struggle with work and exams when we do drama,” stated Jayaratne. Jayaratne points out that they are a different a group.

They understand each other very well and everyone is a part of Cue because they love doing it although not everyone has the capacity to stay up late hours and in the early hours of the morning.

“So at Cue theatre we like to stick to three hours. We start around 7 pm to 8 pm and finish before 10 pm, so in that way we all have means of getting back home as traveling late night is not ideal as there are safety issues.

When doing a drama, we pick a play after going through several options and buy the license and pay royalty,” added Jayaratne

Jayaratne also pointed out that through Cue Theatre she wants to spread the love of theatre. She loves every production of hers, because every story, every play and every musical is different and beautiful in its own way.

“Hunchback was a beautiful story. That was our first production as a small team and most of us were new when it came to putting together a production. Count of Monte Cristo was a huge musical. It has a lot of set movements, a lot of props and costume changes.

There was so much going on. Then there was ‘Our Town’ which was a minimalist play. There were no stage sets and there were no props. Then there was Eurydice which was based on a Greek myth. That was an outdoor play and two hours before the show it rained heavily but still we managed to pull it off.

Every production has been different. The Count of Monte Cristo was very challenging for the actors and backstage and we really felt it,” explained Jayaratne. “Eurydice, was a script written by Sarah Ruhl based on the Greek Myth. Those who are familiar with the Greek Myths know that Hades is one of the powerful three along with Zeus and Poseidon.

According to Sarah Ruhl’s script, Hades can change form, so when he meets Eurydice in the living world he is depicted as a normal man.

But when she dies and descends to the underworld, he appears as a child. So the story is a little different, the plot is retold in a slightly more imaginary sense,” she added.

Dramatist Chathuranga Gunathilleke

He started acting with Jayaratne and has really matured as an actor. He points out that drama has changed him as a person. It has helped him understand people and be more compassionate.

“The reason I do drama is because I enjoy being on stage. The whole experience is something I enjoy. When balancing work life and family and other obligations, you somehow make everything fall in place and somehow we manage and it comes together. I would love to share what I have learnt and experienced in drama, so that others can enjoy it. I acted as the Hunchback who is deformed yet human at heart. Emotionally it was very challenging.

When portraying such complex emotions, it is hard initially but once you get used to it, portraying those emotions is not that hard, and when I understood my character it came naturally,” said Gunathilleke.

Dramatist Jaan Fernando

He came to Cue theatre through a friend of his who was a pupil of Jayaratne. They were looking for new people to join the cast of ‘Man and a Monster’. Since the first audition, he has been with Cue theatre ever since.

“Doing drama sessions with Cue Theatre is very relaxing. It is almost like my second family and we always like to be with each other. I keep coming back because of the people. Drama is just my passion and I love doing it and have fun on stage. I love being out there. Doing drama has helped me build my character and it has helped me to be focused. We have learnt a lot from each other.

The Count of Monte Cristo is one of my favourite plays. I played the Count that year. It was a very taxing role. I was on stage 90 per cent of the time, and there was a lot happening. The change of roles from a young Edmond Dantes to the Count was challenging,” said Fernando.

Fernando feels that the best is yet to come for Cue. They have grown as a company and they all want the best for cue. They have certainly come a long way.



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