Theatre caught red-handed! | Daily News


Theatre caught red-handed!

A scintillating performance by Arasi Vickneswaran as Nora in the 19th-century classic Norwegian play,’ A Doll’s House’ translated from English into Tamil and directed professionally was captured in video format was shown at Tharangani Cinema Hall in Colombo last Saturday to a captive audience of a largely invited audience. The Director was P.Wikneswaran, a Lanka born Canadian who lives there for the last 30 years or so.

My impressions of the play is primarily on the performance than on Ibsen’s creative drama that shook Western Europe, as perhaps the first women’s liberation play when Nora, the main character shut the door with a bang, leaving her husband and three children, leaving her home in search of establishing her individuality and freedom of her choice because she had lived with a husband who showed love to her pretentiously and patronizing his wife as a doll, which she an educated, lively woman whose talents or individual traits were not recognized. It is a sort of psychological drama and effective as a fine theatre.

Coming back to the Tamil play as a theatre, we must know something about the play’s director and the Tamil theatre in Lanka, which was flourishing in the 1970s.

Who is P.Wikneswaran? I extract from the programme note:

“He was involved in theatre activities as early as a student in the late 1960s. From 1970 he worked for the SLBC as a program production assistant and produced many radio plays which were appreciated by Tamil listeners.

In 1981 he won the first place in a film writing competition organized by the State Film Corporation. And his award-winning play was published in 1990.

When Rupavahini came into existence in 1982, he joined the TV station, he was the pioneer producer and produced many plays with a difference and also many cultural programmes for the TV.

In 1991, he moved to Toronto in Canada. Since then he has produced five plays and one of them was produced for Manaveli Performing Arts Group in Canada.

His first translated play was Eugene Ionesco’s “The Chairs”, this script is published in a book form.

When educated people, inspired by the quality of Sinhala theatre, began to take interest in staging good theatre in Tamil in the 1970s.

When the veteran Civil Servant of those days Vernon Abesekera served as a Government Agent in Yaalpaanam, he undertook to produce Ibsen’s ”A Doll’s House” translated by Yaalpaanam Thevan and produced in Yaalpaanam.

Wikneswaran’s translation is exquisite in ordinary simple Tamil spoke with a slight Yaalpaanam accent. The crucial incidents and conflicting dialogue are worked out appropriately. He has not left out anything and is a complete translation n an acceptable manner.

Now, we come to the play in performance. This three-act play running to nearly more than two hours were listened and watched by the audience patiently and seriously in silence. The audience consisted of many knowledgeable media and theatre personalities. I was happy to see Lucien Bulathsinhala and Parakrama Niriella among the spectators.

The setting was moderate and the costumes befitted the times of the 19th century. The movements on the stage were measured and the voice production and enunciation were not annoying.

The last scene was tensed and emotive argument between the husband and wife made the end exciting.

Arasi Vikneswaran, a talented young actress is incidentally the daughter of SK Wignewaran of ’ Sari Nihar’ fame and Avvai, the poet and niece of Cheran, the academic ad poet in Canada.

I was happy to see Kurumbaciddy Rasararatnam as Dr.Rank. He was an actor and playwright in Colombo in the 1960s. Contrary to his jovial character in Colombo stage, he was a downhearted serious role he took.

S.T.Senthinathan played his role appreciatively. He is a prominent figure in Toronto, we understand.

Jeyaprakas Jegavan is also a great figure in Canadian art circle we come to know. He played the role of the husband admirably

The other three ladies are very popular in Canadian theatre film and other media. They are Bhavany Sathiyaseelan, Malini Pararahjasingham and Kavitha Uthayakumar who took minor roles in the play and performed well.

The direction by Wikneswaran shows he has mastered the stagecraft

One should also mention the highly professional shooting of the stage play into a video format.

I met many radio, theatre, film personalities at the venue and ageing I was, found it difficult in the air-conditioned theatre to sit through though enjoyed, and had to slip on the marble floor. Luckily I was not hurt. Thanks to Ravindran who took care of me and brought me home. All ends well.

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