Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Kalumaali - The triumphant feat in Sri Lankan English Theater

In my opinion, Kalumaali was the best thing that ever happened to Sri Lankan English language theater. I based this opinion on few factors. One of such factors is that how Ruwanthie D’Chickera shrewdly brought the theme to the reality by the innovative stage usage and brilliantly crafted script. Even she had the luxury of going through the manuscript they prepared with the help of 13 female dramatists in different social strata in her disposal, the language and the content which was inspired by the myriad of present day sociopolitical “dramas” going in Sri Lankan society  surely kept the audience intact and enlightened throughout the drama. Another aspect of Kalumaali which I liked is that it lacked the pretentious melodramatic elements which was amply visible in most of other contemporary English language theater productions in Colombo. It intentionally went away from common roots of fantasy, fables or comedy yet kept the aspects of all those to stress the protagonist’s dilemma of keeping her dreams and family-life alive and intact.

The performance of Lakmini Seneviratne who portrayed the protagonist mother (Dil) of the drama was highly commendable. She was prolific in her delivery, emotions and managed to keep the audience engaged in the plot. The character of the daughter as well as husband’s mother which was portrayed by seasoned Kaushalya Fernando came really well and completed the drama with their subtle satire and few thought-provoking instances. The husband’s role  which was portrayed by a different actor (because of the possible unavailability of the originally cast Peter D’ Almeida) became the only disappointment of the night due to the awkward pauses in his dialogue delivery on several occasions and slight rigidness in his acting. Lack of preparation and rehearsal time might have been the case. Apart from that all the other cast including the character of Dil’s mother; Film Achchi and even backstage crew managed to do the justice for the script in their level best. The background score also added the extra color to the drama on stage but it was downplayed a bit because of the spectators minds were glued to the amazing performance and the story.

If I dig deeper in to the core theme of the drama, as the writers of the drama saw it (which I think), it’s simply the loss of control and ambition among women due to the pressures of current masculine dominated sociopolitical structure of this country. But as a male member of this society, as a guilty party on this phenomenon (without a doubt consciously or subconsciously) I never seen a drama which stresses on the male point of view on this topic on Sri Lankan stage. All the dramas regarding this topic which I have seen in both English as well as Sinhala language (which are directed by mostly males) also depicted the story only from the women’s point of view. But in my theory most of us in these Asian region are raised by women, loved by women and our lives are entirely spent with some form of strong connection with women. So this phenomenon or this issue of feminism should be brought up within women themselves because they play a major part in reforming the entire society to the current state. Kalumaali achieved this for some extent with the help of characters such as Film Achchi, Gedara Achchi and Saki. But I would love to see a different approach or dialogue between male characters; Kalana and the stranger to see the male point of view on this topic rather than portrayal the stereotypical male behavior in the current society. Because of this reason I personally think that engagement of the male audiences with the core theme is somewhat weakened because they were more connected with satiric representation of their everyday role which is recurrent on Sri Lankan Theater

Anyway on an ending note, I would recommend Kalumaali as a thought-provoking novel theater experience specially for the English theater and if you are not seen it already, please grab a ticket when the next show is on because it’s much, much more than worth of the money and time you spend.

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