Our Track Records
Janakaraliya Drama and Theatre Institute
Janakaraliya was formed on the 27th March 2002 (Registered in 2003); World Drama Day, born out of its desire to develop and promote Sri Lankans' first ever multi cultural theatre group that travels across the country in a Mobile theatre. The Janakaraliya team activities were designed to be multi-cultural and bilingual from the very inception, a cardinal rule applied with dedication in all their creative work. Young people from all parts of the country and communities were brought together and trained in all aspects of performing art and social articulation to work in a multi-cultural environment. This approach was selected to first to prove to the audience that even multi religious communities with 02 different languages could work and create on their own without any personal or group inhibitions. Second was to bring together such groups to live a multicultural life on and off stage and third and finally to provide an opportunity to different youth from different areas to work together.
The Janakaraliya multi-ethnic theatre group of 25, travel throughout Sri Lanka performing dramas, conducting educational programmes for school children, youth, budding dramatists and communities, and also carrying out workshops to help develop the skills and creativity of local activist groups. Additionally, the organization also holds Forum Theatre workshops as a strategy for building self esteem and self confidence among people in various marginalized social sectors and thereby facilitating social integration. Janakaraliya is the first multi-ethnic theatre group in Sri Lanka to be able to produce theatre in Sinhala and Tamil. Their work has been acknowledged at national and international levels. For more information please refer to www.janakaraliya.org
Starting Janakaraliya activities
After many serious discussions about establishing a “Mobile Theatre Group” to create awareness on drama and theatre, social and ethnic peace and new youth movements in culture, it was agreed an organisation needs to be formed to implement such a programme, as much finances and organisational inputs are necessary, beyond that of individual commitments. Thereafter, with the formation of “Janakaraliya”, in January 2003 the first advertisements and news inserts in Sinhala, Tamil and English appeared in newspapers inviting applications from Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim youth. They were expected to join as fulltime members of the Mobile Theatre group and to be trained. Over two thousand Sinhala applications were received, while only 07 Tamil youth applied and no Muslims applied. The protracted war had created a huge mistrust and a socio-cultural division between Sinhala and Tamil societies. Hence the immediate rejection by the Tamil society. Within the traditional Muslim culture, there is an inhibition in getting into performing art. Tamil artistes who had previously worked with us personally and now living in Trincomalee and Nuwara-Eliya Districts helped to break the ring and with their assistance, Tamil youth joined the group. After a very strenuous gestation period, Janakaraliya started its activities on 29th July 2004 with 20 members. They consisted of 09 Tamil youth and 11 Sinhala youth. Janakaraliya Mobile Theatre group thus became the first theatre group in Sri Lanka to have both Sinhala and Tamil youth on the same stage.
Forum Theatre Practices of Janakaraliya
Janakaraliya is a Theatre Arts Movement using alternate theatre arts styles that help to reach the masses. On the other hand it is a cultural organization engaged in empowering oppressed communities using conventional performance theatre as well as Applied Theatre. Janakaraliya dramatists are quite familiar with ‘Forum Theatre’ which is the most powerful tool of Applied Theatre format. They are specially trained in it.
During the war period Janakaraliya conducted Forum Theatre programmes for the Marginalized communities on their human issues. After the war janakaraliya conducted Forum/Applied Theatre programmes on Social Integration and (Sinhala & Tamil) Language usage. As the same, Janakaraliya was able to find an opportunity for three of its senior members to participate at the ‘Muktadhara Forum Theatre’ workshop and Festival conducted by Jana Sanskriti – Centre for Theatre of the Oppressed, an Asian Member Centre of the International Theatre of the Oppressed, Jana Sanskriti, Kolkata, India.
Creating plays in both languages
Aesthetics and art reach beyond languages and ethnic divisions and provide for co-existence in pluralistic societies. This was not the experience in Sri Lanka where ethnic egos were being played up to sustain a protracted war. Cultural activities were compartmentalised in Sinhala and Tamil languages separately. War even made exchange of experience very much harder between the two ethnic societies. It was therefore a necessity to provide good examples of cultural co-existence that nurture good drama and theatre. Production of all plays by Janakaraliya in both Sinhala and Tamil languages gave mutual access to every ethnic group. This in fact was a wholly new experience in Sri Lankan theatre. There had been no instances of Sinhala and Tamil artistes coming together for joint creations, before Janakaraliya experimented with it. Thus this was another first in Sri Lankan art. Five plays, with two productions from each language were produced. They are "Charandas", "Makararaksha", "Andaramal", "Seethambarapataya", "Devlovagamana"(Children's play) and "Soru Evilla"(Children's play). This new effort by the Janakaraliya Mobile Theatre Group was highly commended. This was further appreciated by eminent academics like Prof. Sivathamby, who made a public statement that this effort by Janakaraliya was a gift to the Tamil youth and art by Sinhala artistes.
The First Ever Mobile Theatre in Sri Lanka
Within the accepted tradition in drama in Sri Lanka, drama troupes travel to locations where fixed theatre halls are available for performance. There was never in Sri Lanka a troupe of actors that travelled beyond those facilities in the cities, carrying a theatre hall and performing in that mobile theatre hall. Thus there was no opportunity for rural masses to enjoy drama. After many efforts, Jana Karaliya became the first ever Mobile Theatre in Sri Lanka.
The possibilities afforded by the collapsible mobile theatre hall are unique in many ways. Dramatists in Sri Lanka are accustomed to the picture frame (proscenium) theatre. Performance is direct from one side of the theatre to the spectators on the other side. Janakaraliya Mobile Theatre was designed and constructed as a 'New Arena Theatre'. Performance can be audienced from all four sides. Also, a director could use this theatre as a 'thrust' theatre and the audience will then see the play from three sides. Sri Lanka still doesn't have even a fixed theatre with such flexibility. This modern, collapsible mobile theatre has an audience capacity of 600 adults or 800 children. It could be dismantled with minimum effort and transported in two trucks, to any part of the country.
The journey with the Mobile Theatre
The launch of the Jana Karaliya with its Mobile Theatre was organised with a Festival of Drama on 10th of March 2005. Mobile Theatre was installed at the Nomads Ground, Colombo7 and this first Jan akaraliya Drama Festival was held 10th to 19th March. The objective of organising the first Janakaraliya festival in Colombo was to Publicise the concept of a mobile theatre and its programme to the whole country, demonstrate the use of the new Mobile Theatre and new experiences that could be gained and check the response of Colombo based intellectuals, theatre goers and the urban society.
Newspaper and TV media was used for a strong publicity campaign. Banners, posters were also used and members of the Mobile Theatre Group distributed fliers in the city. About 800 invitations together with a brochure on Janakaraliya were used as direct mail to dramatists and other artistes. The festival was a success than expected.
There after, the Mobile Theatre Group started its first public interaction in Anuradhapaura. It should be stressed here that in the past, even with state patronage, it had been extremely difficult to have successful drama festivals in the outstations. Thus the challenge faced by the Janakaraliya Mobile Theatre group was Herculean but was successful. In Anuradhapura 02 drama festivals (in 20 days-40 performances)were held in the Mobile Theatre itself and except for the first two days the theatre was fully packed. During the past 10 years Janakaraliya travelled with it Mobile Theatre throughout Polonnaruwa, Trincomalee, Puttalam (twice), Hambanthota, Tangalle, Thambuththegama, Monaragala, Nuwara Eliya and Badulla (twice), Anuradhapura (again), Jaffna, Mannar, Vavuniya, Homagama, Galle, Ampara, Mullaithivu.
Drama and Theatre Education Programmes
In Sri Lanka, the practice in drama and theatre is writing a play, producing it and performing in to an audience. That is popularly termed 'Performance Theatre'. Janakaraliya has gone further and uses drama & theatre in education & personal development as well. This is commonly called 'Applied Theatre'. The foundation to the mobile theatre was laid by the combination of these two concepts. As a result, Janakaraliya mobile theatre group performs plays (both in Sinhala and Tamil) and also uses drama & theatre for education & personal development.
Promoting peace and social harmony
Janakaraliya Mobile Theatre group is not merely a group focusing on drama, theatre and culture alone. Janakaraliya works towards a conflict free pluralistic society. One that would co-exist for every ones benefit. It is the understanding of Janakaraliya Mobile Theatre group that art in every form flourishes and enriches within societies that are open to exchange and assimilation. And that demands a stable society which would accept all its ethnicities, religious diversities and other differences as equal and honourable differences, in unity. It is on this basic understanding that Janakaraliya Mobile Theatre group works as an organisation in its internal programming and with the local societies it interacts with. This is why Tamil members act in Sinhala productions and Sinhala members act in Tamil productions. This has made a big impact amongst the audiences of both ethnicities. It’s a living experience how young people of two emotionally charged ethnicities work together to create and perform new artistic productions for a common objective.
Janakaraliya plans to work directly with children using its group members as instructors. This was experimented in Medawachchiya and Padaviya two very remote areas in Anuradhapura District. Direct contact with children has given interesting experiences. At Padaviya where Sinhala peasants suffered a lot because of the war, hatred towards Tamil people is very high. This animosity was gradually thinned out with reason and close rapport when Tamil members held workshops for Sinhala children in that area. It in fact grew to a very intimate friendship among Sinhala youth and Janakaraliya Tamil members. The same intimate relationship grew between the Sinhala members of the Mobile Theatre Group and the Tamil children at Manampitiya Tamil School. Knowledge and skills of the Mobile Theatre group has being improved upon for "Theatre for Education" that enables them to be more effective instructors.
The first highest achievement after the inception of Janakaraliya was the drama ‘Charandas’ adjudicated as the Best Drama in the State Drama Festival in 2006. ‘Charandas’, a Janakaraliya Creation, bagged 09 awards for both Sinhala and Tamil Language productions at the festival including the ‘Best Direction’ and ‘Best Drama’ of the year. This was the first time in Sri Lankan Drama history a one play participated in this state festival with two versions in both local languages. This achievement has special significance not only because ‘Charandas’ won 09 awards at the State Drama Festival but by winning the awards competing with the conventional and established ‘Proscenium Dramas’ that retained a monopoly in the so called established theatres in the cities. After that Janakaraliya has received major awards annually from the State Drama Festival every time when it represent at it.
Challenging to the established theatre
Janakaraliya broke the traditional restrictions of the ‘Proscenium Theatres’ and introduced the “New Arena’ methodology in creating the mobile theatre, ‘Janakaraliya’, inculcating features of a ‘mobile (travelling) theatre’. The dramas of the group are performed outside the ‘Janakaraliya’ in open air during the night in far away villages and also in rural schools during the daytime and under the tress in village hamlets with the participation of the masses. For almost a century the Colombo based Sinhala dramas of ‘Proscenium Theatre Cult’ performed in fine theatres (halls) under the false, unwarranted and self declared ‘value concept’ that good dramas performed only within the so called ‘City Theatres’. ‘Charandas' of Janakaraliya challenged these mythical false value concepts of the ‘Proscenium Theatre’
Winning the awards gave ‘Charandas’ a new look amongst the stage drama organizers who were catering to the drama goers and stage drama fans in the City Theatres. These organizers came forward to stage ‘Charandas’ in these popular stage drama ‘destinations’ (City Theatres) in the towns and suburbs paving the way for the first time, as shown in our records, for us to make profits from our performances. There were 20 such special performances in City Theatres during this year. Publicity campaigns carried out by these organizers in several mediums make ‘Charandas’ and ‘Janakaraliya’ more popular were giving a boost and popularity to our programmes in the rural areas too.
In addition to the publicity or the popularity thus gained this achievement gave us a special recognition amongst the state authorities and state officials facilitating the support and co-operation of state officials and organizations for our projects in the provincials.
Birth of four regional drama groups
The most significant achievement of Janakaraliya during this period was launching of three Regional Drama Groups. The first unit was centred in Thangalla in the Hambanthota District of the Southern Province. Individuals and organizations that appreciated the programmes implemented by Janakaraliya in the Hambanthota District wanted the programmes to be continued throughout. The provincial State Officials, Lawyers, Doctors and the Business Community got together and established an organization under the title ‘Ruhunu Karaliya’ (Ruhunu Theatre – Ruhunu derives from the historical name given to the Southern Province of Sri Lanka ‘Ruhuna’) and laid the foundation to establish the Regional Drama Group. A building was provided free of charge facilitating training of the first batch of 30 trainee dramatists. This unit created three short dramas and one full length drama.
Taking the Hambanthota Regional Drama Group as a model the second Regional Drama Group was established in Anuradhapura. The historical city of Anuradhapura was the starting point of the journey of Janakaraliya. During the time Janakaraliya was at Anuradhapura it became a household name amongst the people of Anuradhapura. They gathered in numbers to support the formation of the Regional Drama Group of Janakaraliya. The support of the people gave a tremendous strength to us in building of this Regional Group in Anuradhapura. This group will be given a house for training with the sponsorship of the Chief Minister of the North Central Province. This Regional Group has already created two short dramas and one long drama.
The most noteworthy feat or achievement for us of Janakaraliya in establishing Regional Drama Group was the formation of the Nuwara-Eliya Regional Drama Group. While the Hambanthota and Anuradhapura Regional Drama Groups were formed with young men and women from Sinhala community the Nuwara-Eliya Drama Group Unit was formed with young men and women of the Tamil community. They are the children from underprivileged labourer families of the Estate Sector suffering from extreme poverty. They have created two dramas based on two of the traditional as well as indigenous drama styles called ‘Therukkuththu’ and Kamankuththu’. This group became popular and respected after the two dramas were performed recently in Colombo at the ‘Thamil Shangam’ (Tamil Union) during the Tamil Arts Festival – ‘Theseeya Kalei Illakkiyap Peravei’ (An arts festival by Tamil People). All the Tamil dailies carried out articles with photographs of the unit praising the creativity and the skills shown by this Regional Drama Group. The fourth Regional Drama Group was formed as "Nidahas Karaliya" (Freedom Theatre) by regional artists and theatre fans in 2015 after a effective and successful Mobile Theatre Festival conducted in Chlaw. Janakaraliya supported them to conduct a training programme for their drama group and produced first play called "Kalpanthaya" (The Doomsday). This team continuously perform this play together with new two short plays in their district of Puttalam.
Introduction of ‘Janakaraliya Little Theatres’
Another significant achievement by ‘Janakaraliya’ was the introduction of two ‘Mini Mobile Theatres’. These were a novel introduction to our country. It was very gratifying that USAID came forward to sponsor our latest concept of ‘mobile little theatres’. Construction of the first ‘Janakaraliya Mobile Theatre’ was also funded by the USAID. These mobile little theatres were given to us by the USAID along with the necessary sound and lighting equipment. The USAID stated that they were pleased help us taking into consideration the services rendered by Janakaraliya towards the betterment of the Sri Lankan society and to promote peace amongst the communities. The mobile little theatres were launched by locating them at the Anuradhapura Central College grounds at a festival organized for the event. ‘Andaramal’ – a Janakaraliya drama was performed at the launching ceremony. The day time show was dedicated to the school children and the evening performance was for the invitees. These mobile little theatres are used to stage performances of the Zonal Drama Groups.
Janakaraliya receives overseas recognition
One of the most rewarding experiences for the “Janakaraliya’ was its tour of India. The ‘National School of Drama’ of New Delhi, India invited Janakaraliya to perform ‘Charandas’ at the annual drama festival ‘Bharath Rang Mahothsav’ representing Sri Lanka. The full ‘Janakaraliya Team’ participated in this tour and performed the Sinhala version of ‘Charandas’ to a large gathering of spectators in New Delhi. On the way back we had the opportunity to stage the Tamil version of ‘Charandas’ at the Chandralekha Dancing Institute in Chennai and at the University of Pondicheri. We were also fortunate to be invited to perform "Charandas’ by the invitation of "Coastal Poor Development Action Network of Thamilnadu" for the fishing villages at Pudukuppam and, Konambakkam of Tamilnadu. The tour gave good publicity to Janakaraliya amongst our neighboring Indians and also was an eye-opener for the scholars, intellectuals and prominent dramatists of our country.
‘Payanihal’ drama directed by two young directors of Janakaraliya, Ronika Chamalee and Selvaraj Leelawathie, represented Sri Lanka at the New Delhi International Drama Festival, 13th Bharat Ranga Mahothsav’ and performed at the LTG theatre, New Delhi on the 10th January 2012. Sinhala dramas have represented Sri Lanka at international drama festivals in several occasions but this is the first time a Tamil Drama represented Sri Lanka at an international drama festival. Usually there’s no opportunity for the same drama to be performed twice in this drama festival but ‘Payanihal’ was awarded the rare opportunity to perform twice on the 10th of January at 3.00 pm and 6.30 pm.
Today Janakaraliya has arrived at an important juncture. Many of its artists have won highest awards at the State Drama Festivals and National Youth Drama Festivals. Dramas considered being ‘Best Drams’ have been produced by Janakaraliya. Members’ have had opportunities to participate in international drama festivals and travel overseas. As a result Janakaraliya is recognized nationally and internationally. It should be mentioned specially that Janakaraliya has been selected by the "Freedom to Create" global competition as one of the 10 ‘Best Cultural Groups’ among the Asia-Pacific region.
Janakaraliya Mobile Theatre Group was invited to participate at the 06th International Drama Festival held in Thrishur, Kerala in India from 27th January to 03rd February. The invitation from Kerala extended not only to the Janakaraliya drama group but also to the Mobile Theatre. The Mobile Theatre was proposed to be used as one of the performing venues of this international drama festival conducted by the Music and Drama Academy of the Cultural Ministry of Kerala Province. The festival was represented by drama groups from Poland, Rumania, Georgia, Norway, Italy, France, Denmark, Russia and England. Sri Lanka was represented by Janakaraliya at this prestigious drama festival.
Janakarliya Mobile Theatre was shipped to Thrissur Music and Drama Academy, Kerala in order to be installed at the venue of the Drama Festival. Janakaraliya drama group reached the venue on the 15th of January and installed the Mobile Theatre and perform the new version of ‘Hunuwataye Kathawa’ (The Caucasian Chalk Circle) created by Parakrama Niriella for Janakaraliya. The drama was performed in this Mobile Theatre on 30th January for the international drama festival.
Janakaraliya represented Sri Lanka at the 6th Kalindi Bratyajon International Theatre Festival at Kolkata and 16th Ritzwik International Theatre Festival of Berhampur, West Bengal and two Janakaraliya plays, "Payanihal" and "Porisadaya" were performed at these festivals held in June and November 2015.
Thereafter Janakaraliya participated at the International Festival of "Under the Sal Tree" organized by the "Badungduppa Socio-Cultural Institute" of Rampur, Assam, India in December 2016. The Artistic Director of Janakaraliya, Parakrama Niriella participated as the Chief Guest of this festival. A special felicitation was given to him at this festival.
Shudraka's "Mrichchakatika" Sanskrit Play in Sinhala & Tamil
In some instances the practical process and team work put into drama production will transmit more influential messages of cohabitation and inclusiveness among communities rather than inclusion of such messages in a drama or a work of art. The best case study for this could be the two Janakaraliya drama productions in Sinhala and Tamil languages based on the ‘Mruchchakateeka’ (Little Clay Cart) Sanskrit drama supposed to be written by Shruddhaka (he was a king).
After the successful completion of the Sanskrit drama ‘Mruchchakateeham’ in Sinhala under title ‘Meti Karaththya’, the multi ethnic drama group of Janakaraliya planned to produce the same drama in Tamil language providing opportunities for external Tamil dramatists to participate in the production by acting in it. The initial plan was to recruit Tamil youth for the project from Colombo area with the objective of promoting long-lasting inclusiveness among the creative youngsters of Sinhala and Tamil communities through cultural application. However it was decided later to produce the Tamil version utilizing undergraduates affiliated to the Swami Vipulanantha Institute of Aesthetic Studies of the Eastern University, Batticaloa. Taking into consideration the fact that they were students studying Drama and Theatre and getting them involved in the total process of drama production as an educational pursuit, it was decided to implement the project with the undergraduates.
Janakaraliya Tours in North
After the 30 years war a theatre group from South went on a tour to North on March 2010. That was the visit of the first theatre group from South, was Janakaraliya. From 16th May 2010 Janakaraliya theatre group started its tour from Mannar and performed "Thirudan Vandan" and "Devaloha Payanam" children's plays and also other plays, "Charandas", "Seethambarapata & Andaramal" for school community and adults at Nanattan, Murunkan, Pesalai, Mannar, Thale Mannar and Vankalai. After Manna the group proceeded to Vavuniya and performed same manner at Madukanda, Ruhunupura, Irataperiyakulam and Mamaduwa. Thereafter they carried the Mobile Theatre to Jaffna and installed it on the grounds of Sadhana College, Nallur, Jaffna. They had a Drama Festival in the Mobile Theatre since 21st June to 3rd July. That tour was well received by the Common people, Artists and intellectuals in Jaffna. Janakaraliya team went on a 15 days tour in the different parts of the Jaffna peninsula and performed above mentioned children's and other plays for schools community and common public followed by discussions.
Project of International Fund for Promotion of Culture (IFPC) of the UNESCO
Purpose of the Project :
Solidarity and coexistence through the performing arts and intercultural collaborative practice
The project brought about inters cultural collaborative practice in the performing arts by working with Sinhala and Tamil groups. To symbolize our notion of solidarity, these workshops commenced in the Jaffna peninsula (Northern Sri Lanka) - a war-torn region that is considered the last bastion and repository of Tamil culture. Part performance, part ritual, the project was born out of a vision to celebrate and explore the different cultural voices of Sri Lanka while developing rigorous strategies for art-making. The project preserved transmitted and nurtured artistic and cultural forms while serving the cultural life of Jaffna and the rest of the country. It connected artists, audiences and communities and, given the sharpening of ethnic identities in the last few decades, create a collision of artistic and cultural realities that has within it the possibilities for a new nexus of feeling, insight and awareness.
The project was consisting of activities divided into five components:
(1) Applied and Performance Theatre Workshops
(2) Drama production;
(3) Performance tour;
(4) Post-drama discussions; and
(6) Drama festival in the Janakaraliya Mobile Theatre in Jaffna
(1) The Applied and Performance Theatre Workshops
commenced with 3 workshops of 1 day duration for 3 groups of theatre artists in the Jaffna Peninsula. The main objective of this workshop process was to identify a group of artists from Jaffna to work with the Janakaraliya (Theatre Of the People) team on the final production. These workshops were consisting of theatre exercises and a rigorous selection process. The most promising artists from these workshops were then attending a 3 day workshop to preen what they have learnt and discovered. This 3 day workshop was being an intense training and learning workshop to hone the skills of the actors. The short-listing process to select the most promising participants from the first workshop had been envisaged in the belief that it will lead to high quality productions, which in turn were attract large audiences as well as ensure that the key messages are effectively portrayed. All workshops were conducted by an ethnically mixed team from Janakaraliya (Theatre Of the People), thereby giving the participants an opportunity to interact and helping them to meet people from different communities.
(2) Drama Production
The Janakaraliya (Theatre Of the People) main drama team worked with the drama team in the Jaffna Peninsula to develop the story lines, music, dance, costumes etc. As this was done in partnership and collaboration, the participants were felt a strong ownership and pride in the outcome. The interaction with the Janakaraliya (Theatre Of the People) multi-ethnic drama team was also highly beneficial as the Jaffna community could have the experience of getting to know firsthand a team that stands for and believes in coexistence and non-violence. The production brought together various music forms, generally confined to individual communities in the North, onto one platform.
(3) Performance Tour
The production that was developed by the team was toured in 8 different locations around the country. Theatre productions in Sri Lanka were often confined to the location of origin. Therefore, taking this production to all parts of the country could be provided a wider scope for the much needed exchange of ideas between artists and audience. The production toured in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Vavuniya, Batticaloa,Trincomalee, Hatton, Colombo and Hambantota.
(4) Post-drama discussion
There was a post drama discussion after each performance in each of these districts. These discussions brought to light key issues discussed in the play and its relevance to the community as well the use of theatre as medium to discuss these issues. It provided a space for the exchange of ideas between the artists and the audience.
(5) Drama festival
The mobile theatre festival in Jaffna brought together communities for a week long Janakaraliya theatre festival showcasing several Janakaraliya (Theatre Of the People) productions with special focus on the production developed through this project at a selected location. This week long festival also gave the opportunity for local artists (not limited to drama) from the North and South to showcase their talents. With these productions the concerns and the issues of the Jaffna community went beyond their boundaries and to the larger Sri Lankan audience. Many ordinary citizens continued to be unaware of the living conditions and the various rights violations that take place in Jaffna. These festivals and the attendant exhibitions raised their awareness. By reason of their emphasis on sociability, these festivals were expected to entail a strong element of community, identity-building as well as provide opportunities to reinvigorate feelings of solidarity.
The new play also added to the series of plays scheduled to perform in this festival.
Compliance with IFPC Objectives
The project emphasized artistic excellence, inter disciplinary learning and the spirit of inter cultural collaboration. Our conception was a result of the touchstone formed by years of collaboration with artists, scholars and culture-bearers from diverse communities. Our work took in to account the challenge inherent in the ethical and epistemic interrelatedness of persons, both within their own communities and with the other. The interventions were designed to help participants become aware, at a meta-cognitive level, of the webs of shared meaning that could constrain as well as promote understanding and constructive action. These webs of shared meaning in Sri Lanka were embodied in gestures, language, beliefs, anthems, flags, foods, narratives, rituals, dance, drama, sculpture, music, literature, hydraulics, religion, architecture and pageant. As such, we helped our stakeholders make choices about how they wish to relate to these webs of shared meaning and help them overcome emotional resistances to change, and, therefore, engage them bodily, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. The project, thus, raised awareness and promoted the importance of cultures as sources of knowledge, meanings, values and identity. 95% of our performers were youth. Thus the project benefited young creators and artists (18-30 years old).
Details of the play produced under the UNESCO/IFPC Project:
The drama selected for the programme was a translation of Bertolt Brecht’s ‘Caucasian Chalk Circle’ by veteran Sri Lankan dramatist Dr. Kulanthai M. Shanmugalingam. Titled ‘Wenkatti Wattam’ the drama had been co-directed by veteran dramatist Parakrama Niriella and Kadiresu Rathidaran, a dramatist and lecturer of the University of Jaffna.
The premier of the drama was held at Weerasingham Theatre, Jaffna on 22nd July 2016. This drama performed in Colombo on 25th July at 03.00 pm and 07.00 pm at the University of Visual and Performing Arts and University of Ruhuna, Matara on 27th July followed by performances at Cinesita Hall in Nuwaraeliya on 16th October, Deivanayagam Hall on Batticaloa 18th October, Eastern University in Chenkalladi on 19th October, Rambaikulaam Girls School in Vavuniya on 20th October and Corporative Hall in Kilinichchi on 21st October.
Janakaraliya Mobile Theatre in Colombo again
2nd Mobile Theatre Festival for the year 2016
Janakaraliya initiated by Parakrama Niriella and the late veteran dramatist H.A.Perera in 2003 has completed 14th years. The first mobile theatre was introduced to Sri Lanka in 2005 and erected at the Nomads grounds (Presently where Nelum Pokuna is) and started the first Janakaraliya drama festival on the 18th of March the same year. During the past 14 years, Janakaraliya theatre group has travelled all over the country performing drama, conducting drama workshops for youth, educational programmes on drama and performing arts for school teachers and students.
Janakaraliya has produced many dramas during this period, such as Charandas, Sithambarapata, Andaramal, Mayapattadai, Erikkalam Poo, Maraksha, Mati Karaththaya, Mrichchakatiham, Sekkuwa, Porisadaya, Parasthawa, Kalyamakadei, Payanihal, Huniwataya, Watoluwo Saha Uloluwo, Wenkatti Wattam and many more in Sinhala and Tamil languages. Janakaaraliya not only performed all the above in the main theatre venues in Colombo but pioneered to perform for the rural communities too. The above Janakaraliya productions were directed not only by Parakrama Niriella, but by the senior members of the group, Selvaraj Leelawathi, Ronika Chamali, Sumudu Mallawarachchi, Rasaiah Loganathan, Ajantha Shanthakumar. Massive crowds attended to see these performances wherever Janakaraliya erected this mobile theatre and performed.
After coming back to Colombo after 14 years Janakaraliya conducted its second festival for the year 2016 was held on behalf of the “Wings Festival of Arts” at the Janakaraliya mobile theatre installed at the Colombo University (near the planetarium). The festival was commenced with Somalatha Subasinghe’s Children’s drama “Punchi Apata Dan Therai” at 9.30 am and “Suranganak Bandu Puranganak” of Ranaga Manupriya and Damith Aluthgamage at 6.30 pm on the 07th November 2016. This festival continued till 21st November. Janakaraliya productions Charandas, Sekkuwa, Hunuwataya, Wenkatti Wattam, Payanihal, WatOluwo and Uloluwo, Mrs. Kohila Madhavan, Andura saha Eliya, Parasthawa and Baasha saha Molly were perfumed during the festival.
“Suranganak Bandu Puranganak”, Professor S. Mounaguru’s “Ravanesan”, Chilaw free theatre production Nilantha Mahipala’s “Kalpanthaya”, were performed as guest drama performances and a musical show “Music Matters” wason the 12th November by ‘Baliphonics and Transcoastal Collective’ music band. A specialty was the performance “whitch's House” by Mandela Theatre group from Katmandu- Nepal performed on the 10th. Somalatha Subasinghe’s children’s plays “Punchi Apata Dan Therai”, “Rathmali” and “Thoppi Wellenda” were performed on the 07, 09 and 11th respectively at 9.30 am. Koushalya Fernando and Chandana Aluthge of ‘Kotte Play house drama Institute’ conducted a series of workshops on “Creative Activities for children” on 8th, 9th and 12th.
This festival organized by Janakaralaiya Cultural Foundation with the support of by GIZ, Care International, Europian Unian, National Peace and reconciliation Bureau, Sri Lanka Arts Council and Arts Council of the Colombo University.