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The ultimate production of Pyramus & Thisby


Photos by Shehal Joseph — Kanabona.com

Fantastic news for theatre lovers! The wild and wonderful fairies are back by popular demand to tickle, tease and titillate Colombo audiences. CentreStage Productions is presenting the much anticipated third run of their hit ‘magi-comedy’ Pyramus & Thisby at the Lionel Wendt Theatre from October 31 to November 2 at 7.30 p.m.

The spectacular performance, which is designed and directed by Jehan Aloysius, is a hilarious evening of supernatural drama and dance.

Pyramus & Thisby is regarded as the most magical experience offered by Centre Stage Productions. The performance is constructed from the two sub-plots of the ‘mechanicals’ and the fairies in Shakespeare’s supernatural masque, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The adaptation, which is set in low-country Sri Lanka at the turn of the 19th century, features the trademark narrative techniques of CentreStage Productions such as fusion-dance, music, mask rituals, acrobatics and physical comedy, coupled with Shakespeare’s most lyrical verse. Prancing fairies, exciting choreography, supernatural rituals and state-of-the-art lighting make the show a night to remember.

Pyramus & Thisby boasts a stellar cast of prominent English theatre personalities as well as professional dancers, acrobats and musicians from around Sri Lanka. The show has been described by critics as "a scintillating spectacle …a feast of colour, sound and emotion — a veritable treat for all the senses."

The show’s creator, Jehan Aloysius, states, "we were humbled by the response of the audiences, critics and academics." Indeed, critics have even written that "Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream was never so creatively adapted in Sri Lanka," while other critics described the show as "a night to remember… a lasting impression of Sri Lankan theatre… a theatrical success."

Pyramus & Thisby was indeed an overwhelming success when it was first performed in 2006, and was unanimously hailed as a ground breaking achievement in Sri Lankan theatre. This prompted repeat performances in 2007 that were even more successful. The play has even established a fan base with repeat viewers. Hence, the production has been reworked from an outdoor show in order to accommodate this audience and present a spectacular, enhanced experience. The producers assure that family audiences will enjoy this hilariously interactive production which will have them rolling down the aisles.

Box plan opens at the theatre from October 10. Call 2695794 for tickets inquiries.


Yet another Centre of Excellence


Dr. Madara Ralapanawe

Apollo Fertility Centre assists sub-fertility

By Fathima Razik

Established in 2002, Apollo Hospital now called The Lanka Hospitals Corporation (TLHC) is considered a benchmark in the health sector as it continues to introduce the newest and most efficient methods of healthcare with state of the art equipment that goes with providing the newest medical interventions.  

Speaking at the launch recently Head of Business Development Randika Perera said that innovation in healthcare has been the reason behind Apollo’s success combined with quality medical professionals and quality healthcare while continuously improving their quality standards and ensuring that all of this is affordable to a larger segment of society. “In fact we are the first hospital to have a nursing school that is recognised internationally. We have a partnership with the Government of Maldives to train their nurses,” Perera said. Continuing, he said, “From the Gamma camera to MRI we have the best in equipment and quality professionals who share their skills and knowledge with others in the medical profession.”

Going into Apollo’s achievements since its inception in Sri Lanka, Perera said that to date the hospital has conducted 2682 cardiac surgeries with the youngest patient being 6 years and the oldest patient – 77 years. No mean feat by any standards in a space of six years.

Focusing on the Apollo Fertility Centre (AFC), where life begins, was Resident Clinical Embryologist Dr. Madara Ralapanawe who is the only medical doctor to hold a post  graduate masters degree in Clinical Embryology in Sri Lanka. Dr. Ralapanawe, in his presentation went back in time – 1978 – when in Manchester, UK, the first In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) was performed by Prof. Edward Robert to give the world the first ever ‘test tube baby’ as it was then pronounced.

With TLHC investing Rs.30 million in its IVF laboratory by bringing down equipment from Japan and Australia to set up its fertility centre, sub-fertile couples from the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, the Middle East and the Maldives are now visiting Sri Lanka to make use of the procedure available to help them conceive a baby. And that the procedure has every important feature – vis-à-vis – qualified and highly trained medical professionals, a trained medical team, the latest equipment in reproductive techniques and the opportunity of having world-class medical care at an affordable cost has made many seek what is on offer.

Thus TLHC in the process is promoting medical tourism in Sri Lanka, a point under-  scored by its manage- ment in view of the many patients from overseas who seek treatment for various ailments at the Apollo hospital.

The equipment has the capacity to perform reproductive techniques everyday and 750 cylces a year. This includes the Em Cel IVF chamber – the latest model with inbuild HEPA filters which is available for the first time in Southeast Asia,Heraus Co2 and 02/N2 incubators, and Motorised Narisheige micromanipulator with Olympus inverted micro- scope fir ICSI, made in Japan.

This latest machine – the Em Cell – in which eggs are stored and selected for the purpose of Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI) has been installed at the Apollo Fertility Centre.

“The joystick is manipulated to get the sperm and the egg together with the sperm being injected into the egg,” explained Dr. Ralapanawe in the course of his presentation. “While the AFC is open 24 hours of the day we intend taking the process to the outskirts so that those in need of such services from the peripheries need not come to the centre in Colombo but can stay in surroundings familiar to them and obtain the same services with no compromise whatsoever on the quality of care that is given to all our patients,” added Dr. Ralapanawe. 

AFC has had 110 successful pregnancies in the last 10 months through IUI treatment. Its well planned follicular monitoring and IUI’s are performed in the presence of the husband of the patient. The procedures cover Natural cycle IVF, Intermediate IVF cycle and Controlled Ovarian Hyper- stimulation IVF cycle – with prices ranging to suit patients  according to their clinical condition and the procedure adopted.

One hundred and fifty thousand Natural cycle test tube babies protocol was established in the Natural cycle international symposium at the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, UK in 2006 which was attended by Dr. Madara Ralapanawe – the only Sri Lankan doctor to do so.

“We invite all gynaecologists in Sri Lanka to make use of this great opportunity in giving their patients the opportunity to be treated at Apollo with world class facilities at affordable costs,” said Dr. Ralapanawe whose ‘baby’ is the Apollo Fertility Centre that is on track to medically assist sub-fertile couples achieve their dream of having a baby.`


Literary Rites 2008 – the beginning of an inspirational journey

Described by photographer and theatre director, Sunila Galappati as, "a surprisingly nice thing to do on a Saturday afternoon," Literary Rites, the debut fundraiser of the Interact Club of The Study, in the words of one young participant, was "Enlightening, encouraging and inspiring." Consisting of two evenings of discussion, debate and discovery, Literary Rites created a forum where master wordsmith, novice and reader could interact and share their views on literature.

In an informal setting amidst the greenery of The Study an audience comprising some of Colombo’s literati and arts aficionados including renowned stage director Jith Peiris, Chloe de Soysa, publisher Sam Perera, Dr. Julie Quayle, Jill Macdonald and Rotary District Governor Nalin Fernando were enthralled by authors, author of Zilij (winner of the State Literary Prize 2005) and 15, Ameena Hussein; and the co-owner of the Perera-Hussein Publishing House; Head, English Department, University of Colombo and co-author of The Rolled Back Beach Professor Neluka Silva; author of Three Star K (co-winner Gratien Prize 2006) Seneka Abeyratne; author of The Rolled Back Beach, Simon Harris; author of Nothing Prepares You (which won the 2007 Gratien) Vivimarie Vanderpoorten; and multi award winning author Yasmine Gooneratne shared their experiences as writers: some the rituals of writing, others the purpose, yet others the cause. Certain authors also explored the way a writer relates to the world, and the inspiration he or she captures from it.

In addition to the extremely fascinating talks there was a vibrant, dynamic interaction between author and audience which also included students and interactors from the College of World Education, Elizabeth Moir School, Holy Family Convent, Methodist College, President’s College and St. Peter’s College, Furthermore, a large number of young adults contributed too, garnering inspiration to embark on the voyage of writing literature.

They also benefited from the very poignant and directed advice which the authors often based their own literary journeys on.

Simon Harris provided budding young writers with a number of pointers for improving their writing including an excellent introduction to flash fiction. Ameena Hussein made a unique contribution to the evening by relating her experiences as author and publisher in a holistic manner; her relatively late entrance into the world of creative writing was a source of hope too.

Yasmine Gooneratne focused on the rituals that writers partake in as part of their craft. As part of her presentation she spoke of how the classical authors invoked the muses when engaging in their craft and challenged writers to examine the nuances of their writing traditions.

Prof. Neluka Silva shared her journey as a writer, on how bedtime stories grew to become short stories in print and the considerable impact children have on her writing. Seneka Abeyratne stressed on being an authentic writer, advising, "You cannot become an authentic writer without becoming an authentic human being. You must dare to be different in terms of your ideas as well as your ideals and not surrender to public opinion."

Vivimarie Vanderpoorten, reciting poetry, shared personal experiences that lead her to compose poetry and related how she translated her emotions and ideas into the poetic form.

The large number of corporates and well wishers must be commended for sponsoring this fundraiser for the community service work of the Interact Club of The Study.

Keep your eyes peeled for Literary Rites 2009.

— Daniel Alphonsus


Chalana at the Elphinstone

Organised by Arakavila Dance and Theatre Foundation, 'Chalana', a concert that showcased hidden talents of a group of children from the suburbs, went on boards last Saturday at the Elphinstone theatre, Maradana.

The show was directed and choreographed by Janaki Hill and will be a forerunner for the world renowned Edinburough Fringe Festival 2009 set to be held in Scotland.

The show comprised traditional Sri Lankan dancing styles fused with traditional Indian, contemporary, physical dance and theatre.

An introduction to each dancing performance along with a short theatrical performance gave the show added variety.

The dance group aged between 12 to 25 years from the Arakavila village are immensely talented according to Janaki who said that she together with husband Peter Hill hope to give these youngsters as many opportunities as they can and take their talent to the world.

Hailing from Arakavila, herself, Janaki started the 'Arakavila Dance Theatre Foundation' in an attempt at uncovering the hidden talents of children in the area.

She said, "I’ve been approached by many professionals in the industry to do shows but I think these children have real talent and need to be given a chance and that’s why I’m concentrating my energies on them.” 


Enter the Gladiators!

Opening its premiere season last Sunday night, the ensemble of the Chamber Music Society of Colombo began the concert with Mozart’s overture to Lucio Silla. The highly charged moment of silence right before the downbeat, where the musicians were poised with bows up in the air like cobras waiting to strike, was most arresting.  And with the rambunctious,explosive first phrase, the ensemble presented its formidable performing credentials, due largely to its artistic director’s indefatigable energy and passion. Lakshman Joseph de Saram needs no introduction in Colombo’s cultural milieu. His commitment to Sri Lanka’s cultural well-being is undisputed.

The softer string playing did have its inadequacies midway, unable to convey a sense of quiet strength and classical tension. The last movement was suitably wild, the ensemble getting across the almost bacchanalian-like mood of a typical night of imperial Roman revelry.

The Dawn of Kandula, a world premiere for orchestra and percussion was the main event, commissioned from American born composer Stephen Allen who is the composer in residence of the Society.  As the prog- ramme indicated, “Stephen Allen is a Cal-Arts schooled composer and writing for the musicians of CMSC is his tribute to a country and culture he has grown to love.”

His tribute was a staggering tour-de-force of orchestral virtuosity and cultural relevance, musically expressing a chapter from the Mahavamsa that describes the epic 2nd century BC battle between King Elara the just and Prince Dutugemunu. Allen uses as his focal point the heroic role played by the elephant Kandula - the most famous elephant in world literature. After a verbal description the orchestra began its riveting portrayal of this fascinating piece of new music.

The work begins with an unusual hiccup like sound from the lower strings introducing an eerie sound of high violins and violas. The fluttering of flutes paints a primeval bird song. It’s dawn in medieval Anuradhapura. Gradually you hear the conch shell played on horn, that unmistakable sound echoed across the fields and grows into a flourish of heraldic brass proclamations from the trumpets. The battle is upon us.

A visceral and abrasive sound depicted the horror and ebb and flow of the clashing warriors. On top, around and underneath the incessant bedrock of thorny string writing, the great elephants Mahapabbata and Kandula are locked in a titanic dance of death. The trumpeting  fantastically portrayed by the brass section. After the shattering climax, a solitary note played on violin hovers over the dead body of the noble King Elara. The note symbolised the concept of the angel of death looking down on the fallen king and preparing his soul for the next journey.

The journey on the royal last rites bestowed on the King is a most melancholy and lofty violin solo that meanders through a multitude of tonalities and moods and eventually finds resolution in Kandula’s initial motif. A motif that is both contemplative and inspirational. The codetta has the brass thundering over the intense rising string figures that pulsate with an amazingly hopeful resonance that culminates with the entire orchestra unleashing an all pervading cathartic cry heralding the dawning of a united Lanka.

The 29th Symphony of Mozart’s was ably performed by a visibly tired ensemble. The Concertmaster did utter a disclaimer of sorts when he spoke of the physical demands of the just concluded world premiere. A work he said that required a rest to re-charge. But due to the time-consuming moving of the piano to centre on stage, the last movement in particular, was full of infectious vitality and exuberance. The orchestra’s sound at best, had brilliance and immediacy, but was almost too big for the space when they really opened out. The sound at its worst was lopsided. The cellos tended to sound too prominent in the slow movement, and the first violins seemed to be pushing harder,  sounding even harsh in the louder sections. 

The 14th piano concerto of Mozart featured Japanese pianist Masahiko Shinohara. There was no doubt about Shinohara’s technical apparatus, but Mozart still posed minor problems for him. The high point was the romantically inspired slow movement which was given a very sensitive and perceptive treatment by the ensemble and soloist. The last movement went off with a cheekiness that was quite fetching with both soloist and ensemble trading fast moving passagework with polished adroitness.

As public debuts go, it was an auspicious beginning. The Artistic Director clearly has a vision and expertise to see it through. The ensemble configuration is as good as it gets. CMSC has powerful supporters, national and international, and an elite fan base. On the whole, the Society is a refreshingly professional act watermarked with an ever so slight tinge of arrogance and pretentiousness, traits go with the territory of high culture.

In closing, what I found most valuable was the CMSC’s absolute commitment to new music of Sri Lanka and the region. As the Artistic Director put it, “no one in the world can play the Dawn of Kandula the way we can.”  He has a point.

— A.J. Andriessen, Hong Kong


14th International Photography Exhibition

The National Photographic Art Society of Sri Lanka will hold its 14th International Photography Exhibition on October 12 and 13 at the National Art Gallery in Colombo. Around 2000 photographs were sent for the exhibition from 30 countries. However only 200 photographs were chosen by the panel of judges.

The head of the panel of judges was Prof. Subathro Rai who is also a renowned photographer. The photographs will be judged in keeping with international rules and regulations. A workshop on the latest technology in photography will be held on October 13. The event will be sponsored by Mobitel, the Indian High Commission, Kodak Company, Brown and Company, Ninehearts Company, Fuji Company and the Sri Lanka Arts Society.


Wasantha Kumara presents Loneliness

Wasantha Kumara’s 38th exhibition of paintings titled Loneliness will be held at Namaskara Visual Art Gallery, 45/7, Welagedara, Badulla on October 14.

When people grow old they become lonely. Even those who are powerful and wise when they are young will feel loneliness when they grow old. Then what is the use of power, or knowledge that we seek in our life?

All are invited to the exhibition.


The sunset and the tranquil mind

Two of Wasantha Kumara’s paintings are currently being exhibited at Hotel Thilanka, Kandy.

Old age is neither a symbol of wisdom nor a reason to be respected by others. It is one of the main problems of life. As they grow old most people find it difficult to survive. Some are beset with mental disturbances. If one’s mind is undisturbed in his twilight years the world would be a wonderful place to experience life.

The Sunset And The Tranquil Mind is based on this theme. Kumara has a number of paintings on this theme and have selected two of them to be exhibited at Hotel Thilanka.

The beautiful environment and the elegant human figures depict the tranquility of mind . Old age is symbolised by the red setting sun. If you look carefully you will see shapes of wailing old people, and not a natural sunset scene in the paintings. The shapes depict a disconcerted mind.

Are these paintings based on a beautiful theme as they appear to be? One’s twilight years will be different to the days of one’s youth, which was an embodiment of health, wealth and beauty. 

 

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