The Sunday Leader

Colombo’s First International Theatre Festival Tomorrow

By Raisa Wickrematunge

The buzz of anticipation from a waiting audience, a lifted curtain- and the show begins. Sri Lanka has been performing drama for years, using puppets or colourful masks. But now, local theatre is getting a boost with Sri Lanka’s first ever International Theatre Festival going on the boards.
Festival organisers Inter Act Arts has been contributing to Sri Lankan theatre for around 20 years. They have trained young aspiring actors, teachers and students in drama, always with an eye for modern technique.
Now, they plan to bring dramatic arts into the public eye with the festival, which begins tomorrow.
Why an ‘international’ festival? The participants come from many different countries, festival secretary Jayalath. S. Gomes said. Groups from Germany, Iran, Indonesia, India and Pakistan will be performing different pieces, and there will be three productions from Sri Lanka as well, Gomes said.
The idea to hold a theatre festival in Colombo was born when Inter Act Arts noticed how many international festivals were held celebrating different fields; from modeling to film and music. Realising that there was no such event for theatre in Sri Lanka, Inter Act Arts decided to hold their own. Festival director M. Shafeer also hopes that it will open up new avenues in the world of performing arts in Sri Lanka.
Inter Act Arts began by asking people to apply on their website. Several people sent in videos as auditions, and selections were made. Soon, what was an ambitious dream began to take shape.
The festival is aimed at children and the youth, and will be a colourful spectacle involving puppetry, dance and drama. The opening act will be from the German group, whose performance will be unique because their cast includes disabled people. Amongst the Sri Lankans, there will be a ‘very modern’ dance theatre production, while other performances will be more traditional.
As a side event to the festival, a series of workshops will be held with veteran thespians providing their expertise to amateurs. The workshops will include everything from instructions on stage lighting to storytelling and drama. Dr. Ashish Bose from India, Amir Nawaz from Pakistan, Smriti Sharma and Imran Kahn will be some of the people providing guidance at the workshops, which are already full.
A huge problem is the perception that acting and the theatre is not a viable profession, so that many people are dissuaded from participating in the arts. Gomes acknowledges this, saying that theatre has faded from prominence over the past 10 to 15 years. However, he said that there has been an uprising of interest. He hopes that the theatre festival will encourage the younger generation to take the stage as well, by showing them that theatre too can keep up with modern trends. The participation of other countries will also provide some insight into different cultures and perspectives. The Theatre Festival will be held from March 26 to April 2 at the British International School, from 3:30 pm to 7:30 pm. For tickets, try the British School, the German Cultural Institute or book your tickets online at If you are a fan of drama, then make sure you drop by to watch the performances.

Main Performance
3.30 /7.00 pm
26th March (Germany)
Upheaval – Director – Gerda König and Gustavo Fijalkow
DIN A 13 Tanzcompany
27th March (Iran)
The old man and the sea – Director – Zahrasadat Aziminia
Iran’s Sayeh Theatre Group
Passengers (Sri Lanka) Director: Ronika Chamali /S.Leelawathi
Janakaraliya – Theatre of the People.
28th March (Indonesia)
SITOBO LALANG LIPA – Director – Muh. Saeful
29th March (India – Delhi)
CHHUTTI (Story-telling theatre) Director: Dr. Ashish Ghosh
ANANT Theatre Group
30th March (Australia)
Talk is small: a play with Scrabble Director – Brendan O’Connell
by Big One Little One
Elfi (Sri Lanka) – Director: S.Dayalan
Inter Act Art Black Box Theater
31th March -(Pakistan)
Akhiyan Walio (people with eyes) – Director: Aamir Nawaz
Maas Foundation-Pakistan
01st April (India – Pune)
Dangalnama Director: Pro. Vidyanidhee Vanarase
FLAME School of Preforming Arts
02nd April
Caged (Sri Lanka) – Director: M.Safeer
Inter Act Art Black Box Theater


March 27th 2012 | 10am – 3pm
Dance Workshop /
DIN A 13 tanzcompany
Gerda König (Choreographer,
Director) and Marc Stuhlmann
(Dancer, Assistant Director)
March 28th 2012 | 09am 2pm
Contemporary Plays
international co productions
including the role of the networks
Facilitator : Prof. Dr. Wolfgang
March 29th 2012 | 09am 2pm
Story-telling theatre
Facilitator : Mr. Imran Khan
March 30th 2012 | 09am 2pm
‘Object Theatre’
Facilitator : M/s Choiti Ghosh
March 31st 2012 | 09am 2pm
The Phakama Way (Participatory theatre making processes for young adults)
Facilitator : Prof. V idyanidhee
April 01st 2012 | 09am 2pm
Stage Lighting for a theatre
Facilitator : Mr. Aamir Nawaz
Paper Presentation:
28th 2.30 -4.00
Theatre as a Pedagogic tool :
Possibilities and Challenges
Presenter: M/s Smriti Sharma
29th 2.30 -4.00
“Participatory theatre and its
development across the past decade”
Presenter: Brendan O’Connell /
Penelope Kentish
30th 2.30 -4.00
‘Who decides about what is best for
the child and the young: Posers for TYA
Presenter: Dr. Ashish Ghosh
31st 2.30 – 4.00
What is the role of technology in theatre in coming years? How would it influence the process of theatre making? What are today’s realities? What kind of theatre would that be?
Presenter: Prof. Vidyanidhee
01st April 2.30 – 4.00
Situation of Theatre for children and young audiences {TYA} in South Asia
Presenter: Imran Khan
Organiser: Inter act art Theatre in collaboration with ASSITEJ (International).
02nd April 9.00 – 3.00
Sri Lankan Dance Theater
its achiewments & crisis
Presenter: Ravibandu Vidyapathi

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