23rd November,  2003  Volume 10, Issue 19


















Crucible of tension

The Crucible  is to be staged at the Lionel Wendt Theatre on November 28 and 29. Intrigued theatre-goers may wonder why such an intense and controversial play for a school production. Then again, the question may be asked 'why not?' as The Crucible has been in its time a 

prescribed O' Level text. Teachers of English literature in Colombo would welcome the experience both for themselves and for their students as it is relatively rare for such challenging texts to be enacted - although directors in Colombo are becoming steadily more willing to take risks.  

What would interest audiences further is the knowledge that the director of the play, Naomi Willard, has encouraged some of the scenes to be directed by senior members of the cast. And they have literally flung themselves into their roles, interpreting the script with passion and imagination.  

This, of course, is entirely in keeping with the school's ethos that music and drama are not extra- but co-curricular activities and must provide students with the vital experience of growth and self-discovery. The producer of the play is the artist Janet Howell, the head of creative and performing arts in the school.  The cast includes Bhanu Abeysinghe (John Proctor), Mariella Peiris (Elizabeth Proctor) and Chandri Jayatilleke (Abigail Williams).

Conceived at the height of McCarthyism in the United States, Arthur Miller uses a historical parallel in the 17th century to comment on the serious injustices that were taking place with impunity in the 1950s. Joseph McCarthy, a senior senator of the US government at the time, headed a committee which aimed at eradicating communism. Those who were incriminated were offered no effective opportunity to defend themselves. They could only escape condemnation by naming others who were similarly associated with communism. The graver injustice, however, was the fact that many of those who were incriminated had not the slightest connection with communism but were the targets of those who had been condemned and who wanted to be released from that state.

At its inception the movement only involved politicians and those who held high office in society. However, the disease spread and other spheres of life began to be affected too. Not the least of those affected were those involved with the theatre and cinema industry in Hollywood. Among them was Arthur Miller, by then a celebrated playwright. The Crucible is Miller's response to McCarthyism and his own plight as one of those accused and incriminated by that movement.

The plot deals with the Salem witch-hunt of 1692. Described as "one of the strangest and most awful chapters in human history", the witch-hunt was set in motion by puritans in the Church who tried and executed all those associated with witchcraft. The witch-hunt was, strangely, triggered by the accusations of a group of young girls who had been suspected of dabbling in the dark arts.

Forgiveness was granted to those who pleaded for their lives on condition they named other members of their sect. This provided an ample opportunity for false accusation to those who had grievances against their fellow citizens. The Crucible recounts one of the greatest tragedies ever because it tells of one of the worst stories of human betrayal. It is also a story of reluctant heroism - and grace under pressure.

- Thalitha Mathew

S. Thomas' College Christmas programme

If you were to take a walk around S. Thomas' College this term you just might have the opportunity of hearing the strains of Sweet Bells Of Bethlehem echo in the corridors.   

Children of varied ages flocking around the piano joyously singing out the perennial favourite Jingle Bells and the band practicing outdoors to the tune of Deck The Halls is only a part of the 'Christmassy' feeling you would experience during this festive season.

This is the most magical time of the year and the Thomians are about to treat theatre goers in Colombo to a Christmas programme with a difference.

Known as Christmas Perpetua, this novel Christmas programme comprising two segments is guaranteed to herald the Christmas season in a very special way. The first part of Christmas Perpetua consists of the Christmas story portrayed from an entirely unique perspective and depicted through a stylised drama with dance and movement, choreographed by Shohan Chandiram and a chorus of 125 voices directed by Mary Anne David.

The second session will bring on the typical Christmas nostalgia. An audience sing along to the much loved Christmas favourites hosted by Shanaka Amarasinghe and Delon Weerasinghe are guaranteed to keep the audience singing and tapping its  toes.

To make the evening a truly "Christmas family outing" the organisers have planned for an outdoor mini carnival with gifts, fun stalls, and a variety of food stalls offering choice cuisine with which to begin the Christmas binge. A party of carolers outdoors against a brilliant fireworks display and giant Christmas tree will complete the atmosphere and entertain.  

Christmas Perpetua is a unique production directed by Vinodh Senadeera and presented by the S. Thomas' College Drama Society. The Christmas programme is produced by Jeevan Goonetilleke and will be held on December 11, 12, 13, and 14 at the College Sports Complex from 8pm onwards.

Magic of a bygone era..

"Music memories and good old fashioned Meloney Magic" is one of the well known catch phrases on commercial radio in Sri Lanka. To many from the '60s and the '70s it has been one of the few continuous links of commercial identity the S.L.B.C.'s English service has had, when one considers the commercial service has had numerous name changes, some of which took away the very commercial identity it was supposed to have. So naturally listeners to the station's English service will always remember "Music Memories and Good Old Fashioned Meloney Magic" the catch phrase associated with one of Sri Lanka's popular broadcasters, and now the only broadcaster to continue broadcasting from his home in Perth, Western Australia.

Listeners have heard him so much on radio, heard so much about him over the years, and admired his style and choice of music. His refined and well modulated voice sounds the very heart and soul of commercial radio. But how is it possible for anyone to meet him? When he is in Sri Lanka he is only heard and seldom seen. It was the same when he lived in this country many years ago. He is an intensely private man. In order to meet him, I got in touch with Music Guru Lakshman Morias, managing director, Music Mart, Colombo, who also happens to be Derek Meloney's manager. A quick email to Perth and contact was established.

There were no secretaries, producers, operation staff and all the hoopla that usually surrounds Derek in Colombo. Just himself, a kind, very private man so very unlike the image he projects on air. I ask myself is this the same Derek Meloney? Well there was only one way to find out, I asked to visit the famous Meloney Magic studios where his popular programme Chain Reaction is produced.

"Why of course," said Derek, "A visit to my studio is a must," " Not just a visit, you are going to be a part of my next show," and so it was that I witnessed the master at his craft, it was an experience I shall never forget. I have never seen the inside of the Torrington Square studios that made this broadcaster so famous, but I have been to the Meloney Magic studios in Perth to record with the man himself. I almost heard you ask what is he like as a person? He is a man who only lives in Perth whilst his heart and soul is with Sri Lanka and the S.L.B.C. A quiet man, leading a quiet life, waiting for the phone to ring, when it does it is a call from Sri Lanka, he says, "They want more of Music Memories and Good Old Fashioned Meloney Magic."

- G.O

Chance to sing along again

The Moratuwa Arts Forum (MAF) is once again busy organising the 2003 Sing-along Festival which will go on the boards on November 30, at Hotel Ranmal in Moratuwa.

According to the co-Chairmen of the Committee,Priya Peiris and Laksiri Fernando, the Committee is sparing no pains to ensure that this show will surpass all the previous shows in quality and content.

This is the seventh consecutive year that MAF is organising this event.

Down Memory Lane Sing-along show, the brainchild of Priya Peiris, has been a roaring success each year and has now become the prime oldies sing-along show in Sri Lanka.

The proceeds of this show will be channelled for the development of the youth in Moratuwa in the field of arts through the Moratuwa Arts Forum.

Catch em' live!

To co-incide with the England cricket tour to Sri Lanka British High Commission and the British Council are sponsoring a visit to Sri Lanka by two award-winning BBC 1 DJs, Bobby Friction and Nihal. Bobby Friction and Nihal present a dance show on BBC Radio One. Bobby Friction and Nihal present broadcasts every Saturday night and is an award-winning mix of the hottest Asian beats and flavours. After only six months they were awarded a prestigious Gold Sony Award for Best Specialist Radio Show.

They regularly DJ at top clubs in London and Birmingham. Bobby Friction was a resident DJ at the legendary Swarj @ The Blue Note in London, which showcases new Asian talent and sounds, and the equally renowned Shaanthi in Birmingham, the first Asian club outside London which completely redefined the British Asian musical experience. He has recorded tracks with the Mercury Music Award nominated Black Start Liner, and is currently finishing his debut album. Nihal is also a music journalist and has guested on and fronted music shows on MTV, BBC and Channel 4.

Bobby Friction and Nihal will be at the following venues: November 24 and 25 - Colombo at 'My Kind of Place' Taj Samudra Hotel at 9.30 p.m., Friday, November 28 Kandy at 'Le Garage' Le Kandyan Hotel also featuring Iraj n da Ill Noize Cru With Urban Sounds at 9.00 p.m., Sunday November 30 - Unawatuna at Unawatuna Beach Resort once again also featuring Iraj N Da Ill Noize Cru with Urban Sounds at 8.30 p.m.

Bobby Friction and Nihal will also be running a workshop for radio DJs on November 26 at  'My Kind of Place', Taj Samudra Hotel, Colombo, from 12.30 p.m. to 6.00 p.m. The workshop will concentrate on working with music beds and jingles, presentation skills, programming and scripts, and radio dos and don'ts. Admission is free (limited to 25 participants). Prior registratison accepted on a first-come first-served basis at the British Council's Arts Office open from 9.30 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. from Monday to Friday.

By popular demand - The Sooriya Show

Very rarely has there been so much enthusiasm shown for a musical show as for the Sooriya Show at the BMICH in May this year. What is the draw? It could very well be the music of yesteryear which many music lovers carry in their hearts, especially of a popular radio show that was a great hit at a time when the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation was the only electronic medium in this country.

Not only was the Sooriya Show a glamorous radio programme but it was also a great hit on stage when and wherever it was held. The Sooriya Show was much sought after as a stage show in Colombo as well as the outstations.

The popularity of the Sinhala pop artistes that were recorded on the Sooriya label combined with the charismatic popularity of the compere of the star spangled Sooriya Show, Vijaya Corea, lent itself unfailingly to fill the hearts of audiences with joy.

The net result of all this has been an unparalled demand for a repeat performance. Now, by popular demand, the star spangled Sooriya Show will be held on Saturday, November 29 at 7.00 p.m. at the BMICH.

Vijaya Corea, who compered the show then and also presented the Sooriya Show on radio, will once again compere this show. Damayantha and Rajiv of DR Entertainments, who have spared no pains to make this repeat performance bigger and better, are overjoyed with the public response evinced thus far to the Sooriya Show. They will ensure that the same artistes will perform but not sing the same songs. They will provide a new and refreshing treat, even for those who saw the show the first time.

Painting exhibition

A painting exhibition titled Sharada Siththam by the students of the Sharada Kala Nikethanaya will be held on November 28 and 29 at the Indian Cultural Center from 10am to 6pm.  

The Chief Guest at the exhibition will be Indian High Commissioner Nirupam Sen.  The Sharada Kala Nikethanaya is 10 years old. However since its inception on February 13, 1983, the Sharada Kala Nikethanaya had until recently conducted courses only in the fields of music and dance. But with the introduction of popular painter Upasena Gunewardene a course in painting was introduced. While Jagath Ravindra and Anura Handunetti contributed towards this three-year diploma course the students at the Sharada Kala Nikethanaya have been successful in holding three exhibitions up to date.

Kosala Priyum Kumarage a teacher at the Sharada Kala Nikethanaya will also display a number of the paintings at this exhibition.

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