Monday, 26 September 2016

Reigniting theatrical interest in Jaffna’s younger generations

This article was published  in Daily FT web site on 23 August 2014 

By Thulasi Muttulingam
An eight day festival of drama and theatre, specifically targeting children (but also catering to adults), recently came to an end in Jaffna.
Timed to coincide with the Nallur Festival currently ongoing, when people are in a relaxed, entertainment seeking mood as they wend their way along the roads leading out of  the temple after their evening prayers, the festival occurred in a by-lane adjoining the temple precincts from 12-20 August.

Nallur Festival of Theatre Reviving drama and theatre in the peninsula

Published in DailyFT website on 10 September 2016
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By Thulasi Muttulingam

With the recent Nallur Festival that came to an end, concluded also a festival of theatre for theatre-goers in Jaffna. Held nightly to coincide with the Nallur festival for some years now, the plays, put on by the Active Theatre Movement in Jaffna seek to revive the habit of drama and theatre-watching in the peninsula. 

“Four years ago, when we began this effort, we held the plays by the road top on Pointpedro Road so that street (temple)-goers could easily see us and thus be attracted,” says T. Thevananth (46), the Director and Founder of the Active Theatre Movement theatre group. 

“By 2014, we shifted to our current premises in the bystreet of Paanankulam, Nallur Cross Road and managed to get the word out to people through word of mouth. In 2015, we had full crowds attending our venues and this year, people are already asking when we will be hosting our plays again. We have seen a definite improvement in theatre attendance and appreciation over the years therefore. Soon hopefully, will come a time when people will willingly pay to watch our performances. Right now, we still stage them free of charge to the public.”

On par with anything the Lionel Wendt and other theatre venues in Colombo have to offer – indeed, perhaps even superior given the range and depth of social issues explored with just the right touches of finesse, humour and poignancy – it is rather a pity to see such theatre groups struggling for funds and patronage in the north.

Thevananth Thevanayagam, jack-of-all-trades in theatre

This Interview was published in Daily FT on 10 September 2016 
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Thevananth Thevanayagam (46) is the Founder and Director of the Active Theatre Movement, a fast-growing and popular theatre troupe in the Northern Province. He and fellow theatre lovers in the north have worked hard over the years to re-popularise drama and theatre among the local populace. Following are excerpts from an interview: 

Q: Tell us of your own history with theatre? Were you involved in it from your schooldays?

 No, I was a very shy, retiring schoolboy. In the eighth grade I was called on to recite a piece of poetry in front of my class, and broke down halfway through it. I couldn’t manage something even that simple. I therefore never attempted anything close to getting on a stage during my schooldays.

Q: How then did you eventually find your way into drama and theatre?

 It was while I was at technical college after my A’Levels. Some troupe advertised for youth to join; I volunteered and became hooked. I hadn’t done well enough in my first A’Level attempt (math stream) to get into University. After getting involved with the theatre troupe, I re-sat for the Art stream the second time and qualified to read Drama and Theatre at Jaffna University.


Q: Describe your experience at the University?

We got into trouble even before we began. I belonged to the anti-raggers in Uni; we did not believe in kowtowing to the senior students’ unreasonable demands during ragging. They laid down several rules for us freshers. We had to wear only bata slippers; we had to wear vesti and not pants; we could not come to university in our cycles. 

We flouted all those rules. When they prevented us from bringing our cycles into the university, we went by bullock cart instead. One day we dressed up a fellow student anti-ragger as an elderly bullock cart driver. The make-up was so good no one recognised him. The rest of us sat in the cart, drove it all the way into the university, and parked it outside the Kailasapthy Auditorium. 

Leaving the driver behind to guard the cart, we walked over and sipped some tea by the canteen to watch events unfold. We called this invisible theatre – where the audience would have no idea that a theatre was being enacted in their midst, but would participate in it anyway. 

Soon an outraged congregation of senior students swamped the cart and demanded of the driver to know who had brought it in. Unfortunately in the midst of this, it began to rain and the driver’s make-up dissolved. The seniors became even more furious when they recognised him and attacked and dismantled the cart.

We subsequently filed a case stating that we had every right to bring the cart into the premises (the university rules stipulated that students could ride in on any vehicle) and demanded our bullock cart be returned intact.

The university had to close down for a month over this issue. The local papers, especially the Uthayan, gave us a lot of positive publicity for fighting the menace of ragging. This was back in 1992 when it had still not been outlawed. 

Meanwhile, within the University the other students were following a policy of ostracising us as anti-raggers. Even some of the lecturers were not sympathetic. At the official inquiry, we were told that we had acted in a manner to antagonise the other students and thus the incident was mostly our fault. We however held firm to our conviction as to our rights to travel to the university in any vehicle available to us, as the rules stipulated. 

Monday, 16 September 2013

இளையோர் நாடக விழா -2013

ஈழத்து நாடக வரலாறு புதிய பண்டநுகர்வுக் பண்பாட்டுக்குள் தன்னை புதிப்பித்துக்கொள்ள வேண்டிய கட்டாய சூழலில் இருக்கிறது போலும்.
இலங்கையைப் பொறுத்தவரையில் வெளிப்பாட்டு சுதந்திரத்துக்கான ஏது நிலை மேலும் வளர்ச்சியடைய வேண்டிய நிலையிலேயே காணப்படுகிறது. அதிலும் நாடகம் என்ற பலர் இணைந்து பணிசெய்கின்ற கலையைப் பொறுத்தமட்டில் படைப்பு கருக்கொண்டு பிரசவித்தல் வரையில் தடைகள் ஏராளம். இதனால் படைப்பு தறுக்கணித்துவிடுவதற்கு வாய்ப்புக்கள் அதிகம். இலக்கியப்படைப்பாளி தன் கதையையோ, கட்டுரையையோ, கவிதையையோ தான்விரும்பிய படி எல்லை கடந்து பயணித்து படைக்க முடியும் அவற்றை இன்றைய தகவல் தொழிலநுட்பப் உலகில் பிரசுரிக்கவும் வாய்ப்புக்கள் ஏராளம்.

Friday, 5 July 2013

‘மனித உன்னதம்’

நல்ல ஆசிரியர் ஒருவரால் நல்ல சமூகம் உருவாக்கப்படுகிறது. ஆசிரியர் சமூகத்தை வழிப்படுத்தி நல்லதொரு சமூகத்தை உருவாக்கும் பணியைச் செய்பவர்களில் அதிபர்கள் முக்கியமானவர்கள்.
சிறந்த அதிபரை கடலில் பணயிக்கின்ற கப்பலின் கப்ரனுக்கு ஒப்பிடுவார்கள்.; மிக குறுகிய காலத்தில் முடிந்து விடுகின்ற கப்பல் பணயத்தில் கப்பலை வழிநடத்துகின்ற கப்ரன் தன்னை எப்போதும் ‘விழிப்பு’ நிலையில் வைத்து கொண்டு தனது பல்திறனாலும்,  ஆற்றலாலும் பாதுகாப்பாக பயணிகளை கரை சேர்ப்பான்.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

‘வெப்பக் குடுவை’ நாடகப் பாடல்கள்

‘வெப்பக் குடுவை’ நாடகப் பாடல்கள் .

தீ குளிப்பு

கொண்ட கோலமது நெடுந்துயர் தந்தது
கொண்டதின் உறுதியை காட்டென்று கேட்டது
தூய்மையை காட்டவே தீ மிதிபேனென்றாள்
தீயில் குளிப்பது தீர்வென்றெண்ணினாள்
தன் சிதை தான் மூட்டி
தீயில் புகுந்தாள,; சங்கமமானால்

பிள்ளைகள் பரிதவித்தன வீதியில் கிடந்து
பிள்ளையின் அழுகுரல் சாம்பலை உழுதது
சாம்பலிலிருந்து தாயவள் உயிர்த்தாள்
சாம்பலிலிருந்து தாயவள் உயிர்த்தாள்