Visakha Vidyalaya - the winners of the Inter-School drama competition 2012

Visakha Vidyalaya became the winners of the Inter-School drama competition 2012

From the Sunday Times (Mirror) - 15th April 2012

Talent galore on stage

Five schools perform well-known and original pieces at the 2012 inter-school drama competition
By Duvindi Illankoon

If all the world were a stage, then life would certainly be a disappointment. For then there would be no theater; and without theater, Colombo’s entertainment would be rather bereft. The annual Inter-school Drama Competition, presented by the Interact Club of Royal College has become an eagerly awaited event where schools vie with each other on stage and the competition is stiff. It’s Shakespeare without the formalities, and the freedom to choose a script which left room for this year’s ensemble of plays which offered depth and variety.

Bishops College was the first on stage, with an almost word-to-word adaptation of the ‘Dear Departed’. A script by Stanley Hughton, the story revolves around an old man who is mistakenly believed to be dead by his two married daughters, who squabble with each other in a (mostly) polite social setting to divide his possessions amongst themselves. The script with its focus on ironic humour was performed well, but not fully done justice to. While the actors’ comedic timing was good, the cast as a whole failed to bring out the humour of the situation in a delicate manner, instead of choosing to go with a slapstick-style of humour. However, they did manage to make the audience laugh, which is what good comedy ought to do. The acting was reasonable as well-while the two ladies had a tendency for the over-dramatic, the old gentlemen who miraculously ‘rises’ from the dead was played with understanding by Purnima Pilapitiya.
Visakha Vidyalaya - the winners of the Inter- School drama comp 2012. Pix by Hasitha Kulasekera

Ananda College took a risk, adapting one of their own plays to the stage – “He’s Been Writing”, the brainchild of the schools Drama Circle, provided an interesting parallel between reality and imagination. Young directors Ishtartha Wellaboda and Rajitha Hettiarachchi proved to be skilled at manipulating their characters and space, presenting a story of a young woman who cannot come to terms with her lover’s death. While the female characters seemed to lean towards the melodramatic, the young man in question, Peter, was nailed by Lithmal Jayawardhana, who also won the award for Best Supporting Actor later on in the evening. The time he spends in his girlfriend’s father’s prison, plotting to escape and surrounded by delusional cell mates, is poignant. His fellow prisoners were played to perfection while it’s never easy to bring a sense of madness and delusion onto a stage-but these young gentlemen did it and did it well..

Visakha Vidyalaya chose “The Importance of Being Earnest” as their piece and the cast’s take on the piece was a welcome surprise. They nailed the vagaries and nuances of the play to perfection. The story of two young men who use an alias to attract the women they love, was milked for all it was worth. They kept the audience laughing, but stuck to the essence of the story throughout. An amazing performance, with great contributions by the whole cast.

Ladies College presented “The Cop and the Anthem”, the story of a homeless man Soapy and his failed attempts to get arrested at Christmas so he could spend the cold winter indoors in comfort, and his eventual realization that an honest man must make a decent living for himself if he is to be happy. Soapy and his young friend in crime Jimmy were played very well; Soapy seemed to be overly wistful at some points, but it was a convincing performance. Their large supporting cast also contributed greatly to the play-from the cream of society at an upper-class restaurant right down to the maid and the policeman, they did a great job of providing the backdrop for Soapy’s escapades.

Musaeus College was the last to take the stage. Adapting Jeffrey Archer’s “Stuck on You”, the cast proved to be flexible and alert, with great onstage presence and comedic timing when the occasion called for it. The story of a young man who is conned by his fiancé into stealing one of the world’s most expensive diamond rings, the play was well rehearsed and almost impeccable in its execution. The only problem seemed to be the background music, which occasionally ruined the ambience of the setting, and the costume choices of the main characters, but excellent performances overall detracted from those minor details.

The judges-Sulochana Dissanayaka, Thushara Hettihamu and Delon Weerasinghe were unanimous in their agreement that the five schools performed well, and that they clearly had “exposure to theatre, a level of talent and a great support system to balance that out.” They advised the schools to do justice to what could be achieved with the script, and to go beyond the ordinary in its execution.

Ladies College emerged first-runners up while the crew were recognized for support given to their cast members on stage. “Jeremy”, the character in “Stuck on You” presented by Musaeus College won the award for the Most Memorable Performance. The character of “Cecily” from Visakha Vidyalaya was awarded the prize for Best Portrayal, and her school emerged winners of the Interschool Drama Competition 2012. The Importance of Being Earnest”