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Sunday, 10 June 2012





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Rahas Udaviya to premiere at Lionel Wendt

A scene from Rahas Udaviya

Eminent novelist and playwright Piyal Kariyawasam's latest theatre production 'Rahas Udaviya' (Secretive People) is to be premiered at the Lionel Wendt Theatre on June 12 and 13 2012 at 7 pm. 'Rahas Udaviya' (Secretive People) is his second autonomous stage play. The cast is with national award winning actors Kaushalya Fernando, Chamila Peiris, Anasuya Subasinghe and Gihan Fernando, it explores aspects of contemporary urban middle class society in a post war condition.

Here are the excerpts of the discussion that Sunday Observer had with Piyal Kariyawasam about his latest stage play 'Rahas Udaviya' (Secretive People).

"Through my latest production, I wanted to depict this 'moment' of our society. 'Rahas Udaviya' is mainly based on four characters, three female and one male character that are from the urban, middle class.

I understand them as Anarchists who don't agree with the existing socio-political framework. Two daughters (Chamila Peries and Anasuya Subasinghe) illustrate the duality of their mother's (Kaushalya Fernando) past and future," starting the conversation Piyal Kariyawasam briefed his latest production 'Rahas Udaviya'.

"After 30 years of war, we as a society still with an uncertainty. It may due to the impact of the conflict situation and are plagued by many incidents that resonate violence. Isolation, discrimination, elimination, disappearance, and disposal seem to be ingrained parts of society. Para-military groups and related activities continue unhindered. In this situation women's condition subsequent to the war has propelled, if at all, to a more vulnerable state. For example the majority of war victims are women who are isolated in their lives without their husbands and loved ones. Under this backdrop, three members of an upper middle class family try to find solutions to their personal, inner conflicts as well as the social conflict as experienced in an urban context. I tried to portray this in three segments which is outside the traditional theatre format which shift time and space. Through this style I believe I could surpass the reality and I wanted to criticise the traditional relationships rather develop the emotions among the characters. As I believe if someone wants to stand against the existing power politics that someone has to be an Anarchist who deserve ambiguity which is not accepted by the feudal society," he stressed.

Gihan Fernando and Chamila Peries

"Through 'Rahas Udaviya' I tried to stress, by this feudal condition the only possibility lays to liberate the society is not the ones who already victimized but the upper middle class society who are educated and conscious to demonstrate the irony to escape.

In this critical situation the young two daughters are trying to awake their mother who too was a radical thinker in her younger days, but her radical, feminist approach gradually had faded away.

Piyal Kariyawasam

As per my observation this is a common ground reality considering most of the intellectuals and many other radical thinkers who were vivid characters in alternative political trends in Sri Lankan history, which I see as a catastrophe.

As a dramatist I never tried to give solutions or present socio-political ideology through my latest production.

However, by struggle with the existing condition would only create a new socio-political discourse,"

"Other than that with emphasis on the aesthetics of theatre and richly interwoven with traditional songs as well as new verse, 'Rahas Udaviya' (Secretive People) uses aspects of magical realism as it attempts to discuss contemporary issues transcending the barriers and limitations placed by various social institutions and structures that control free thought.

We have experienced some recent stage plays which discuss the socio-political themes in extremely straight forward manner which I don't believe is art. However, it happens if we are trying to illustrate day to day socio-political situation. I deliberately wanted to avoid this in the play and I used time shifting in to past, present and future.

However, I think this method should develop more in future and as dramatists it's necessary to fine-tune this method further to discuss socio-political themes through theatrical approach.

When considering the international theatre they could modify the text to create strong political discourses through theatre while maintaining the theatrical values. I have been reading many science fictions, detective stories and many Latin American stories which have the characteristics of magic realism. From all those novels, fictions that I have read, I'd like to touch upon my themes by the approach of dark comedy.

I think dark comedy is a tactic which dramatists or artistes can use to bypass conservative institutes," he said.

'Rahas Udaviya' (Secretive People) music is by Nadeeka Guruge, the set design by Ruwan Bandara Narasinghe, song movement design by Namal Jayasinghe, lighting design by Bandula Hewage, make up by Priyantha Siri Kumara, stage management by Sanjaya Hettiarachchi, stage management assistance by Sumedha Haggalle, prompting Poojana Dandeniya and Ruwan Deshapriya, still photography is by Rasika Surasena, videography and design of publicity material: Madhawa Nagahawatta, costume design & production management done by Gaya Nagahawatta and script & direction is by Piyal Kariyawasam. 'Rahas Udaviya' is co-funded by the Sunethra Bandaranaike Trust.


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