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Sunday, 27 July 2014

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Samanalayaya 2014:

Differently-abled showcase their potential

Shedding light on the talents of the differently-abled young people of the Sunera workshops in various regions, the finals of the Samanalayaya 2014 (Field of Butterflies) was held at Lionel Wendt recently.

Three dramas and two dance items were staged that night with talent that left the audience in speechless raptures. This year's best dramas were produced by Anamaduwa, Kobeigane and Thalawa workshop participants who performed at Lionel Wendt.

"City Lights" is one drama that tried to make a difference. The plot is a simple comedy where a Gamarala (a villager) with his wife, visits the city for the first time. But the important feature in the drama is that the main character, the wife of the villager, who was good in acting beyond expectations, was having speech impairment and was incapable of making legible sounds.

The marvel of Sunera trainers is that she was given a main role and dialogues too, though incomprehensible when she speaks. The remedy taken was that by the dialogues of other characters, the audience could understand what she might have said or meant. It is commendable how the trainers have not tried to hide the disability but admit it but still show that these young people are talented.

A drama that captured the attention of the audience for 20 minutes though it did not contain a single dialogue is "One Good Turn Leads To Another".

The trainer being deaf and dumb, was unable to direct a drama with dialogues; therefore, he produced one without dialogues and succeeded in his attempt.

The drama Raigamaya and Gampolaya reminded the audience of the old folk tales they listened to as children.

It is commendable how the actors were used for multiple characters throughout the drama, from pipelines to cows and people.

The dialogues and actions of the actors truly captured the essence of the village in Sri Lanka.

There were two dances too, at the drama festival.

A girl in a beautiful red costume danced to her hearts contentment to a famous Sinhala movie song.

A sight to embrace and a memory to carry with you to ponder upon in a pensive moment. She forgot her disability and she made us too, forget her disability. She proved she was talented and worthy of applause.

The second dance was for the popular song, Gangnam Style.

The dance movements were quite advanced and included headstand and backspin.

It was surprising to know that that all members of the dancing team are having either autism or Down syndrome.

The Samanalayaya Drama Festival is the key event in the Sunera calendar organised to showcase the creativity of Sunera participants from its workshops around the island. The annual drama festival is gaining momentum every year as it becomes an event much looked forward to by the participants, their families and the public.

Leading up to the final performance in Colombo were nine regional drama festivals held over three months, showcasing the talents of over 1,000 differently-abled participants from 25 Sunera Foundation Performing Arts Workshops spread across the country. Each workshop performed a play which is conceptualised, scripted and directed by Sunera Trainers, and rehearsed by the participants for of six months.

As in every year, the regional performances of the Samanalayaya 2014 were held successfully where workshop participants had the opportunity to showcase their skills in dancing and drama to a public audience made up of their friends, family and the community from their locality.

The regional drama festivals create public awareness on the unique work done by Sunera, using the performing arts as a therapeutic tool for the differently-abled.

It also gives our participants an opportunity to get on stage and showcase their talent and creativity to their communities.

The regional performances were evaluated by a panel of jury and the best three plays were selected for the finals in Colombo.

The Sunera Foundation has organised the drama festival to raise public awareness about the creative talents of the differently-abled by showcasing their potential.

This would not just instil self-confidence in them, but also facilitate the integration of this marginalised group into main stream society.

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