Dutu Thena Allanu,
Kaushalya Fernando's latest theatre production :
latest drama production by Kaushalya Fernando, Dutu Thena Allanu
(Wanted) is on board again on June 5 at Lionel Wendt Theatre at 3.30 and
6.45 p.m. The play was premiered on 12th and 13th December 2015 at the
same venue and was well received by the audiences. Dutu Thena Allanu is
an adaptation of Opera Wonyosi by Nobel Prize-winning dramatist and poet
Wole Soyinka. The play is a satirical representation of a decadent,
post civil war military regime in Nigeria and the economic upsurge
created by oil extraction that resulted in social, political, and
cultural decadence was the backdrop under which Soyinka created Opera
Wonyosi. His script is an Africanisation of Bertolt Brecht's Three Penny
Opera and John Gay's 18th century ballad opera, The Beggar's Opera,
which also influenced Brecht's work.
Adapted from both these texts in 1977, Soyinka staged a powerful
satire that explored the corrupt socio-political conditions prevailing
in contemporary Nigeria. Murderous mayhem, institutionalised crimes such
as assault and torture of prisoners, murders committed in broad
daylight, mass scale concerts and funfair that devour resources, a
culture of impunity, bribe and ransom taking, the madness of hording
valuables, public places tainted with blood, streets congested by
commotions and fights, etc. is the socio-political hell that was
Nigeria, at that time. Wole Soyinka's theatrical attempt was to awaken
his fellow citizens who were in a stupor, letting themselves be abused
and taken advantage of.
The opera made them initially laugh at the abuse victims within it,
leading to their realisation of their own sad plight. Today, Kaushalya
Fernando presents to us, a reproduction based on Wole Soyinka's Opera
Wonyosi, recreated to suit the Sri Lankan socio-political scenario.
Macheath in Dutu Thena Allanu is a notorious professional bandit who has
established himself as a significant entity. Anikura is a businessman
who has started a beggars' society and has succeeded in mastering the
business of begging. He has a crafty knowledge of how to win the
sympathy of people and is the proprietor of a business school for
beggars. The higher ups in the Police and the Judiciary, as well as
Emperor Boky (Bokassa), the eccentric leader allow these racketeering
businesses to thrive as they cannot safeguard their corrupt existence if
the criminals are not supported and taken care of.
the clergy have become corrupt comedians swaying under these abusive
power structures. The citizens who are compelled to look on, are
victimised by the thieves, racketeers, and the state. The leaders, the
higher ups, and the powerful reign with supreme power and good fortune.
The powerless is without much luck even if they obey the powerful. This
is the society that Dutu Thena Allanu creates on stage. This interesting
satirical theatre production presented to us using energetic dance and
music, will fill the local stage with merriment, leading us towards
Thena Allanu is Kaushalya Fernando's third theatrical production at
national level. Earlier she had produced Sanda Langa Maranaya (Garcia
Lorca's Blood Wedding) and Maask Henrik Ibsen's The Public Enemy).
Kaushalya Fernando who has been a teacher of drama for a long period of
time, is, at present, the Creative Director of Somalatha Subasinghe Play
House, the Drama School inaugurated by her mother, Somalatha Subasinghe.
Kaushalya strongly believes that the theatre experience should be an
aesthetically pleasing one for the audience. Therefore, she believes
that any complex socio-political experience could be taken to the public
by using an engaging presentation style.
Dutu Thena Allanu is presented by Somalatha Subasinghe Play House
which is also known as the Lanka Children's and Youth Theatre
Foundation. It was established in 1981 by veteran dramatist Somalatha
Subasinghe and has presented numerous children's and youth theatre
productions as well as mainstream theatre for the local audiences. It is
the representative organization for the international children's and
youth theatre association, ASSITEJ. It further conducts a series of
creative activities for small children.
Music Direction of Dutu Thena Allanu is by Chinthaka Jayakody.
Lighting design and Choreography is by Chandana Aluthge. Costumes and
stage props is by Thisara Imbulana. The cast includes Dhanushka Dias,
Shanaka Fernando, Thilakshini Ratnayake, Mayura Perera, Nilanka
Dahanayake, Saviour Kanishka, Yashodha Rasanduni, Poojana Dandeniya,
Dilum Buddhika, Kumudu Wickramathanthri, Chamara Gamaethige, Thilina
Perera, Gyathri Ekanayake, Thiwanka Don Ranasinghe, Sameera Lakmal
Wimalasiri, Duminda Sandaruwan and Hasarinda Kesara Liyanaarachchi. All
actors are trained at Somalatha Subasinghe Play House.