By Sarah Hannan
English theatre seems to have gotten a new lease of life in Kandy, as the Drama Club of Gateway College Kandy prepares to stage E.F.C. Ludowyk’s He comes from Jaffna, edited by Earnest MacIntyre, tomorrow (28) and Saturday (29) at the Gateway College Kandy auditorium at 6 p.m.
The play, staged on three occasions before, has raised several eyebrows in the past of theatre critics and well-placed public figures that hail from Jaffna. Theatre enthusiasts in Kandy would get the opportunity to have a look at a fresh production this month.
The Morning Brunch caught up with the play’s director, Gateway College Kandy drama teacher Bandhuka Premawardhana, on the challenges he and the cast faced while putting this play together.
“The main thing we were trying to connect to was the Sri Lankan spirit of the play. Performing a Sri Lankan play rather than turning towards a British or American play, we felt, would make us all more closely associated with this country, its values, and contexts.”
We asked Premawardhana about the possible strong critiques that would be expressed once the play is staged, to which he responded: “I understand that certain narratives of the play could be interpreted as problematic, because it portrays certain values coming from Jaffna as negative and backward. However, there is much about the play that we can celebrate, which proves delightful and enjoyable for the school kids to rehearse and perform. It also brings them closer to an English speaking Sri Lankan class and community that is rarely represented in Sri Lankan art.”
Given that English theatre director Jith Peiris had directed the play in Colombo twice in 2013 and 2019, The Morning Brunch asked Premawardhana on whether he drew any inspiration from the previous plays when casting the roles.
“In terms of casting, we did not think of the previous plays, and to be honest we did not think that deeply into the typical characters written into the script as well. We mainly stuck with the objectives of the characters. So if you were to watch it through our production, you might find characters that are not the typical characters of the play. Nevertheless, the characters blend and work well together to carry the plot forward.”
He comes from Jaffna, which will be performed by the students of Gateway College Kandy, revolves around the household of the Rajaratnams, and is set in 1908. The play carries the audience through the relatable joys and challenges of hosting family at home, and carries with it a message through its resolution – there are always two sides to the same coin.
The play is set to entertain theatregoers of all ages, and aims to deliver comedy in various forms, through intellectual and witty jokes, and slapstick comedy as well.
Tickets can be purchased at the entrance on show day.