MUST-SEE: ‘Meya Thuwakkuwak Nove!’ This is not a gun!

UDAN FERNANDO

20th August at 7 p.m. at the Lionel Wendt Theatre. Go get yourself and a friend a ticket. Details here !

Seeing Chamila Priyanka’s Meya Thuwakkuwak Nove left me with a flurry of thoughts, moved by the gust of politics created by the play. I still have not fully recovered. It was such a powerful play. I am still in a state of disbelief that this play is directed by an amateur director; that this is his debut.

meya thuwakkuwak nove featured

Genre-wise, the play is close to a political satire, but Chamila has not succumbed to the recent trend in Sinhala theater: very superficial renditions of the contemporary political context in which the audience indulge in a brief spell of thrill and amusement by guessing the play’s characters in real life – “oh this is Duminda Silva”… “no, that’s actually Mervin Silva”, so on and so forth.

Chamila has successfully transcended this calling out for well-deserved appreciation and praise for his political maturity and theatrical acumen.

He courageously treads a dangerous minefield by discussing the politics of religiosities in Sri Lanka, particularly the contemporary twists and turns in the institution of Buddhism in a hyper ethno-nationalistic backdrop colored by an aura of triumphalism and a militarized culture that permeates every nook and corner of our society.4

I hesitate to call this a ‘youth play’, though Chamila, as well as his cast and the production team, are in the prime of their youth. The reason is that they do an excellent job of work, almost on par with the so-called “seniors and professionals” in Sri Lankan theater. Though we have not heard their names before, these actors appear reasonably trained and definitely serious in what they do. Their acting is refreshingly good and makes a lasting bond between the players and the audience throughout the play.

What an ingenious idea to have an old yellow Lambretta scooter as the main prop of the play? It conjures up multiple meanings and symbolic values related to the plot of the play, and adds a sharp visual irony to the stage.1

Chamila seems to be a visionary as he had coined the name of the play as far back as in late 2012, which precedes the recent ‘playful act’ by a Mayor in a Southern city. Chamila Priyanka needs to be congratulated for his achievement and thanked for giving us a wholesome theatrical treat.

Chamila has indeed made his debut with a big bang but he remains humble and modest with his characteristic coy smile.

Udan Fernando, PhD Researcher Visiting Academic, Open University of Sri Lanka.

Photocredits: Achintha Dahanayake

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