Drama at Visakha is very much a family affair. The girls have grown together and formed strong friendships and in doing so they have committed 100 percent. Dramatic Moves features the Visakha English Drama Society, a tight knit outfit that has done some excellent drama over the years.
A lot of talent
“We have been taking part in Shakespeare Drama at the very first stage. Drama at Visakha has been existing for a long time. We normally take part in Drama Comp. organized by the Royal College Interact Club. We also take part in Shakespeare Drama Competition. Those are the two major events we normally take part in. Recently we have started doing some public productions for the benefit of the Drama Society, to showcase the talents of the students. We have inter-house drama competitions every year – we award the best actor, best actress and supporting portrayals,” said Teacher in Charge Asiri Sammanani Payagala
When it comes to talent they get the best here from all over the country.
“From the scholarship exams we get quite a lot of talented girls into our school, but this is not to say that we don’t have talented girls in our school. We do have quite a lot of talented girls. So this is a good opportunity for them to showcase their talents. They are good in choreography, music and directing. They are quite talented in all those areas. For Drama Comp. some of the seniors directed a few years back and we have won first place,” pointed out Payagala
The parents of the girls are very understanding and it has been very much a process. They let the girls do drama because they know how important it is to the girls.
“Without their support I would have never come this long. Because they have always been the pillar of strength and the staff members are also very cooperative. The principal has always been there with us, where drama is concerned. And especially the old girls, they love drama and they have financially supported us during many given times. They have also supported us, even for the public productions. And every time when it comes to Shakespeare drama they have supported us financially with the costumes and director’s fee,” explained Payagala.
At Drama they have been winning for the last couple of years.
A good way
“Drama Comp. we have won many years. When it comes to practices we think about our girls schedules as well. There are a lot of extra -curricular activities running at school, and many of the girls are not just limited to drama. So we adjust according to their time frames. But we have regular practices every Wednesday from 2pm – 4pm,” added Payagala
The school cover all genres – comedies, tragedies and tragi -comedies.
“We have faced the challenges of finding a director. At first we did not have a permanent director earlier. So it was a bit of a challenge for me when I took over. Luckily we found Chalana Wijesuriya. He has been hardworking and doing the best for the girls.
When it comes to Drama competitions, it takes a long time for the girls to get prepared for that. It takes at least one month.
“It is not easy for us to take part in lots of competitions. Throughout the year if we keep on taking part in competitions, the girls can’t do any other work. The work ethic is hard work with fun. I don’t mind the hard work because at the end of the day when I see them performing on stage that is all I care about. I don’t mind going through all the hard work. That is all I look forward to. That is the best,” elucidated Payagala
When they did Julius Caesar the female version. The girls performed brilliantly there but did not get selected to the final round at all.
“We also did the ‘Brothers Grimm Fairytales.’ There was a lot of team work. We had a big cast. The play was quite outstanding. We enjoyed doing it and the audience also liked it. I think that was a good play. We did ‘Candid’ last year.
The audience liked it. I have watched the performances with quite a lot of enthusiasm. Drama is a good way for them to become confident young ladies. It gives them a lot of confidence. I have seen the timid ones becoming very confident. Sometimes they don’t even know they have that talent. They have discovered their talents,” summed up Payagala
Director Chalana Wijesuriya has been with the girls for a long time. The first opportunity he got after leaving school in 2012 was to work with the girls. Since then he has been with them. He feels it is quite fun working with the girls and that it is a challenge. “They are quite hardworking.” DRAMA RESULTS AT VISAKHA
Royal Interacts Drama Competition
2015 Most Memorable Performance to the entire Ensemble of the play.
2015 Joint Best Supporting Actress Award: Avishka Dedigama, Hiruni Abeywardana.
All Island Inter school Shakespeare drama competition
2009 Runner’s Up and Best Supporting Actress to Naveka Karunaratne
2013 Champions and Best Actress Award to Zaitun Hakeem
2015 Runner’s Up and Best Supporting Actress to Amaya Fernando2016 Champions, Best Actress to Sashini Mudalige, Best Supporting Actress for Rumashi Dissanayake, Best Stage Craft Award.
Togetherness, force behind success
President Hiruni Herath felt that the influence of togetherness and the bonds they have formed have contributed a lot to their success.
“It is our togetherness and sense of family and throughout the years however much all the trouble we have gone through we have always been together as a family. We have faced so many troubles. We have committed 100 percent and we have been here as a family. I keep coming back to the fact that we are a family because it is the most important thing that I have seen at drama at Visakha so far,” said Herath
Herath pointed out that some of the challenges they have encountered may be finding sponsors and getting people together which is also a pretty big challenge.
“Our Drama society is pretty old. Of course we had done Shakespeare throughout the years. We have inter-school house dramas, so we find new faces and recognize the talents. Of course we had done Drama Comp. and we have been champions. We also have a production coming in May. It is all about finding new faces and giving opportunities to kids to get out there and get on stage. Drama is pretty much what all of us do 24/7.When it comes to the competition in the Drama Circuit in Colombo it is very competitive. We see so many new schools coming in. The work ethic is both hard work and fun!,” pointed out Herath.
Team work matters
Amaya Fernando President for 2016 felt that the talent is big at Visakha. She pointed out that a lot of their success can be attributed to the fact that they are very close to each other.
“I think doing Drama benefits you in so many ways, because first of all it gives you that exposure, it exposes you to a lot of different people and you can overcome your stage fright and you become much more comfortable in performing to an audience and when you do Drama you enter into this circle of people that are really special. Getting to know those people is one of the most important things, because it is a family. That is there in every school not just ours. When you do drama together automatically you become a family. Team work and that love that you see in a cast is the most important thing,” explained Fernando.
Fernando took us back through history, citing many milestones in their journey. Actually the girls all admitted that they love to do anything that is different.
“I think there are a lot of talented girls in school, because every time we do a production we see so many new girls coming in from all grades. The girls are quite talented, so it is all about recognizing their talents and bringing them into drama. ‘Candid’ was the first official drama production done solely through the drama club. We got students from Grade 4 onwards to take part in it. It was on June 28 and 29 at the Lionel Wendt. We had a pretty good crowd as well. It was an important milestone for the society as it was the first drama done through the society. We only got outside help to do backstage and directing. Through the OGA we have also done productions before,” detailed Fernando.
There was this one instance where they did a dark comedy for Drama Comp in 2015. It was called 4am. Then also did Titus Andronicus a tragedy for Shakespeare and became runners up in 2015.
“Last year in 2016 we did Romeo and Juliet for Shakespeare, but we did it in a different way. Because instead of focusing on the love story of Romeo and Juliet, we focused on the friendship of Romeo, Benvolio and Mercutio. It was a play about friendship and what those three friends went through in the course of that love story. It was pretty different and the judges and audience also saw that difference. Last year (2016) was pretty special because we won every award that there was. We won Best Supporting Actress, Best Actress and Best Stage Craft. And we also won the competition,” pointed out Fernando
“When it comes to balancing my studies and practices, it is not easy because I am taking on someone else’s role and being that character. So it is really hard to focus on anything else, because we have practices all the time but even though we spend one or two months on a play, and we focus completely on that, our girls at the end of the day always focus on their exams and get through and we have never got any complaints or anything. We find a way to balance it somehow,” shared Fernando
Fernando also felt that Drama at Visakha has grown over the years so much. After their victory at 2013 the enthusiasm has definitely grown.
A winning team!
Hasini Jayawardena spoke about how the girls attempted a very adult play and accomplished it with flying colors. She is also a great help to the team.
“4am is a play written by Jonathan Dorf. It was a play about things that are very taboo in society. Things people do not talk about much. There were sections in the drama – one was about an abused child, one was about a girl who wanted more attention, there was another one about a girl who was dealing with issues. The common thing they all had was they were all awake at 4 am in the morning and feeling very lonely and very alone in their situations. We won that competition actually – Drama Comp. 2015.