Unlocking Emotions | Page 7 | Daily News

Unlocking Emotions

Teacher in Charge, Chithranie Abeyratne
Teacher in Charge, Chithranie Abeyratne

The dramatists of Musaeus College have learnt to appreciate the unique beauty of drama, its relevance and its timelessness. They have learnt to unlock what has been dormant within them, learning of life on stage. Dramatic Moves feature the dramatists of Musaeus College whose lives have been enriched through drama.

Teacher in Charge, Chithranie Abeyratne, a product of Southlands College Galle, has been a versatile dramatist herself acting the role of Shylock in Merchant of Venice and Mark Antony in Julius Caesar when she was a school girl.

“These students gain a lot by doing drama and they really enjoy it. It brings out their talents. By acting on stage they build up their personality. I have been teaching drama for quite a long time in many other schools. I have taught at boys schools and when I look back I can see how far they have gone. They are now holding very responsible positions and they have a good understanding about others. The girls are the same and I can see how enthusiastic these students are. They love to come out of the classrooms and display their talents. They enjoy and share and work in unison. They learn how to get on in society. So we have certainly come a long way. I joined Musaeus College around four and a half years back and we formed a new drama circle,” said Abeyratne.

“At school level in the year 2016, we staged three dramas, The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertold Brecht, Hamlet by Shakespeare and Happy Wives (a script by the teacher in charge). I organized a competition amongst the students and they were awarded for their performances on criteria such as acting, stage management ect; receiving certificates and medals. So the talents of the children were appreciated,” said Abeyratne.

Abeyratne added that life would be very dull if you are only confined to the classroom. She recalls the famous speech by Mark Antony – ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend me your ears, I come to bury Caesar not praise him.’

“He made the people understand what has happened. Brutus had misled the people. I would have been around 15 or 16 years when I played Mark Antony’s character and Shylock. Mark Antony was a true friend of Caesar. He did not betray Caesar. He was really sorry about what happened to Caesar. He wanted to convince the people as to who Caesar was. When Caesar was offered the crown thrice, he refused it. Mark Antony made the people understand that Brutus had misled them. He was capable of convincing the people through his speech. Caesar was a great person who won a lot of wars. People become jealous when others show their capabilities.

That is what is really happening in today’s society as well. When some show talent and capabilities, others become jealous. They somehow want to destroy that person. Brutus pretended to be a sincere friend of Caesar, and betrayed Caesar.

He stabbed Caesar to death. Children can learn so much from these plays. People can be so close to you, but can you trust them? Children become mature when they learn from these characters. Brutus showed Caesar that he was so close to him, but what did he do? He planned and killed Caesar. But Mark Antony was not like that. He was a true friend of Caesar’s,” explained Abeyratne.

These girls get to know what real life is and when they analyze the characters they can identify the weaknesses or good qualities of the characters.

Easy going

President, Dulya de Silva feels that it was the role of Queen Titania in Midsummer Night’s Dream that is her favourite because it involved her going really deep into the character. Titania is actually a very complex character.

“I really liked playing around with what she does and what she becomes in the end. That was definitely my favourite. She is a very flirty and fun character and because of that I enjoyed enacting her role,” said De Silva.

Another character that appealed to her was when she portrayed the character of a drunken beggar. It was an inter-house drama. It was of course a male role. The story of the man was the story of someone who had lived a really hard life.

“He was one of those people who were struck down by circumstances. So I really enjoyed that character. It was a simple character. I was on stage for a couple of minutes but I was really emotionally connected. Because while doing that drama, we all got very into our characters and we really thought how these people’s lives were. Because of that we got very connected,” said De Silva.

De Silva pointed out that when you do drama you sort of place yourself in the position of those characters.

“You question, what would I do in this situation? What would my character do? After you play something a little bit of that character stays in you forever. We still talk about our dramas. A little bit of the characters we play stay with us. Drama has helped me become a leader and helped me work with people because you learn how to work with different people. You learn to be easy going and mix with all of these people, you learn to be on good terms with them. Drama has made me become a stronger person and I understand people better. I have become nicer,” pointed out De Silva.

Modern life

Vice President, Januki Jayakody felt that it was the character of Quincein Midsummer Night’s Dream that she enjoyed portraying.

“He is a lot like me personality wise, because he is a pessimist I think and he has the type of aura where he gets everyone to do what he wants them to do. I can relate to him personally. That was really nice because that made me understand him more. And I was able to play him better so it was a lot of fun. It was a male role so it was different. But the whole experience was nice and it was fun,” said Jayakody.

In Chalk Circle, Jayakody enacted the role of Blockhead. He does not talk, he just walks around and he limps, he is not a very strong character. At first she says it was hard.

“When I was playing that character, I did not know how to exactly express everything I had to say without words. It was very interesting because when I was playing that character, I had a partner who would boss me around. I felt how he would have felt when someone starts screaming at you even though it is not really your fault and whatever you are doing does not seem to be good enough.

I really liked that character and when I got to play it I started to understand that all people are not the same and they convey things in different ways. I really liked that character even though it was a really short amount of screen time,” said Jayakody.

Jayakody pointed out that what she has gained from drama is an ability to empathize because of the diverse roles she has played. Everyone sees life in a different way.

“You try to relate the character to modern life. When you do that, you learn how society acts. You then find different qualities about yourself that were never brought into light. You learn that you are good at things that you did not really know. When you get into a character you do things you thought were never possible. You unlock these emotions within you. Drama is a lot about creativity and how you perceive things, so it has helped me think, interpret things and make my imagination work,” pointed out Jayakody.

A mischievous character

Joint Secretary, Yalindee Premaratnefelt it was the character of Puck in Midsummer Night’s Dream that she liked the most. “Puck and I are close in this mysterious way. He is a mischievous character. I could relate to that character. Strangely I have always played male roles and I have never played female roles, except once.

More than female roles I have learnt to learn more about male roles-their different ways, and so it has changed me and I have got to know about many things. Through drama I have certainly learnt a lot about people, their different natures and different characters. I think I will never really enjoy playing female roles!” said Premaratne.

Kind of difficult

Joint Secretary, Bendoorie Punchihewa said thatit was the character of Snout in ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ that appealed to her the most. “Unlike my fellow thespians I was nothing like my character! I am a completely different person! At first it was kind of difficult, but under the guidance of my teachers I was able to adapt to my character and it was really nice because that is the beauty of acting. You can actually relate to another character, absorb the aspects of another person who is very different to you. I really liked that character,” said Punchihewa.

Punchihewa recalled a play at an inter-house competition that was a very feminist play.

“That was when I understood what feminism was properly. It was a play where there was a Queen and all the women in the country were helping her to face a war, and every man was standing up against them. I was the person who directed the queen take a good decision when she was mentally imbalanced.

That sort of changed my mentality about how I think of society. That character really inspired me. That was the most emotional character I played. When I played the character of Grusha in the Chalk Circle that also really changed my mindset a lot. I think I am a really good feminist because of those dramas,” stated Punchihewa.

Punchihewa pointed out that it was indeed Madam Abeyratne who introduced them to the beauty of Shakespeare’s plays.

“We did not know much about Shakespeare before. She made us act them out and feel those characters.

I think I have learnt something from these characters. It has added something to my life. Everything I have learnt from drama is important to my life. I am pretty sure I can use all these qualities I have got to make my life even better,” said Punchihewa.


 

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The Musaeus College team competed in the Inter-School Shakespeare Drama Competition 2017 after a absence of many years. This year's production was directed by professional dramatist Bimsara Premaratne - by the invitation of Mrs. Nelum Senadheera, the Principal of Musaeus College. Bimsara who is a past pupil of Musaeus College was also assisted by Mrs. Lilamani Haththotuwegama (sister of the well known dramatist late Mr. Gamani Haththotuwegama) - who is a former Teacher in Charge of Drama at Musaeus College back in the late '90s and early 2'0s.. Bimsara has made many noteworthy performances on stage, small screen and silverscreen... winning many national awards and gratefully remembers the learning she had from the drama gurus - the Haththotuwegamas during her school days.

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