STAGING CYCLE OF MEMORIES
The theatrical aspect of travel across distance, location and time is known to be fruitful in exploring character and context. Adaptations of classic works in stage performances have an influential history in Sri Lankan theatre. A recent exposition, Fun Home, a musical adapted by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori from Alison Bechdel’s 2006 graphic memoir of the same name was directed by Sashane Perera in Sri Lanka, exemplifying how time and place hold relevance as a mixture of static and fluid entities that shape personalities and entire families.
Travel in theatre looks at a character’s past, present and future. The process unravels narrative and personality. “For me, the most critical part of a production is understanding how I can induce the audience watching the performance reflect upon their own emotions and narratives. If there isn’t an emotional connection to the play as a pre-requisite, I wouldn’t chose to partake in it as I find a necessity to embed authenticity in all my productions irrespective of my role as a director or an actor”.
Sashane’s journey in local theatre began during his later years in school. Involved in a slew of Shakespeare plays, Sashane thereafter ventured into directing. Partaking in the Inter-School Shakespeare Drama Competition, in King Lear (2001), Henry V (2005), Julius Caesar (2005), Sashane also developed productions outside of school. These include The Tale of Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice musical. Sashane also spent time co-directing at Ave Maria Convent in Negombo, resulting in the outstation school winning the inter-school competition. “Shakespeare holds a lot of value in the country. It was at this point people realized Shakespeare can move out of Colombo. Now there’s no category for outstation schools. It’s just one competition”. Instances such as this help revolutionize an industry or cultural field. Having shaken its capital foundation in Colombo, theatre was given the breathing space to accommodate different perspectives. Sashane credits much consolidation and success to Stage Lights & Magic Inc, a pioneering theatre collective in Colombo, and Feroze Kamardeen, its artistic director. Since 2012, Sashane has produced four independent stage theatre productions with the company.
The unique depiction of time and travel allows Fun Home to stand out. Its story revolves around Alison Bechdel, an itinerant lesbian who discovers her father’s adulterous, hidden and ultimately fatal homosexuality. “It was a case of memory play in terms of going back and forth in a non- linear structure. Cycles of memories go back and forth to tell a story about her life”. Sashane believes the critical reflection of the play resonated well. The times ourselves have lived, the experiences we’ve had, and the mixture of regret and pride in decisions made, are relatable. “We’re all creatures of experience”, he muses. The evolution of emotion was created through the placements of memories and contemplations over the course of the story epitomizing the role travel plays in enriching the characters of the play.
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