well deserved honour for the maestro
For Pandit W. D. Amaradeva, his 76th birthday on December 5 will
be a memorable one. A stamp is being released on that day in recognition
of the immense service he has rendered to Sinhala music.
This is the
second occasion that a stamp is being issued to honour a living
Sri Lankan artiste. The first was when a Rs 3.50 stamp was released
in honour of the doyen of Sri Lankan cinema, Lester James Peries.
The stamp was released on Lester's 85th birthday - on April 5, 2002.
Amaradeva's will be a Rs 4.50 stamp since the ordinary postal letter
rate has now gone up by a rupee.
It's good thinking
on the part of the Postal Department to agree to the request made
by Kalutara Vidyalaya, where Amaradeva had his early education,
that a stamp would be a fitting tribute to the maestro. It is only
hoped that the Philatelic Bureau will take extra care to see that
there are no blunders in the Stamp Bulletin as it happened in Lester's
case. Along with the first day cover, the bulletin is a collector's
item and goes all over the world. It's best that it is checked carefully
before going to final print.
There are several
other 'greats' who deserve to be recognised. Artistes who have contributed
much in the field of dancing like Chitrasena and Panibharata, or
in theatre like Henry Jayasena, to name just a few are worthy of
being the subject of stamps.
Meanwhile, Amaradeva's latest creation in the field of film music
can be enjoyed when Sumitra Peries' 'Sakman Maluwa' is released
later this month. It's after a fairly long break that Amaradeva
has provided music for a film.
The 47th anniversary of a landmark event in theatre - the staging
of 'Maname' -fell on November 3. On November 3, 1956, Dr Sarachchandra
brought down the 'nadagama' to Colombo with a band of Peradeniya
undergrads. Besides it being a drama based on traditional theatre,
he took up the challenge of staging it at the Lionel Wendt Theatre,
an exclusive preserve of English theatregoers at the time. The first
night didn't attract many people but it picked up when critics raved
over it in newspaper reviews, particularly in the English press.
is not only without question the finest thing I have seen on the
Sinhalese stage; it is also one of the three or four most impressive
dramatic performances in any language which I have been privileged
to attend in Ceylon", wrote R.S. (everyone knew it was the
authoritative critic Reggie Siriwardena) in the 'Daily News'.
Manawasinghe devoted his highly read 'Vagathuga' column in the 'Lankadeepa'
on November 6, 1956 to say what a great drama Dr. Sarachchandra
had produced, the Sinhala theatregoers also took note because Manawasinghe
was never a pro-Peradeniya type. He coined a word 'abhiranganaya'
to describe 'Maname', which he said, was an extremely good production.
While we look
back with happy memories on the early days of 'Maname', it is with
sorrow that we remember the three accomplished players - Ben Sirimanne
(Prince Maname), Trilicia Abeykoon (the princess) and Edmund Wijesinghe
(Veddah king) - who are no more. Of course, we can't forget the
creator, Dr. Sarachchandra and his partner, Charles Silva Gunasinghe
Gurunnanse - both of whom paved the way to make Sinhala theatre
a truly entertaining medium.
To repeat what
R..S. wrote about the latter: "As for Charles Gunasinghe Gurunnanse,
his artistry was not only to be felt in his drumming but also in
the spirit of the whole production. He was so visibly moved by the
end of the evening that he was joining in in the singing from his
appeal from the Wendt
A small advertisement appeared in the last page of the 'Maname'
souvenir of 1956.It makes interesting reading: "The Lionel
Wendt Theatre is available for dramatic, musical and other performances.
Bookings may be made with the Secretary to the Lionel Wendt Memorial
Fund, Mr. S. Mahalingam c/o Carson Cumberbatch & Co.Ltd. Chartered
Bank Building, Colombo 1, from whom the schedule of rates and all
other particulars can be obtained.
Wendt Theatre is only part of the Art Centre Project which, in addition
to the Theatre-Concert Hall, will comprise an art gallery, studios
for practices, painting and rehearsals, a photographic section,
a library, music rooms and various other offices, including perhaps
a small restaurant. "Please help to complete this project.
Donations, however small or big, will be gratefully acknowledged
by the Secretary".