"We cannot glorify death, whether in the battlefield or otherwise. We, on the other hand, must celebrate life and we are fiercely committed to protecting and securing the sanctity of life, which is the most fundamental value without which all other rights and freedoms become meaningless." – Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam, in Parliament (June 15, 1999).
Very much in keeping with the manner in which he lived his life, ‘Celebrating Diversity’ the aptly titled 66th Birth Commemoration Concert Festival of Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam, presented by the Neelan Tiruchelvam Trust and the International Centre for Ethnic Studies will be held from January 30 to February 2 at the Lionel Wendt.
The festival of music, dance and theatre will kick off at 3.30 p.m. and 7 p.m. on January 30, with the Sinhala play ‘No Return’ (Apahu Harenna Be) written and directed by playwright Rajitha Dissanayake, whose penchant for tackling socio-political issues has set him apart from most other directors. "No Return" has also won awards for the Best Play, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Stage Management and Best Script (runner-up) at the 2009 National Drama Festival.
The play deals with the rather timely issue of media transparency and accountability and how a young idealist, Ajith believes that he can actually bring about change from the inside. Having returned home after his studies, he soon finds himself fighting a lone battle against corruption.
On January 31 at 7 p.m. renowned Indian Carnatic vocalist T.M. Krishna and his musicians will perform for Lankan audiences. Krishna is best known for his undiluted classical music tradition.
Hailing from a family of music connoisseurs, Krishna was exposed to South Indian classical music at an early age. He has travelled widely and received numerous awards and titles from many leading organisations, notable amongst which are the Young Achievers Award by India Today and the Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar Award by the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi. Krishna's resonant and mellifluous voice and strict adherence to classicism has only helped to enrich his art. His music is marked with a high level of aesthetics in conception and forceful execution. He is also well known for his manodharma (imagination) and sampradaya sangeeta (traditional purity of music).
The grand finale, ‘Ravanesan,’ a dramatic presentation of the epic story of Ravana, has been re-created by Prof. S. Maunaguru, together with the staff and students of the Department of Fine Arts, Eastern University of Sri Lanka, Batticaloa. This performance will be at 7 p.m. on February 1 and 2, (with an additional matinee show on February 1 at 2 p.m.). This dance drama will feature the Vadamody and Thenmody Kooththu traditional dance forms, and thus will be a special opportunity for audiences to witness and appreciate the distinct culture of Tamil Folk Theatre from the East.
Ravanesan revolves round Ravana's struggle in keeping up with his stature of heroism in the face of crisis. “Ravanesan” portrays the sufferings and struggles of good-hearted people who are trapped in a war machine. Kooththu is a traditional form of narrative theatre originating from the Tamil community of Sri Lanka.
For more details contact the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES) on 2685085 / 2679745.
‘Celebrating Diversity’ is a fitting tribute to a unique human being, activist, peacemaker and intellectual whose legacy will continue to live on for many more generations to come.