Feroze takes on dark side of life
All the NOIR performances will be staged on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout July at the Punchi Theatre in Borella. Only 200 seats are available and tickets are priced at Rs. 600 and Rs.400. Tickets are sold exclusively on www.etickets.lk.
Dialog users can dial 444 on their Dialog Mobiles and purchase tickets from the Mticket Service. Sponsors for the event are Dialog Telekom, Alankara, Red Bull, Video Image, Leo Burnett Solutions, Nescafe, Yes FM, MTV, Daily Mirror and The Sunday Times.
Like sinfully dark chocolate, Sri Lanka's first theatre festival NOIR, promises to indulge its audience and tempt one to pleasurable excesses. And how could anyone blame you? If six plays, directed by three directors, spread out over four weekends in July is not an invitation to feast, than what is?
"Everyone says that English theatre is sporadic," says actor and director Feroze Kamardeen, explaining that for a change he would like to give audiences a packed theatre schedule that they can anticipate and rely on. Both Feroze and his theatre season Executive Producer - Sirraj Abdul Hameed - are hoping to turn July into the month of English Theatre and consequently every Sri Lankan theatre aficionado's idea of paradise.
And as always, Feroze and his company Stage, Light and Magic, (SLM) are not doing anything in halves. It's not enough to have any old theatre festival - SLM are limiting themselves to plays with disturbing themes laced with dark humour; hence the name NOIR, French for black.
Feroze sees it not only as the interesting thing to do, but also the most practical. "We needed to do plays that we could sustain an audience's interest with," he says, explaining that similarly the choice of hosting the festival at the Punchi theatre was taken for two reasons - the small theatre affords an intimacy and it's also much easier on the budget. "The plays themselves suit that kind of intimacy," he says.
Feroze would be the first to admit that it's a bit of a gamble to take. But he's willing to take the chance. "One of the reasons that people in this country don't appreciate serious theatre is because there is not enough of it…if you don't have access to it then you can't really appreciate it can you?" As if to backup this view, people are coming out of the woodwork to express interest and support, says Feroze. As a result, the team is pushing more and more people to take in the entire festival, and though no season pass is on sale, purchasing tickets to all four shows will earn you a discounted rate.
Not a bad idea really, when you consider that the festival will feature the work of three directors and double that number of plays. "We've got different styles, completely different story lines," he says, adding moreover that as the plays date from wildly different times, "they also capture all the differences of the periods."
Producing four plays has been immensely challenging for the company, reveals Sirraj, explaining that he oversees the three producers, each dedicated to one production. "It's also about passing the mantle, so to speak, and letting other people get some experience." For Feroze too, a large part of the plan is ensuring that every consecutive year of the festival’s existence features more directors, more actors and consequently more enjoyable theatre for Sri Lankan audiences.