DRAMA ACTIVITIES OF THE COLOMBO YMBA
To promote the cultural activities, the Association has produced several Dramas and staged them for the public in the first half of the last century. “Valagambahu’ in 1918, “Return of the Red Dragon“ in 1949 “The Lord of the Three Worlds” in 1953 were a few outstanding productions staged by the YMBA. Apart from producing and staging dramas the drama activities of the Association were further expanded to organize and conduct annual drama competition to a wider circle, giving an opportunity to the younger generation to develop their talents.
The Annual Interschool Drama Contest was inaugurated in 1981, by the Branch Secretary Mr. Sidath Sri Nandalochana, assisted by other members M/s. MW Gunaratne, RN Chandratileke, Donald Jayaratne and Herath Dias. The first contest was also meant to commemorate the Vesak Festival of 1981.The themes of Dramas were based on Jataka stories and it was expected to improve talents of young children, whilst cultivating the Buddhist ethics and values in them. The contest was confined to schools in Colombo District and 15 schools competed at the inaugural event. The preliminaries were judged by Ms. HM Gunasekera, Dayananda Gunawardena, and Mrs. Manel Jayasena, whilst the panel of judges for the finals comprised of Ms. Edwin Ariyadasa, HP Jayaweera and Piyasena Gunatilleke.
In this historic competition Buddhist Ladies College, St. Paul's Milagiriya, Lumbini MV and Ananda College were selected for the finals. Mr RS Wanasundara, Judge of the Supreme Court gracing the occasion as the Chief Guest gave away the prizes to winners. The first prize was Rs. 5,000/- and the second prize was Rs. 3,000/-. During the past two decades the Inter School Drama Competition rapidly grew in popularity after it was opened to all Government and Private schools and Dhamma Schools of the whole island. Schools and Dhamma schools from very remote areas such as Tissamaharama , Hambantota and Tirincomalee not only have been takingpart regularly but have been winning first and second places competing with schools in Colombo and other urban areas.
In order to encourage participation of schools and Dhamma Schools from remote areas, the Drama Committee has introduced award of special prizes to the school taking part from the most remote area even if the participating school is not being placed among the first 10 in the order of merit qualified for prizes.
Several One Day Workshops for directors and producers of dramas also were held by the YMBA to improve the quality of dramas presented by them. Lectures and discussions at these workshops were conducted by veteran producers and directors and academics, M/s. Chandrasene Dasanayake, Wijeratne Pathiraja, Prof. Walter Marasinghe and renowned Drama critic Mr. EMG Edirisinghe. Gradual improvement of Dramas was observed by the panels of judges, who were always the leading stage actors and academics from the Universities.
With the increasing popularity of this project the Board of Management decided and increased the cash prizes awarded to the winners and added 6 consolation prizes to dramas placed from 5th to 10th in order of merit.
The following Challenge Trophies and cash prizes are awarded to the winners
Trophy Cash prize
a. Best overall Drama - Prasanna Goonetilleke Challenge Trophy Rs. 35,000/=
Second Place - Rs. 25,000/=
Third Place - Rs. 15,000/=
b.Best Actor - Rajah Kuruppu Challenge Trophy Rs. 4,000/=
c.Best Actress - Sidath Sri Nandalochana Memorial Trophy Rs. 3,000/=
d. Best Producer - donated by Gomes Trust Rs. 10, 000/=
e. Consolation prizes of Rs. 4,000/= each
Most Remote Schools - Rs. 5,000/=
g.Regular participant - Rs. 5,000/=
In the recent past Malani Fonseka, Irangani Serasinghe, and Dr Jayalath Manoratne , award winning popular stage actresses and actors gracing the prize givings as chief guests , added colour and prestige to the annual event.
The Association provides refreshments to all participating children at preliminaries and semifinals and refreshments and meals will be provided to all participants on the final day. With ever increasing cost of living, the cost of the Drama festival worked out during a period of two months a year is exceeding Rs. 400,000/=, is mainly met out of the funds of the Association and donations received from the well-wishers and drama enthusiasts.
HOW TO TAKE PART IN THE COMPETETION
Annually advertisements are published by the YMBA in Sinhala news papers in February, calling applications to enter the competition of which preliminaries and semi-finals are held in the months of June and July culminating with the Finals in September.