‘Gods Stars’ on Stage in Batticaloa
The Batticaloa workshop produced a drama titled ‘Gods Star’ which was held at the Municipal Council Hall, Batticaloa on the 27th of February 2017. The participants performed a short drama and four dance items which were well presented on stage. The Bishops in Battocaloa, clergy, community leaders, parents and children as well as the Chairpersona and staff members of the Foundation were a part of the large audience in attendance.
Taking Theatre to the Streets
The Thirappane workshop produced a street drama for the community of Thirappane on the 01st of June 2017 which was held alongside the main road in Thirappane. 15 participants performed in the production which was a drama on narcotics addiction in our society. Sunera performed as part of the campaign against Narcotics which was organized and sponsored by the Divisional Secretary of Thirappane.
Spreading our wings to Mullaitivu!
Sunera Foundation started its 37th workshop in the District of Mullaitivu on May 2017. The workshop is held at MARDAP (MN/Association for Rehabilitation of Differently Abled People), Mulleyaweli, with 19 participants attending the workshop. The Sunera workshop is the first of its kind and is reaching out to the disabled community in Mullaitivu who have limited or no access to any form of help and support. We are excited to see the developments of our participants in the Mullaitivu workshop in time to come.
The ‘Process of Play’ Theatre workshop was held in Colombo from 24th – 28th October and in Kandy from 30th October to 3rd November. Jenny Sealey the Artistic Director of the Graeae Theatre Company U.K, led the threefold project, working with our trainers, participants, mothers and fathers. The project provided Sunera Foundation’s 35 trainers the opportunity to rediscover and develop their creativity, build their confidence, develop their leadership skills and increase their knowledge on disability and the disability arts.
The parents workshop was an opportunity for the them, to remind themselves of their hopes and dreams and to share their frustrations and fears. They were also taught how to create a dramatic framework through which they can tell their stories and share it with the wider community and policy makers.
Process of Play gave all the stakeholders the much needed international exposure of learning not just new techniques, but also a creative experience to remember. The last day involved the trainers putting into action the techniques which they had learned with a group of our participants in the presence of the media, who gave awareness to our work and the disabled community in Sri Lanka.
A few things the Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre Company U.K had to say after the ‘Process of Play’ training workshops…
– A different Romeo and Juliet but still with elastic and paper!! Simple things but full of creativity. Truly wonderful.
– Seriously wonderful – they created the story of Cinderella in an hour!
– It has been an awesome experience. It has been such a learning curve and there is so much potential with trainers, participants and Mothers.
– Proud of our trainers!
We were proud to receive an award from the Ministry of Social Services, Sri Lanka, for our work. The Ministry assessed the services rendered in 2015 to the less privileged in society by charitable organizations who receive nothing in return, and selected Sunera Foundation as one of the worthy winners for the award. The award was received by our Executive Director, Chandrika Subasinghe at the ‘Susevabhimani Awards Ceremony 2016′, held on the 10th of November 2016.
WINGS 2016, a festival of arts which highlights the role of arts in reconciliation was organized by FLICT (Facilitating Initiatives for Social Cohesion & Transformation), ONUR (Office for National Unity and Reconciliation), National Arts Council Sri Lanka and the European Union and was held during the months of October and November 2016. The festival travelled through Killinochchi, Ampara and Colombo.
Sunera Foundation was invited to perform our drama ‘Beyond Borders’ which is based on the theme of reconciliation and integrated two communities through our workshops in Anuradhapura and Jaffna. The event was held on the 10th of November 2016 at the University of Visual & Performing Arts. We also performed a dance item at the festival on 13th November 2016 at the BMICH.
WINGS also has a series of discussion based workshops, in which our senior trainers Sandun Dissanayake was a panelist at the session on Healing through Arts and Drama.
The 3 dramas produced for Samanalayaya 2016 by our workshops in Puttalam, Anamaduwa and Chilaw were performed once again at the District Secretariat hall in Puttalam on 18th October 2016 .This event was organized by District Parliamentarian Mr. M.H.M. Navavi and the Divisional Secretariat Office, of Puttalam. Our trainers of these three workshops were felicitated at the end of the event for the work they do so well in the community through the Sunera workshops. Many dignitaries were a part of the large audience.
A theatrical performance by the Jaffna workshop was held on the 29th of July 2016 at the Arc in Uduvil. The drama was based on the unfortunate situation which currently prevails in the Northern Province, which is sexual abuse. It was enacted in a subtle and sensitive manner but brought out a deep and hard hitting message that society needs to hear and deal with. The script was written and produced by the Jaffna trainers with some help from the Anuradhapura trainers with the final touches. Performed very well by the participants, it was greatly appreciated by the full house present. Among the audience was the Additional Government Agent for Jaffna, nuns from the Arc school, teachers, parents caregivers and members of the community. It was indeed a success and an achievement to be proud of by the Jaffna workshop.
‘A Tribute to Mary Billimoria’, a concert of classical music, was performed at the Lionel Wendt Memorial Theatre, Colombo on the 18th of June 2016. Four magnificent pianists, the internationally acclaimed Rohan De Silva and Sujeeva Hapugalle, along with Soundarie David Rodrigo and Ramya De Livera Perera, came together to pay tribute to their teacher Mary Billimoria who gave them the musical foundation and taught them the skills needed to excel in the field of music as they have done today. They were accompanied by Lakshman Joseph de Saram and the principal players of the Chamber Music Society of Colombo on the violin, along with Dushy Perera on the cello.
Famous pieces such as Beethoven’s Piano Trio Op.1 no.3 in C minor, Allegro con brio, Frederic Chopin’s Ballade No 3 in A Flat Major, Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No 2, Johannes Brahms’s Two Hungarian Dances and Antonin Dvorak’s Piano Quintet no. 2 in A major were some of the pieces played with versatility and precision in beautiful harmony.
It was a full house, and indeed a memorable night for the audience who gave the musicians a standing ovation. A huge thank you to the musicians for believing in our cause and for all their efforts, to our sponsors and advertisers, and all those who helped us in so many ways to make the concert a great success. The premier sponsor of the event was Fairway Holdings.
Great concert! Selection of music was perfect. Enjoyed it hugely. Well done and thank youChandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga
Was an outstandingly memorable and classy musical evening. Probably among the top events we’ve had in this city Arun Dias Bandaranaike
The concert was wonderful Shyam Selvadurai
Congratulations on a fantastic show Nimalka Morahela
You pulled off an amazing show Sivaaji De Zoysa
Super evening Rohan Ponniah
A brief word of thanks for that evening of exquisite pleasure Dhaneshan Casiechetty
Thank you for a wonderful concert! Music was so good Sharadha De Saram
Fabulous Concert. Bravo, bravo Anoma Wijewardena
The choice of performers and the music with the variety provided with duets, two pianos, solos and quartets made the evening out of the ordinary Shirin Amerasinghe
‘Samanalayaya’ or ‘A Field of Butterflies’ is a familiar name among our participants, their families, our well wishers and supporters. The drama festival is the highlight of the Sunera calendar bringing together over 1000 disabled participants from 29 Sunera Foundation performing arts workshops spread across the country, to showcase their talents.
The journey began with each workshop rehearsing a play which is conceptualised, scripted and directed by the Sunera Trainers, six months prior to taking the stage. This led to nine regional drama festivals which were held during the months of February and March 2016, in different areas, for the local community. The unique feature of each of these theatrical pieces was that every participant in these 29 workshops played a part in their workshop performances. This brought much joy not only to the participants, but to their families who had little hope for their children, their community who witnessed their abilities, and to their trainers who saw the fruits of their commitment to enhancing the lives of these young disabled persons.
These performances were evaluated by a panel of judges and the best three plays were selected for the finals in Colombo. This year’s best dramas were produced by Dehiwala, Imaduwa and Kuliyapitiya workshop participants, who took the stage for the finals and shone in talent and enthusiasm. The finale of ‘Samanalayaya 2016’ was held on May 18th at the Lionel Wendt Memorial Theatre, Colombo.
The first play of the evening, titled ‘Akuru Wepuru Hena’, was performed by the participants of the Dehiwala workshop and dealt with the current Elephant Human conflict faced by villagers of Sri Lanka. This story was set in a village in which lives a farmer and his family who are subject to periodic attacks by elephants. The livelihood and lives of the farming community are thus at great risk. The elephants in turn are threatened by human encroachment as more jungle areas are cleared for cultivation. Meanwhile, the younger people of the community have their own difficulties and disruptions of their activities. As the story and the plot unfolded, the cast presented the message of being united through the challenges which always ends well.
‘Okkoma Minissu’, performed by the participants of the Imaduwa workshop took the stage second with a clear message on reconciliation. This story focused on conflicts between and among human beings the world over, which inevitably lead to hostility, alienation, destruction and death. The story set in an orphanage situated in a war zone, showed that despite superficial differences, all of us share a common humanity, when they bravely housed a wounded soldier and a rebel, standing up to recognize and respect this reality.
The third drama of the evening was presented by the participants of the Kuliyapitiya workshop, and was a comedy titled ‘Kema Rahai’. The story was set in a restaurant in a small town where the cooks and waiters are busy taking orders from the customers and preparing food. Everything seems to go smoothly until some customers begin feeling unwell and stumble out of the restaurant. The laughter from the audience escalated when the inspectors came to check the restaurant and the staff had to get their act together with little time and plenty of rats and cockroaches! Again, a team effort from the waiters, cooks and the owner himself, got the restaurant up and running again, in good order.
The two lively dance items presented by the Dehiwala, Maharagama, Thirippane, Anuradhapura Palugaswewa and Kekirawa workshops had the audience applauding and cheering!
A noteworthy performance was given by the mothers of the Negombo workshop when they took the stage with an entertaining dance item which was appreciated by all. Samanalayaya 2016 saw the dedicated involvement of the parents’ committees in supporting the performances not only off stage with logistics but also on stage where many of them acted alongside their children in some of the performances.
Samanalayaya 2016 was yet again a success! While raising awareness about our work with the disabled, using the performing arts as a therapeutic tool, this drama festival instills self-confidence in our participants and facilitates the integration of the biggest minority group in Sri Lanka, into main stream society.
Viocello, a classical music concert featuring Joshua Roman, acclaimed cellist from the USA, Sri Lankan born, renowned violinist Mandhira de Saram from the U.K and our very own Ramya De Livera Perera on the Piano was held at the Lionel Wendt on 15th February 2015. It was indeed a great success with a full house and captivating music by the three brilliant musicians.
Photos Courtesy The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka)