Namel-Malini website: The Punchi Theatre’s latest venture | Sunday Observer

Namel-Malini website: The Punchi Theatre’s latest venture

15 January, 2017

A lacuna in Colombo’s cultural landscape is set to be filled with the latest venture by the Namel and Malini Punchi Theatre in Colombo. On 10 January the management of the theatre, under the direction of the veteran thespian couple Namel and Malini Weeramuni, held a special preview show to unveil the Colombo Cultural Show that will become a weekly staple on the Punchi Theatre’s calendar.

Sri Lanka prides in a glorious cultural heritage that has been abundantly enriched through centuries of development of the arts. However, there is not a single venue in Colombo that offers a public show of our traditional dances in a theatre as a staple, regular event. Visitors to the country too encounter cultural shows in hotels that are meant to cater as tourist attractions. With the influx of tourists and the need to showcase our rich heritage of dance traditions in a theatre setting, the management of the Punchi Theatre addresses this need which relates also to the interests of the tourism and travel industry of present.

Veteran broadcaster Arun Dias Bandaranaike was the master of ceremonies at this event and provided much insight about Punchi Theatre, its founders and the objectives of this new venture. The weekly cultural show will be a set of traditional dance performances that presents a show that runs between 45 minutes to one hour. Performed by students of the University of the Visual and Performing Arts, this weekly event will unfold at the Punchi Theatre every Thursday evening starting from the 26th of this month. The preview show of the 10th was also the occasion to launch the Punchi Theatre’s website which offers all details about the Colombo Cultural Show and furthermore offers language options in several foreign languages for the benefit of overseas visitors who may not be able to read English.

The website whose address is was launched ceremonially with the participation of several screen stars who together with the Vice Chancellor of the University of Visual and Performing Arts. Prof. Ariyarathne Kaluarachchi subsequently joined Namel and Malini Weeramuni in inaugurating the Colombo Cultural Show by cutting a string of white jasmine flowers on the stage that appeared as a floral ribbon.

The show was quite a treat and must be applauded for the talent that was evident in the performers. There is no doubt that travellers from overseas as well as children in Colombo now onwards can certainly encounter an authentic cultural show at the Punchi Theatre. The traditional ‘Ves’ dance, Thelme, and peacock dance were just three of the captivating performances among a host of others.

I couldn’t help but feel that the show might benefit in the future if some of the jibes made by the boisterous devil in the Salupaliya performance could utter some lines in English as well as some in languages of continental Europe since the show’s objectives include addressing overseas visitors who seek a memorable cultural experience in Colombo. The finale of the show, which was an impressive performance by an ensemble of traditional drums, created ‘aural awesomeness’ to my senses.

I believe, schoolchildren in and around Colombo would benefit much in the development of their aesthetic tastes for grand old culture as well as the tourism and travel industries in our country through this cultural show for which the management of the Punchi Theatre must be applauded. 

Pix: Vipula Amarasinghe