Thrashing trash from thriving | Sunday Observer

Thrashing trash from thriving

 Just as ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’, one person’s trash may be another’s treasure. What would your disposition be towards the corpse of a dog that guarded your home for 10 years? How would the piano playing of an octogenarian father with a touch of dementia seem to your nerves? Where exactly can garbage be deposited ‘traditionally’? What exactly would your choicest terms for derision be to the illicit lover of your spouse? How much do you ‘value’ (and appreciate) your ‘garbage man’? Those were some of the ‘food for thought’ Living on Garbage, the latest instalment of ‘The Garage Show’ produced by the amateur theatre company Idea Couch, and served its audience on a three day show run from June 16 to 18.

The venue was a private residence, No 12, Grenier Road, off Cotta Road, Borella, Colombo 8. The Garage Show by its form and technique I was told is performed not as a stage play of the proscenium but in an indoor location that is not a traditional theatre. And yours truly was able to catch Living on Garbage on its closing night, Sunday the 18th.

This was my first experience of The Garage Show which has had three previous productions, or instalments, based on different themes. Living on Garbage touched on an issue which has reached odious proportions to the public at large with garbage or rather the disposal methods and dispositions we have towards it, as a problem to be passed over to someone else.

Ventures

This problem has been one that caused the loss of lives and homes in the wake of the Meethotamulla incident that shocked the nation. But perhaps, what the thought of social criticism that comes out of artistic ventures such as Living On Garbage is to prod the viewers to ask themselves, if we, as a people have been sufficiently shocked to realise the urgent need for proper sustainable solutions to this problem and not eventually resign to the usual shoddy plaster quick fix that our ‘culture of government’ (not specific to a particular regime of any era) bears a propensity to dish out?

Do not get me wrong dear reader, but Living On Garbage was not expressly a theatrical critique meant to ‘deal with the Meethotamulla incident’ and satirize the buffoonery of our so called elected leaders with a witty script and skilled acting. It was not a show that means to mimic and mirror the ‘play acting’ of our so called elected leaders. In that sense this was not a show that tried to ride on cheap laughs directed at the antics of politicians.

The design of the work is that of a series of thematically resonant skits and monologues in Sinhala and English, that string together what can be definitely called a theatre show, which unfolds in different designated spots of the living room area and the indoor courtyard of the venue. The action therefore at times encircles the audience. The performance isn’t ‘a play’ per se in the strict sense of the term. In terms of its linguistic composite it can certainly be called a Sinhala-English bilingual text.

There were portrayals of domestic discord which brought out hilarity and empathy, political machinations bound to hypocrisy. There were also scenes in the form of dialogues and monologues that pervaded silence among the crowd calling for introspection and contemplation on matters that cannot be laughed away.

The show displayed a host of young thespian talent that must be wholeheartedly applauded. Among the more notable performances I would comment on were the portrayals by Vishan Gunawardena, Ruwendi Wakwella and Dmitri Gunatilake. Gunatilake in one of the skits that portrayed a female politico whom I cannot help but feel projected through her deportment, a facet of ‘Chandrikaness’ if I may coin such a phrase. However, in all fairness to the actress, and the show’s directress –Dinoo Wickramage, I do not believe that character was meant in any way to lampoon the politician. While I do understand how the nature of the venue and the limits in funds available to invest for these kinds of ventures, which are by no means massive money spinners, may have limitations with regard to seating arrangements (as in with chairs) for all viewers, I cannot help but remark how I feel, proper seating would have certainly optimized the ‘theatre experience’. But of course these are matters that rest on the producers when designing the setup for a show along with measures to recover the costs. All of which admittedly are easier to comment on than execute.

Support

Artistic ventures of this nature rely on the support of benefactors and patrons who see worth and purpose in them. Idea Couch was fortunate that way to find support for this production from Attorney–at–Law Chandana Liyanapatabandy PC, and his wife and family for providing their residence to be made into a theatre venue for three nights. The Liyanapatabandy family was also gracious to the extent of serving refreshments after the show to the viewers. Their support, towards this young amateur theatre group that has meaningful creativity to offer theatregoers, must be saluted. Directed by talented young thespian Dinoo Wickramage whose acting performances I have seen in stage plays such as Dracula produced by Anandadrama, and Dead Man’s Cell Phone produced by Theatre Junction.

This fourth Garage Show titled Living On Garbage featured the acting talents of Lakshitha Edirisinghe, Rehan Amaratunga, Dmitri Gunatilake, Ruwendi Wakwella, Vishan Gunawardena, Sachi Gamage, Vindhya Fernando, Shala Amarasuriya, Eraj Gunawardena, Haseeb Hassen, Nipuni Liyanapatabandy and Shalini Corea. It is with pleasure that I offer my hearty applause to the entire team that brought to life Living On Garbage while wishing long life to The Garage Show.  

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