Stage of creativity! | Daily News

Stage of creativity!

The Drama Club
The Drama Club

shini Fernando. Pictures by Siripala Halwala 

When it comes to Drama, Bishop’s College have been impressive and maintained an excellent standard. Indeed Drama is inbred in these girls. Dramatic Moves features the Bishopian Drama Society that has made its presence felt very strongly in the drama circuit in the country.

“During our time in school, many years back it was part of the English Literary Association and then subsequently it broke away and we formulated the Drama Society. Drama has been such an integral part at Bishop’s. Our pioneer directress was Irene Wanigaratne. Our first Shakespeare victory was in 1980. From then onwards we have had productions. We had a joint production in 1993 with S. Thomas’ College called ‘South Pacific’ which was a musical. Last year the past pupils from both schools staged ‘Divorce me darling’,” said Teacher in Charge, Ashini Fernando.

The Drama Club has a curious distinction that every time a student has played ‘Juliet’ at the Shakespeare Interschool drama competition, they have won Best Actress –Shanuki De Alwis, Oshadhi Welegama and Keshya Ranatunga

“For last years’ inter-house we did a series of workshops with the children. Tracy (other teacher in charge) and I found four very modern scripts and we gave it to the four houses and they had to direct it and work it out for themselves. So now we are trying to open ourselves out to more contemporary stuff,” stated Fernando.

At Bishop’s in the primary every year there is a concert. So one class will do the English Play.

“Invariably at some grade, the girls will be on stage for either a Sinhala play or English play. There is also an English Day, where they do skits. There are so many avenues for them to be creative and have a hand in drama. It really helps that we start at a young age, but some join in later, but at a very young age, we see these kids enthusiastically getting involved.

The main thing is to give them that creative outlet, to come out and show their talent. As a result it is inbred in them. So whether it is Shakespeare or inter-house, or anything small, they get involved. They have been used to it and it comes quite naturally,” pointed out Fernando.

Fernando mentioned that there are students who come just for backstage, because they know they are going to have a ball!

“Over the years, we have tried to have different directors, so that the girls will be used to a different kind of approach. Two years ago, for Shakespeare we were directed by Javin Thomas. A couple of years ago it was Shashen Perera. But we have also have had our very own coming in as well. The girls get used to different ideas and different types of theatre. Because obviously times are changing. Now they have had the traditional style and have been exposed to people who are more modern,” said Fernando.

Fernando also touched on the need to keep growing.

Understanding the industry

“The girls would love to win trophies obviously and that has happened over the years. But at the end of the day we need to show that we are growing and that we keep at the competitions. For example certain schools tend to fall off. They will do their own things at school, but they are not active in competitions. At Bishop’s we take part in the public school arena as well as internally. We keep adapting as new things happen. At last years’ series of workshops, we tried to concentrate on newer things, like movement and voice, without the traditional characterization. We even got them to go through a makeup workshop, because that is an integral part. And we addressed stage management separately.

That is something which has really helped Bishop’s College – moving forward and adapting to all the new things. The English theatre in Sri Lanka has picked up a lot. We have so many different kinds of theatre happening today. So it is important the schools open up to it. The girls do work hard I have to say. They know they have the backing and they have a history and they want to keep that standard,” explained Fernando.

Fernando mentioned that even now when there is a production, there is such a following of past pupils. “They still do keep in touch. Aaliyah Jabbar left school last year for the states. But she will still keep in touch with the girls. It is like a family. That is what theatre does to you. It brings people together. That has always been there throughout the years.”

Fernando pointed out that commitment is tough because these children’s lives are so competitive with studies and other sports commitments. “Bishop’s college is a 2000 plus school, so most of them do everything. So the balancing act is not the easiest. Today productions cost a lot. When you have directors time is precious.”

Fernando stressed that when it comes to drama, it is about exposing the girls into what theatre is about. They should get that understanding of what the industry really is. Then the artistic side of it comes slowly. You can’t forget that the girls are still at school level.

“They are exposed to a lot nowadays and they are very smart.”


A tendency to lean

Tracy Jayasinghe, other teacher in charge

“Bishop’s college has had a good foundation. But with times changing, they need more exposure. At Bishop’s for some reason, we have a tendency to lean more on comedy. But this is not to say we choose it all the time. We have done a lot of musicals within the school. School productions have a tendency to be musical, because of the numbers it allows. So it is a bigger production. We have quite a lot of talent with singing, dancing and acting,” said Jayasinghe.

Jayasinghe pointed out the importance of parental support.

“If the children do not have the parental support, I don’t think they would be here right now. When they are cast in a production, there is a certain level of commitment expected from them all and they understand that. So this is something we discuss with them when they are cast. They put in the effort because they are keen and interested,” explained Jayasinghe.


Commitment and dedication

Anagi Fernando, President

“The girls have always been involved in Drama in some way or another. We have been very lucky to do a lot of productions. As juniors we have had a lot of exposure – what it was to be part of the cast and crew. The technical part of drama and the fun side of it. We did a production called – ‘Shake Ripple and Roll’ about three years back.

Every year students’ leave and new students keep coming up and every year our participation has been consistent and we always deliver a quality performance. We always don’t have the same students acting and there are new faces.

Last year Anjuli Mahinkanda performed for the first time and she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. She was in Grade 9,” said Fernando

Anagi pointed out that Drama is important in the life of a student because it is an outlet to display students’ creative side.

“Also in a way Drama disciplines you. It teaches students commitment and dedication. It is not something you can put up in a day. A lot of hard work goes into it. We learn to work together and show that commitment to put something on stage. There so much from each person who gives into it. Everybody brings something to the table. Because at the end of the day we are doing it to showcase what our school has to offer.


A ‘de-stress factor’

Shawnae Algama, Immediate Past President

“When it comes to Bishop’s, there is so much enthusiasm when it comes to Drama. That is the one thing that pushes us through. It is very exciting and we look forward to doing Shakespeare and other productions. If you just take a script in general, even though we act another part, we are taught to bring ourselves through that character. In a way it opens our eyes to a lot of things,” said Algama.

Algama pointed out that you learn a lot in terms of theatre in terms of all the exposure you get. “It is not only about acting, you learn how the backstage works, how the make- up works and how props work. Overall it is a lot of knowledge. It is definitely a ‘de-stress factor’ in all of this. Most people say you need an outgoing personality for drama but there is actually a variety of people when it comes to drama.


Shanaya Klyn, Secretary

“When it comes to Bishop’s College most of us have done drama since our younger days. It is more of a family that a club. The more productions you have done together the closer you get.





Nivanka Nanayakkara

“I definitely enjoy doing drama because it is really fun. It is like a family and much commitment is required.





Mehak Sangani, immediate past secretary

“Drama is definitely, one of the most fun things I have ever done. I have been part of it for about four years now. I just love it. Everyone wants to be part of the drama club in some way because it is definitely so much fun. It gives you a sense of fun which is different from other extra-curricular activities. It gives fun a different meaning.




Shinnali De Mel

“Doing Drama has got me out of stage fright. I am now more comfortable taking part in productions. It has developed my personality and got me new friends who I will cherish for life."





Eleesha Munasinghe

“Drama builds up your personality and character so well. It brings out the best in you. It introduces you to a whole new world. You make so many friends and you understand more things. It helps you grow so much as a person.





Lahari Jayetileke, Assistant Secretary

“I was someone who was very insecure in my own skin. Drama helps me to get into someone else’s skin, because I am taking on the skin of a character. It helps me to let go of myself, not to be myself but to be someone else. To me that has been the most amazing part. I was never one to do public speaking that involved me being myself.




Akanksha Hulangamuwa, Vice President

“Especially at Bishop’s College we make sure that everybody who can take part in drama, actually does take part. Our school finds a way to make sure that everybody actually tries to take part. When you get the confidence to actually go on stage and learn to be yourself and a different person, it will open up your personality.




 Shamimah Faizel

“I was introduced to Drama through my sister. I have been acting since 2012. My first every acting experience was Shakespeare. I was in Grade 8 and it was Romeo and Juliet. Me and my sister did it together. We were the youngest in the cast. It was amazing how we bonded with everybody. With drama, different age groups bond so well. You grow as a person, learning something different each year.



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