The plays of William Shakespeare are a portal to life, adventure and entertainment, universal in sense of both place and time - for a viewer. But for the actors, who witness it all behind the scenes and on stage, it can be either a happy dream or a nightmare.
The theatre tradition in Devi Balika Vidyalaya has been a long running one through the 61 years of its history. Victories and losses have been recorded all along the way. But no matter how many All-Island victories were accomplished, no matter how many 'Best Performances' were pulled off, the Devians had never yet accomplished the seemingly simple task from passing in to the finals from the semi-finals of The All Island Inter-school Shakespeare Drama Competition. Not quite as simple as it seems, for these competitions, organized by the Colombo Young Men’s Christian Association and the Rotary Club are the toughest of all contests in the field of Shakespeare.
The Merchant of Venice, The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello - all consecutive shots at the same goal that tragically seemed to miss, though never too far off the mark. Then came The Comedy of Errors, the play of 2014.
Its inception was shaky; its cast seemed to waver: some entering, some leaving. But then someone - perhaps it was our Madam Principal Col.(Mrs.)W.D.P.K.Samarasinghe, or our teacher–in-charge Mrs.Shammika B.Edirisinghe, or our director Mr.Vishan Gunawardana, or the cast itself - or all of them together - pressed the accelerator pedal. Thenceforth, there was no turning back.
It was certainly a happy dream that the cast of The Comedy of Errors experienced on the boards of the Lionel Wendt Theatre, on the 9th of September 2014. For all the hours of hard practice, riotously funny scenes, delightful team-building sessions and rehearsals that stretched as late as 10.00p.m paid off spectacularly in a breakthrough performance that let Devi Balika Vidyalaya straight into the final round for the very first time in our school history.
And, not being content with just being in the finals, the cast, the crew and the entire body of people involved threw themselves, heart and soul, into taking another step forward, which culminated in winning the award for the 1st runner-up.
The performance, held at the Bishop’s College Auditorium, on the 19th of September at 6.00 p.m, received much commendation from the judge board; on the flow and the pace of the play itself, which was smooth and enjoyable; on the subtlety and comedy that was, in effect, slapstick and made the audience burst into laughter. The performances of Hasni Gunarathne as Antipholus, Pamali Liyanage as Dromio of Syracuse, and Amadhi Dassanayake as Dromio of Ephesus received a special note of appreciation; in fact, the latter two (the Dromios) were nominated for the Best supporting Actress award together.
All in all, it was a fellowship, a cast, a play, and a win that left little to be desired.