Back to the Stage: Bringing together the talents of young and old

May 11 2024.

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‘Back to Stage’ a celebration of 150 years of Bishop’s College this year and 175 years of S. Thomas’ College (to be celebrated in 2026) will go on the boards at the Bishop’s College Auditorium on May 17th and 18th. One of its objectives therefore is to foster the rich heritage of both these institutions that share the same founder, Dr. James Chapman, the first Anglican Bishop of Sri Lanka.  

The programme will feature performances by the Revelations, Gananath Dasanayaka on Saxophone and vocals as well as a few Thomian musicians comprising singers Jerome Spelderwinde, Joel Fernando and Manith Fernando, bassist Dulip Gnanakan, trumpet player Prashan Bastiansz, percussionist Jehan Kumara and drummer Birendra Siriwardhana brought together for this event by Aruna Siriwardhana. They will be joined by Bishopians Shyama Perera on Keyboards and Gayathri Fernando on vocals for some items of the performance.  

The two Co-Chairs of the Joint Organising Committee are Sonali Dias and Rukshan Kuru-Utumpala. It is directed by Nafeesa K. Amiruddeen, Shadwell Weerasinghe assisted by Shyama Perera and vocal direction for amateurs by Sanjeev Jayaratnam.  Presented by the PPA of Bishop’s College and the OBA of S. Thomas’ College tickets can be obtained from the Bishop’s College auditorium office. We spoke to the directors and also a few of the performers to find out their thoughts on performing for the show.

Nafeesa  Amiruddeen 
As a director of this collaborative production between the PPA of  Bishop’s College and the S. Thomas’ OBA I am thrilled to welcome you to an evening of boundless creativity and talent on the 17th and 18th of May. Our concert Back to Stage is a celebration of the vibrant arts community that thrives within our schools, both among present students and Alumni. I encourage you to join us and let the music, the dance, the drama, and the laughter wash over you, and allow yourself to be transported to new worlds of imagination and wonder.

Shyama Perera - I am performing with Zahara Mohamed who is a Bishopian. We are teacher and student. My favourite and special student Zahara is a teacher herself like me. I am the Director of the International Institute of Music Speech and Drama and the representative in Sri Lanka London College for Music, Speech and Drama which is an external faculty of the University of West London.

Shadwell Weerasinghe - Both BC and STC have a rich legacy of drama and music, and with upcoming key celebrations of 150 and 175 years, it just made perfect sense to conceptualise Back to Stage, where we take a journey back in time with schoolmates spanning many eras. I'm grateful that experienced people like Nafeesa, Shyama and Sanjeev have lent their expertise to this show.

Sanjeev Jayaratnam -  I am delighted to be part of this production. I was involved in the audition process for the production and helping the amateur singers with their act. I am also assisting the Directors with the production aspects in whatever way possible. We have also brought back ‘The Revelations’ led by me for this show and am also singing a special song with my sons. 

Manith Fernando - Being able to perform at this show is an incredible opportunity, and I am grateful for the chance to showcase my skills as a singer with an audience consisting of my peers. I am also appreciative that I got to perform on stage with so many other gifted musicians, from whom I picked up a lot of knowledge.

Dr Gananath Dasanayaka - It is always an absolute pleasure to be part of an S.T.C. event collaborating with Bishop’s. We’ve had such events in the past and the connections we make are invaluable.

Anuradha Weerasekera/  Tesara De Silva - I was a very active participant in dramas and Kandyan dancing during my school days and loved being on stage in my student years at Bishop’s College. It is surreal and humbling, to say the least, to be performing on stage at my alma mater after so many years and what makes this occasion even more special is that I will be performing with my daughter Tesara who is a student in Grade 4 and who has followed in my footsteps at Bishop's College. I have a special place in my heart for my dear batch mates who have encouraged and supported me in carrying through with this event despite my reluctance.

Radini Fernando and Andrew Sebastian - We will be performing the Sinhala pop song named ‘Ananthayata yanawamai’ by Sir Senaka Batagoda. “Back to Stage” is a great opportunity that has been given to both of us as it represents both our schools. The show enlightens the past pupils as well as the youngsters and we are very grateful for it. We hope to do a mesmerising performance for all.

Niranjan Bibile - Master Sir (Panam Attin) is a classic that gives me the freedom to be free when performing. As an artiste I personally enjoy this song as I get the opportunity to get the crowd to join making it very entertaining. I am looking forward to getting everyone to sing along to this tune. So let’s go, everyone!!! Performing for fans is one of the best feelings, it’s even better when the audience is the friends that you grew up with. So “ Back to Stage” is a really nice concept to showcase your talent as well as reconnect with your schoolmates as well as meet your fellow Thomians/ Bishopians from different eras. Personally, I look forward to performing and meeting everyone.

Menik Neydorff - It was quite a challenge for me as I hung up my dance gear many years ago, though I have continued as a dance teacher and choreographer. I was a little hesitant at the onset when I was invited to dance, as I figured it would be a daunting task to be on stage again, especially with so many renowned past pupils from both schools in the entertainment field.  However, now I am extremely excited and looking forward to being a part of this magical extravaganza. I am sure it will be a night to remember.

By Kshalini Nonis


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