The Colombo Theatre Festival

Aug 13 2019.

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Having brought onstage a collection of fantastic theatrical masterpieces, The Colombo International Theatre Festival came to a close on the 9th of August. 

Held at the Elphinstone Theatre Hall, this Festival showcased a combination of stage dramas from a number of countries thus providing the opportunity for Sri Lankan theatregoers to experience an amazing Theatrical diversity. 

6 Countries including Germany, India, Austria, and even the USA took part in this festival which was organised under the guidance of Mohommad Safeer. Safeer who is an accomplished director himself was ecstatic to have organised this event for the 8th consecutive year and said that although there were various ups and downs over the years it has definitely been a pleasure to provide this opportunity for all theatrelovers in the country. 

Having visited the festival for the second time on the 8th of August we were able to watch two award-winning dramas that were performed on that day. 

The first drama "The Flight of Fancy" which won the "Children's State Drama Festival" in 2013 follows the story of a girl named Ellen and her larger than life emotions which help her get on through life. Her parents who come under the false impression that she has the ability to fly, after watching her fall from a ladder onto her bed, tries to force her to fly again so that they can show her off to all their friends and family. However, they ultimately have to face the reality of things when they themselves fall off the same ladder. 

I believe the message they were trying to get across was the amount of pressure that parents put on their children when they want something from them and how frustrating it can be at times. This is something we can all relate to and I think as a whole that it portrayed this message quite successfully. 

There had clearly been a lot of effort put in from a directorial perspective as the movements and choreography were brilliantly executed. However, the acting and characterisation had room for some major improvements. Out of the girls that portrayed the emotions Vayuni Hannadige who portrayed happiness did a noteworthy performance. 

The next skit was the acclaimed performance of “Grease Yaka Returns” that won 9 awards and a commendation at the 2019 State Drama Festival. Directed by Rajitha Hettiarachchi and Nishantha de Silva, this play was truly a theatrical masterpiece. The play revolves around the detrimental consequences of certain fears that society faces, no matter how irrational they may seem. 

The first half an hour of the play was pretty much a build up of the myth of the ‘grease yaka’. This part of the show was absolutely hilarious and had the audience in stitches the whole time. Fast paced, natural acting and subtle word play were the key to their success and at no point did we feel the actors were overacting or deliberately playing for the laughs. 

The latter part of the show focused on the consequences of this myth manifesting within the society which ultimately leads to rebellion and bloodshed. It also portrayed how certain opportunistic individuals took advantage of these fears and manipulated the people to achieve their own ulterior motives. The well devised sinister plot line of the play was extremely relatable to Sri Lankan audiences as it was a perfect portrayal of many incidents that have happened and are still happening in the country. 
Overall, it was a great play and all the actors must be commended for a fantastic performance 

All in all, the Colombo International Theatre Festival was a wonderful theatre experience for all Sri Lankan theatre lovers where there was a lot to watch, learn and enjoy. A job well done to M. Safeer for organising this event and providing Sri Lankans the opportunity to experience diverse theatre techniques and styles of various countries and also showcase our own talent to an international audience as well. 



Priyankara Rathnayaka -

Personally I really liked the play “Grease Yaka Returns’. Although there were a few instances at the beginning where the play got a bit stagnant. Overall I thought it was an amazing performance. A job well done by all the actors in the cast!

Amandha Amarasekara -

I loved the play “Grease Yaka Returns”. I completely loved how they took such a simple concept and abstracted it so much. It brought out the reality with regard to what happened in Sri Lanka a few months ago as well. I believe it portrays the truth about what happens in our society today in a very creative manner. 

Ranjith Dissanayaka -

I think this festival as a whole has been amazing and I particularly enjoyed the idea or the concept behind the play ‘Grease Yaka Returns”.

Suren Anketell -

I thought “Flight of fancy “ was a very nice play and all the actors did a splendid job of bringing out the story. 

Lucian Bulathsinhala -

I think this festival has been phenomenal and I must thank M. Safeer for his contribution towards Sri Lankan theatre. I Love how he has invited other countries to come and perform as well as it gives us Sri Lankans a new learning experience!

Viraj Ranasinghe -

I loved “Grease Yaka Returns”. The actors were very well disciplined and there was a good level of acting consistency throughout the play. Overall it was a great production. 

Sanduni De Fonseka -

I thought “Grease Yaka Returns” was a great play! I loved the comedy at the start and the transition into the more dark and sinister part was fantastic. It was a great performance!. 

Mahesh Alkegama -

I liked the play “Flight of fancy”. It was a pleasant play that we could sit back and enjoy. Overall a good performance by all the actresses. 

Pics: Kushan Pathiraja 


Sheshan Dias

Bibilophilic youth fuelling his passion in writing, nature Enthusiast, travel junkies, thespian, guitarist, spirited Foodie, tends to laugh at the most serious of moments.


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