Anasuya Subasinghe’s MY SWEET ROTTEN HERITANCE
Playwright & Director: Anasuya Subasinghe
Group: Salt Theatre Company, Sri Lanka
Duration: 2 hr 30 mins
Welcome to the extraordinary world of Kōlam! The past meets the present and strangely familiar stories unfold in a patchwork of bittersweet encounters. Lǣli Kōlama, the man bearing a plank of wood, crosses the ocean to arrive on foreign shores with the hope of becoming a deity. In the wake of neo-nationalist ethos, Diyasēna Kōlama presents himself as a self-appointed saviour, equipped with a master plan to outplay the evil forces threatening his race and religion. Weighed down by her children and their children, Attamma Kōlama endures the adored burdens and fears of the archetypal Sri Lankan grandmother. Vanda Kōlama, the praying mantis, whose palms meet in habitual genuflection, has found a method of survival in the many interpretations of the namaskāra. Gandhabba Kōlama wanders between death and rebirth, seeking justice for those who have been disappeared through the troublesome history of the Island. Lǣeli Kōlama returns to the arena, still hopeful of becoming a god. But urged by the Narrator, he has little choice but to take on the role of the Garā Demon responsible for ‘mopping up’ the arena and concluding the performance.
Kōlam, once a popular secular Sinhalese dance-theatre tradition of Sri Lanka, was performed in the outdoors, incorporation a large repertoire of masks, traditional low-country dance, yak-bera percussion, song, satire, Buddhist cosmology, and the influence of exorcism rituals. Both didactic and entertaining in nature, the Kōlam practitioner was inspired by his social and political landscape in bringing narratives to life in the arena. My Sweet Rotten Heritance is a political satire that attempts to reimagine this moribund Kōlam practice beyond its ‘fixed’ repertoire, by introducing new masks and narratives familiar to the contemporary spectator. Inter lacing political, historical and mythological accounts, and reinterpreting them in today’s context, the play explores the perform ability of Kōlamas a ‘living’, ‘evolving’ performance practice.
The Director & Playwright
Anasuya Subasinghe is a Sri Lankan academic in performance studies, a playwright, theatre practitioner, and film actor. She has received the award for Best Female Performance at the National Festival of Theatre in Sri Lanka and has won several national awards as Upcoming Female Actor for her role in the international award-winning Sri Lankan film, Ho Gānā Pokuna (The Singing Pond). Anasuya has worked in both the Sinhala and English language theatres of Sri Lanka over the past 20 years, and has interests ranging from masked theatre, physical theatre, solo performance, autobiographical performance and Sri Lankan traditional theatre and ritual performance. Anasuya completed her Doctoral degree in Performance Studies at Victoria University Melbourne Australia where she was awarded a Postgraduate Research Scholarship. She has since returned to her home country to continue her work as an academic and performance practitioner and is currently employed as a visiting lecturer at the University of the Visual and Performing Arts in Colombo.
Salt Theatre Company was established by playwright, director and actor Anasuya Subasinghe as an independent theatre ensemble that engages in practice as research. My Sweet Rotten Heritance, the debut theatrical Endeavour of the Company, was originally produced in 2017 as the performance component of Anasuya’s Doctoral Degree. Well received by a multicultural audience, Salt Theatre returned to Melbourne in July 2018 for two more successful performances of the play. Composed of an ensemble of young, dynamic performers, Salt Theatre aims to present theatrical works of high standard that are socially and politically incisive, creatively challenging, and most certainly entertaining.
CAST AND CREDITS
Narrator: Anasuya Subasinghe
Lǣli Kōlama: Jithendra Vidyapathy
Diyasēna Kōlama: Ishara Wickramasinghe
Attamma Kōlama: Stefan Thirimanne
Vanda Kōlama: Stefan Thirimanne
Gandhabba Kōlama : Dinupa Kodagoda
Musician: Nadika Weligodapola
Music: Nadika Weligodapola
Choreography: Jithendra Vidyapathy
Mask Design: Anasuya Subasinghe
Mask Illustrations: Trevor Stacpool, SujeewaWeerasinghe
Mask Design Development & Painting: Sirimal Sanjeewa Kumara, Sujeewa Weerasinghe
Mask Carving: Thuresh Manjula
Backdrop Art: Sirimal Sanjeewa Kumara
Costume Design: Dinushika Senevirathne
Puppet Mask Carving: Sumith Jayawarnana
Puppet Making: Tilaka Subasinghe
Set Design: Anasuya Subasinghe
Set Construction: Gamini Ranasinghe
Lights Design & Operation: Anuradha Mallawarachchi
Production Managers: Malith Hegoda, Sadhani Rajapakse
Playwright & Director: Anasuya Subasinghe