Featuring three of Ananda’s most experienced actors in their final appearance for the school, together with a handful of complete newcomers to theatre, this production of Hamlet was one to remember.
Practices began uncharacteristically early, in July, as the directors experimented with various permutations of script before settling on the final version, characteristically late, just ten days before the semifinal at the Lionel Wendt on September 20th. Practices picked up in pace during those last ten days, as the cast came together to create a memorable excerpt that examined the “madness” of Hamlet.
The performance at the semifinal was one of Ananda’s slickest and most memorable at this competition, and the work put in to understand the complexities of Shakespearean characters and verse shone through. Lakshitha Edirisinghe, playing Polonius, won the Award for Best Supporting Actor, and Thilina Udayaratne, playing Hamlet, won widespread praise for his innovative interpretation of the character.
Ananda entered the Final for the fourth time in seven years, alongside Wesley College, D. S. Senanayake College and Maris Stella College. Fifteen other Boys’ schools had taken part in the grueling and highly competitive semifinal.
Considerable fine tuning took place between the conclusion of the semifinal and the final, which was held at the Bishop’s College Auditorium on 30th September. Hamlet’s arc in the excerpt was fine tuned and the characterisation of the other roles was also enhanced.
The performance at the final got off to the worst possible start, as Horatio (Gavin Ranasinghe, in his farewell appearance at the competition) was unable to enter on cue due to obstructions at the side entrance of the Auditorium. Hamlet and Marcellus (first time participant at the competition Malith Kulatillake) ad-libbed their way through more than half a minute of dialogue until Horatio finally entered, uplifting the play to a new level of intensity. Then the performance soared.
Roundly praised by the judges for the actors’ impeccable delivery of blank verse, good use of humour, and excellent all round acting, Ananda emerged deserving Champions of the Inter School Shakespeare Drama Competition for the second time.
Thejana de Silva
Nishantha de Silva