The triumphant conclusion of Grease Yaka after two very successful public shows on 8th and 9th August 2014 left AnandaDrama’s members elated but exhausted. After taking a week off to recuperate, practices for the Inter School Shakespeare Drama Competition began in mid-August.
The directors had initially chosen to perform an extract from Richard III this year. But as the competition drew nearer, it became clear that no matter how that script was edited, the action would mainly centre only on a few characters, leaving many of Ananda’s actors in very minor roles.
And so, wanting to give all the actors a chance to shine, the directors and cast opted to change the play. After a few more days of deliberation, they went back to the play that had started it all for AnandaDrama: Timon of Athens. Only three weeks remained until the semifinal.
One of Shakespeare’s least known, least performed and least loved plays, Timon of Athens is a bitter social satire that tells the story of a fantastically rich Athenian nobleman who lavishes all his wealth on his friends, but descends into misanthropy after they refuse to help him when he becomes bankrupt.
Unlike in 2006, when the excerpt chosen focused on the aftermath of Timon’s fall, the directors were keen to give Timon’s character a more rounded journey. Casting was completed before the script was finalised, and practices took place virtually every day at various venues around Colombo—space at the school being unavailable.
The semifinals performance early in the morning on 11th September was somewhat under baked and unpolished due to lack of time, but the strong ensemble cast did well enough to enter the finals, beating out fourteen other schools.
The final week of practices saw tremendous improvement all round, as each of the actors worked hard to polish their performances and the magic really started to flow.
Kicking off the boys’ final on Saturday 20th September 2014, Ananda’s cast performed brilliantly and won great praise from the audience and the judges alike. Though strong performances from St. Benedict’s College, Maris Stella College and D. S. Senanayake College followed, Ananda emerged deserving Champions of the annual Inter School Shakespeare Competition.
Nishantha de Silva