The latest drama production by Kaushalya Fernando, Dutu Thena Allanu (Wanted) is on board again on January 24 at Lionel Wendt Theatre. The play was premiered on December 12 and 13, 2015 at the same venue and was well received by the audiences. Dutu Thena Allanu is an adaptation of Opera Wonyosi by Nobel Prize-winning dramatist and poet Wole Soyinka. The play is a satirical representation of a decadent, socio-political scenario. The post civil war military regime in Nigeria and the economic upsurge created by oil extraction that resulted in social, political and cultural decadence was the backdrop under which Soyinka created Opera Wonyosi.
His script is an Africanization of Bertolt Brecht’s Three Penny Opera and John Gay’s 18th Century ballad opera, The Beggar’s Opera, which also influenced Brecht’s work. Adapted from both these texts in 1977, Soyinka staged a powerful satire that explored the corrupt socio-political conditions prevailing in contemporary Nigeria.
Wole Soyinka’s theatrical attempt was to awaken his fellow citizens who were in a stupor, letting themselves be abused and taken advantage of. The opera made them initially laugh at the abuse victims within it, leading to their realization of their own sad plight. Kaushalya Fernando presents, a reproduction based on Wole Soyinka’s Opera Wonyosi, recreated to suit the Sri Lankan socio-political scenario.
Macheath in Dutu Thena Allanu is a notorious professional bandit who has established himself as a significant entity. Anikura is a businessman who has started a beggars’ society and has succeeded in mastering the business of begging. He has a crafty knowledge of how to win the sympathy of people and is the proprietor of a business school for beggars. The higher ups in the Police and the Judiciary, as well as Emperor Boky (Bokassa), the eccentric leader allow these racketeering businesses to thrive as they cannot safeguard their corrupt existence if the criminals are not supported and taken care of.
Even the clergy have become corrupt comedians swaying under these abusive power structures. The citizens, who are compelled to look on, are victimized by the thieves, racketeers, and the state. The leaders, higher ups and the powerful reign with supreme power and good fortune. The powerless is without much luck even if they obey the powerful. This is the society that Dutu Thena Allanu creates on stage. This interesting satirical theatre production presented using energetic dance and music.
Dutu Thena Allanu is Kaushalya Fernando’s third theatrical production at national level. Earlier she had produced Sanda Langa Maranaya (Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding) and Maask (Henrik Ibsen’s The Public Enemy). Kaushalya Fernando who has been a teacher of drama for a long time, is, at present, the Creative Director of Somalatha Subasinghe Play House, the Drama School inaugurated by her mother, Somalatha Subasinghe.
Dutu Thena Allanu is presented by Somalatha Subasinghe Play House which is also known as the Lanka Children’s and Youth Theatre Foundation. Music Direction of Dutu Thena Allanu is by Chinthaka Jayakody. Lighting, design and Choreography is by Chandana Aluthge. Costumes and stage props is by Thisara Imbulana. The cast includes Dhanushka Dias, Shanaka Fernando, Thilakshini Ratnayake, Mayura Perera, Nilanka Dahanayake, Saviour Kanishka, Ruchi Abeywarna, Poojana Dandeniya, Dilum Buddhika, Kumudu Wickramathanthri, Chamara Gamaethige, Thilina Perera, Gyathri Ekanayake, Thiwanka Don Ranasinghe, Sameera Lakmal Wimalasiri, Duminda Sandaruwan and Hasarinda Kesara Liyanaarachchi. All actors are trained at Somalatha Subasinghe Play House.