Amphitheatre in collaboration with SriLankan Cares – the community development arm of SriLankan Airlines – presents HCN de Lanerolle’s Fifty-Fifty directed by Jaliya Wijewardene. The play is scheduled to hit the stage at the Bishop’s College Auditorium from September 9 to 11, 2016 from 7.30pm onwards.

Proceeds will be in aid of the SriLankan Village Heartbeat Project which will benefit under privileged communities in Oddusuddan and Mullaitivu. Box plan and tickets will be available at the Bishop’s College Auditorium from August 15 onwards.

Howard Camden Nanciers de Lanerolle (1899-1990) was educated at Richmond College, Galle and received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Springfield College, Massachusetts. He wrote and produced several critically acclaimed comedies including Well Mudliyar (with EMW Joseph), Fifty-Fifty, The Senator, The Return of Ralahamy and Ralahamy Rides Again with the lead roles being played by celebrated actors ECB Wijesinghe and PC Thambugala. It is reputed that his plays helped Ceylon ‘laugh itself to freedom’.

Fifty-Fifty tells the story of Dionysius Sumanasekara, a wealthy country gentleman who is coaxed by his boyhood friends Thambypillai and Hadjiar Abdul Hameed to contest the Gonahena seat in the State Council by-election.

The play follows Dionysius’ election campaign, which is spiced with the antics of his flirtatious wife Charlotte, his seemingly innocent daughter Nanda, black market racketeer Abraham Muttiah and Chelvam Devarajan, the campaign lawyer who is in love with Nanda.

The play was originally staged during an interesting phase in the political growth of the island. It marked the advent of the Soulbury Commissioners in the island to report on the progress made under the Donoughmore Reforms and to suggest reforms for the future. Lord Soulbury attended the first performance of Fifty-Fifty and there are some who believe that the staging of the play had much to do with the liberality of the reforms that followed.

The visit of the Soulbury Commissioners held promise of yet another advance on the road to self-governance. It offered a golden opportunity for all the communities to secure such concessions as would benefit the country as a whole. Unfortunately, certain persons saw it as a chance to further their own ends.

The play was an attempt to relieve through the medium of fun and frolic, the growing tensions that this created among the people who lived in amity for centuries and to hold up to ridicule the tenuous arguments on which the theory of ‘balanced representation’ was based.

It also offered a simple solution to the island’s communal problem – process of miscegenation has gone on for centuries and still continues. It is only ignorance and pride that prevents our recognizing the obvious fact that we are in reality one people.

The cast includes a number of veterans of the inter-school Shakespeare competitions and comprises Yasal Ruhunage as Dionysius Sumanasekara, Kavinda Gunasekara as Thambypillai, Shenilka Perera as Charlotte Sumanasekara, Leyanvi Mirando as Nanda Sumanasekara, Anaz Badurdeen as Chelvam Devarajan, Sahan Wijewardena as Hadjiar Abdul Hameed and Jaliya Wijewardene as Abraham Muttiah.

timely play