10 December 2018
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Trojan women makes impact on Jaffna audiences - R. Krishnakumar in Jaffna

tr-1English translation of a Tamil review

Nobody wins a war. But the war emerges victorious in shattering human civilization and culture. Yet the war has been persistent down the ages. Likewise the resistance to it too has been there from the very inception. Whether it is (fought) in ancient Greece or Sri Lanka the war has given nothing but destruction.

The play The Trojan Women written by Euripedes in 415 BC, brought out the tragic social issues created by war.

Based on the plot of this play Dharmasiri Bandaranayake has written a fine play in Sinhala to suit the present day Sri Lanka. After having staged this drama more than 50 times in the southern part of Sri Lanka, he also staged this play recently at Vembadi Girl's School in Jaffna to enable the people of Jaffna to see it. The play, which portrays the atrocities of war in many dimensions, goes beyond race, religion and creed and touches the feelings common to all human beings.

In the Trojan war which had been prolonged for more than ten years, all the males of troy were killed and the women left behind were taken as slaves. The play begins while they were dragged with shackles to the stage.
Time may change and the countries may differ but the people who wage war are the same everywhere, which Dharmasiri Bandaranayake brings out in his play very well by making use of the techniques of Brecht to suit contemporary Sri Lanka.

In the scene when the dead body of the prince was handed over to Hecuba for the performance of the last rituals (after the body being forcibly taken from his mother and grandmother), Dharmasiri Bandaranayake shows his creative talents by making the "The Trojan women" hand over the blood stained clothes one by one to the weeping Hecuba, who takes them and spread over the dead body.

Nothing would happen by making the audience to become overwhelmed by emotions or rather worked up by emotions. On the contrary, if a creative work makes a person to think soberly, it achieves a lot which Dharmasiri Bandaranayake does through his play.

Basically the drama is a tragedy which I thought as going to be filled with sounds of melancholy. But after seeing it my view has changed. Just like a waterfall that flows towards the river the play goes on naturally focusing on the inner heart.As the drama is written in Sinhala I entered the theatre thinking how I was going to understand it. But after seeing it I realised the language did not stand as a barrier.

What can express the destruction of war more effectively than the body movements? So even looking at it from this angle Dharmasiri Bandaranayake has succeeded in producing a good play.

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This play being a work of art, it is important to see what makes it a great play. The blending of sound, light and music in a creative way backed up by a fine set of characters with bodily and facial expressions have made it a great play. Although all the characters in the play have done their part well. Anoja Weerasinghe who played the role of Hecuba was extraordinary. Even at the last moment, after losing everything and when Hecuba was about to be taken as a slave by her enemies with shackles on her shoulders, she carries it with the indomitable look of a queen.

There was a discussion after we had seen the drama. Everyone who took part in it exchanged their views freely with thawed hearts.

Dharmasiri Bandaranayake asked everyone to come out with their opinions openly. He also said that on the way to Jaffna he saw the city of Troy at Chavakachcheri.

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