Gateway students delve deep into history to uncover the unsung female heroes of Sri Lanka

This year’s ‘Inter-house Drama Competition cum Drama Day of the senior students’ titled “Billie” at Gateway College Colombo, proved to be a most fulfilling, novel experience and a resounding success that awed both the organisers of the drama club as well as the large audience which the event attracted. “Billie”, an affectionate, colloquial alias for the world’s most famous bard - William Shakespeare, has been selected as the title for this grand event, which encompasses the annual inter-house drama competition, an open-mic event to showcase the students’ talents in performance arts and a mini-carnival, with the vision of encouraging the students of Gateway College Colombo to form a lasting interest in the fine arts.

The entire event revolved around the theme, “Four female figures who made a difference in the history of Sri Lanka”, with the student directors, producers and the script-writers of the four houses of the school, namely, ‘Dudley’ ‘Stephen’, ‘Solomon’ and ‘Lionel’, devising scripts based on the unsung contributions made by the queens, Kuveni, Viharamaha Devi, Soma Devi and Sugala Devi, respectively. The challenge presented to the students was to reveal in a new perspective, the selfless sacrifices made by these brave females in the name of the sovereignty of our nation and to draw their figures out of the shadows of their kings.

Billie 2020 was especially challenging to the student script-writers as the heavy burden of producing engaging plots while maintaining historical accuracy required them to conduct extensive and intense research. Their scope of research was expanded even to the extent of accessing the texts of ‘Mahawamsa’ and ‘Chulawamsa’, in order to maintain, as authentic and objective an appreciation of the numerous contributions made by the aforementioned queens, as possible, much to the admiration and astonishment of the audience. The experience of viewing these performances staged by the four houses at the challenging setting of an open-air space, impressed the esteemed judges of the event themselves, who all praised the efforts of the students at creating a valuable learning experience for both children and adults.

The drama club of Gateway College Colombo which was established in 2013, under the tutelage of renowned theatre practitioner, Kalakeerthi Mr. Jerome L. de Silva, has borne many admirable fruit within a very short span of time. Since its inception, the drama club of the school has successfully staged four productions at The Lionel Wendt Theatre, namely “Midnight Saga”, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “Robin and The Sherwood Hoodies” and “Romeo & Winifred”, which were all favourably received by large audiences.

Despite being a young school, Gateway College Colombo has always encouraged the members of its drama club to participate in one of our country’s most prestigious drama competitions which is the ‘Inter-school Shakespeare Drama Competition’ and has witnessed its students succeed at accomplishing many nominations as well as achieving some of the most coveted awards of the event over the course of the past six years, with Aquila Abdeen securing the award for “Best Actress for the Year 2016” for her portrayal of Cleopatra, followed by Dion Sethunge tying for the award of “Best Actress for the Year 2019”, also for her portrayal of Cleopatra.

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