Theatre has been Sarachchandra’s lifelong passion. As a young professor at the University of Ceylon, Sarachchandra produced sinhalese adaptations of Anton Chekov, Oscar Wilde and Moliere. But Western plays he decided, “never got to the root of our people.” He searched the villages for dramatic forms in his quest to identify an indigenous theatre. Together with his students and scholars he investigated folk rituals and dramas in villages of the south, as well as in the Kandyan hills and some parts of the Tamil north.
The epoch making play Maname was a result of his dedicated effort. Maname’s sensational reception established Sarachchandra’s stylised play as a popular genre. A stunning revival of sinhala theatre followed.
Maname is incontestably the greatest landmark in the history of modern sinhalese theatre. Highly acclaimed by critics and enthusiastically received by audiences throughout Sri Lanka and the world, Maname first staged on November 3 rd 1956 at the Lionel Wendt Theatre, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Maname gave modern Sri Lankan theatre resurgence and provided a cue for the discovery of the roots of Asian theatre. It was an outstanding combination of theatrical craft, poetic sophistication and dramatic concentration in which the essential elements in the folk theatre tradition were adapted to the modern stage.
Maname is based on the well-known Buddhist story belonging to the Jataka stories (Birth stories of Buddha) known as the Chulla Dhanuddara Jatakaya.
Maname has not only stood the test of time but also profoundly influenced the course of Sinhalese theatre. It could indeed be said that without Maname Sinhalese theatre would not have progressed the way it has. Maname occupies a unique place in the annals of Sinhalese drama. No other play has generated so much critical discussion, inspired so many playwrights or produced so many imitators. It is invoked as no other play is, as the touchstone of dramatic excellence. Its popularity remains undiminished to this day
Last night I could watch the Maname in my 3rd time. It was staged at “Ediriweera Sarachchandra Open air theatre” at university of Peradeniya. There was more than 2500 audience, althoug it has 52 years passed since it staged first time.
“Although I’ve walked all over the world with Maname, I couldn’t recieve such audience responce as here”, Lalitha Sarachchandra apreciated at the end of the drama.
A Scene from Maname