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After witnessing Stage Craft consecutively for the past few years, and you thought that you knew what was to be expected and had made your own judgment regarding the talent on display, you would have been amazed to experience the full blown impact of Stage Craft 2011 – Talent Under Construction. That is not to say that the past two years’ performances have been ordinary or forgettable. No, the past editions were extremely good in their own right and provided a great entertainment for those who attended the shows. But this year, on the 10th of February at the Bishop’s College auditorium, the bar was well and truly raised to a level that was not thought possible.
Eye catching posters advertised the event all around Colombo along with the very graphics-oriented advertisements telecast on Art TV. The buzz was created; the talk was done. All that was left was to walk the talk in bringing together a “mind-blowing fusion of dance, music and drama.” And did not the students of IIT deliver exactly that and much more!
From the moment the welcome dance got underway with one of IIT’s most talented students, Sharanya Jayasekaran, performing a stunning Bharathanatyam that stood on its own amidst the traditional Kandyan dancers. The audience was captivated… the show had begun. Sabry Moulana and Anushia Bastiampillai were the hosts for the first half of the show, followed by Tanuri Senanayake and Dino Corera in the second half. A new feature introduced to Stage Craft this year was the selection of winners from each category of performance. This fueled a competitive nature unseen in previous editions, making the show that much better.
All the dancers performed brilliantly. They took the audience on quite a journey, from the late 1930s to the modern hip hop themes, to western and eastern cultures and so on. Many dance items featured all-girl performances including the glitz and glamour of Dazzlers in shimmering green to the wonderful Indian Fusion which got the crowd in the mood for some fine tuned Bollywood fun. The guys also shone in their own right with ‘Pit Bull’ in Club 1939’s classy performance and the popular Swagga Crew who outdid themselves yet again with a fantastic bone twisting performance to a wonderfully mixed score.
Moving on, the singing items featured some terrific performances as well. A high standard was set by Anushiya Bastiampillai when she started off the items with an amazing vocal performance of Whitney Houston’s hit ‘The Greatest Love of All’ accompanied by piano. It was a sign of things to come during the rest of the evening. This was followed by a duet of the famous song “Ganga Addara” by Stefan Udumalagala and Devina, which also featured the upcoming band, the Twisters. The duets did not end there as later on Anushiya again took to the stage, this time together with Geethika Cooray, for the song ‘Let’s Call The Whole Off’ from the soundtrack of the 1939 “Shall We Dance”. Sahan Liyanage then entered the stage with another very good vocal rendition, this time of the Bollywood classic ‘Zindgi Ek Safar.’ The experience was made all the more enriching with a dance featuring two love birds on stage that complemented the song very well. The second half of the evening also consisted more vocal items. The powerful voice of Harin Samat which echoed through the whole auditorium seamlessly captured the attention of everyone as he and his band produced a wonderful compilation of English and Sinhala songs which included the notable Rascal Flatt song ‘God Bless the Broken Road.’ The zenith of singing items came when guest vocalist Sameera Dayaratne delivered a mesmerizing rendition of some cult western classics; a thoroughly entertaining performance.
And then of course there were the two dramas which made evident to the audience the richness in creativity and talent that these students possess. They alone could stand as a testament to how good the event was this year. The first drama entitled ‘Vixens and Wolfskins’ was written and directed by Dino Corera who also starred in the main role. The story was introduced as the untold story of ‘The Red Riding Hood.’ Utterly innovative and highly entertaining in its execution, it brought about huge cheers consistently from the crowd. The jaw dropping opening sequence alone which involved an attack on a girl by a wolf in the woods would make one wonder whether they are in fact in Broadway witnessing a professional play performed by Tony Award winners. It was so well done that by the time the second drama commenced, the audience could have been forgiven for assuming that you could not strike gold twice on the same night.
Well ladies and gentlemen, the final year students of IIT did just that in their play Patalawilla, and the crowd roared. It was comedy galore from beginning to end leaving the judges in a difficult position of having to choose a winner.
Amidst all this there was another small item which managed to stand on its own. It was an instrumental performed by a group called Reloaded, covering the Stigmata hit ‘Andura.’ It featured spellbinding guitar and drum play and once Kusal Alwis got into his groove with his six strings, viewers were inclined to head bang along with him even though they were seated!
Finally, to draw the curtains, the IIT choir of around 60 voices took centre stage. Dressed in white, they brought the roof down in a spectacular fashion. Dancing to the music, they delivered an unexpected combination of songs including ‘Joanna’ by Eddie Grant. It was a fitting conclusion to what had been a phenomenal show put together by the Student Union of IIT.
In closing, it is important to commend the Stage Craft Committee headed by Tharaka De Alwis on a job well done. To undertake a task of this magnitude and put together, in everyone’s opinion, the best Stage Craft yet amidst all their academic work, took some doing. Attention to detail was outstanding when considering how effectively everything was planned out. What you saw on display was raw talent which, with the right guidance, would allow the students to carry on to even higher levels with great success.
Anders Friden of the trend setting Swedish metallers In Flames sings in one of their songs, “As we build a brand new planet, let us reconstruct and get it straight.” These students are part of the next generation who will take up the mantle of leadership in Sri Lanka and the world. So there you go; the bar has been raised and a new standard set, leaving us with high expectations for next year‘s Stage Craft. Therefore, to put it in the words of the cricketing icon Richie Benaud, this year it has been a “simply marvelous show.”
Tharaka De Alwis
2nd year student, IIT