CentreStage Productions recently celebrated 15 years of ground-breaking theatre at an exclusive event recently. Founded by Jehan Aloysius, the amateur theatre troupe has consistently produced and promoted original theatre in Sri Lanka and overseas. The anniversary event, titled ‘CentreStage Celebration’, was graced by prominent players of the local English language theatre scene who have been showcased or developed by CentreStage Productions under the direction of Jehan Aloysius.
Invitees were also treated a selection of songs from the troupe’s work-in-progressFrankenstein, which is written and composed by Jehan Aloysius with musical orchestrations and performance by Eshantha Peiris. The songs were performed superbly by musical theatre stars Sean Amarasekara, Dmitri Gunatilake and Ruwanka Liyanage as well as brand new talent such as Dion Nanayakkara and Julian Anderson.
Jehan Aloysius presented a video montage of the impressive repertoire of theatre productions and workshops produced by the troupe over the last 15 years. Jehan stated, “CentreStage has performed 32 production runs of 10 major original works in over 10 cities around the world. As an ‘inclusive’ troupe, some of these projects have been with the disabled as well, with ground-breaking ballets, which also featured disabled soldiers, which were even featured in the BBC and CNN. Many plays and scripts have been shortlisted for the Gratiaen Prize for literature, The State Drama Festival and also represented Sri Lanka at many overseas drama festivals since 2001. Moreover the plays and scripts have also been studied and taught in Universities as well.”
Indeed, the focus of this non-profit troupe has always been to foster theatre skills in young people in all areas – from script writing to acting, direction and production. Since the initiation of their humanitarian ‘Stage Hands Project’ in 2005, they have also focused on using theatre for initiating social change that can develop, empower and mobilize communities to grapple with social and personal issues. They regularly conduct theatre workshops with schools, theatre troupes, and amateur dramatists both of the English and Sinhala theatre circles. It is important to note that these volunteer workshops and humanitarian endeavours are funded by the proceeds from their plays.
The event was organized Jehan’s new ‘Core Team’, which also includes Dion Nanayakkara, Tayhani Kannangara and Michael Jayawardana. Jehan also officially introduced Julian Anderson as the troupe’s new Production Manager. Julian shared his journey as follows, “I joined CentreStage earlier this year and went onto perform in Bengal Bungalow, which was my first speaking role!That experience transformed my passion into theatre under the guidance of Jehan Aloysius. His training gives me depth and understanding into acting which I will utilize not only in my career but in life as well. At CentreStage, we consider age and seniority just a number, and treat everyone equally. I’m excited about the future which includes the rebirths of past productions such as Stormy Weather, Caliban’s Rebellion and Rag- the Musicalo as well as fresh new projects as well!”
CentreStage Productions and Jehan Aloysius would specially like to thank Carol Aloysius (Jehan’s mother), Ranjit Page of Cargills PLC, Thushan Dias of Mahinda Dias Engineers, Kishan of Unique Sounds, Shehal Joseph for photography as well as the newspapers and media that have continued support home-grown theatre in Sri Lanka.