Saturday, December 30, 2006




Affiliates of the THIRD EYE Local Knowledge and Skill Activists Group in collaboration with the VIVEKANANDA LADIES MAHA VIDYALAYAM, MADDAKKALLAPPU/BATTICALOA had conducted a THEATER WORKSHOP with the STUDENTS OF THE PRIMARY SECTION for two months and finally organized a FASTIVAL OF CHILDREN’S THEATRE on 2nd of December 2006.

Children’s Theatre Workshops and Children’s Theatre Festivals are alternative forms of education systems with the element of entertainment where children can discover themselves and express creatively and practically in performance with the facilitation of affiliates of the art of theatre.

Children with creative ability are our great source of prosperous
And for sustainable future!!!


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

He was an outspoken poet on the Tamil National Question

Source: Northeastern Monthly

An outspoken poet on Sri Lanka’s National Question,
S. Vilvaratnam, popularly known as ‘Vilvam’ or ‘Vilvar’ is
no more with us.

He died in Colombo of natural causes.

As a modern poet interested in contemporary social and political questions, Vilvam did not limit himself to pen and paper, but moved beyond the written word and fight for the causes he was committed to.

Vilvam as a disciple and co-activist of literary theorist and creative writer M. Thalayasingam, engaged in denouncing caste discrimination, the ever-bleeding tragedy of the Tamil community.

The genuineness of Vilvam’s voice on the issue surrounding the Tamil National Question is reflected in his poems, which will reverberate down the passage of years as written evidence of the yearning of a people engaged in a struggle for a righteous life.

Vilvam’s sense and sensibility in his celebrated work on the oppression of women in the Tamil community has a lesson in it to learn.

The inclusiveness in Vilvam’s perceptions as a committed Tamil nationalist contains a message about his life.


Sunday, December 24, 2006


Painting of Vasan of Batticaloa, Sri Lanka.

S.Nirmalavasan is a young promising painter and an activist.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Arts - Speaking out against oppression from permitted spaces in modern Tamil theatre

By: S. Jeyasankar

Source: Northeastern Monthly

“….by the 1980s, the civil war in the North and East and the tensions and disruptions it caused, had made Tamil theatre almost non-existent other than in small pockets in the North and East.” (Sri Lankan Theatre in a Time of Terror: Political Satire in a Permitted Space, by Ranjini Obeysekere, Preface, page 16)

‘Kulanthai’ M. Shunmuhalingam pioneered the transformation of Sri Lanka’s modern Tamil theatre from an artist-centred product to a participant-oriented activity. Moved by the experiences of Tamils in this country, the veteran playwright has created different genres of plays for the contemporary stage.

He innovated and established the tradition of educational theatre with the participation of generations of Tamil theatre practitioners who were mostly his students. The special feature of educational theatre is to produce plays with the participation of students and teachers in schools through the facilitation of theatre practitioners, who are mostly teachers themselves.

Educational theatre plays the role of an alternate system of education where children can discover themselves collectively and become creators, instead of remaining crammers reproducing texts, which is the core of conventional rote-learning and the examination-oriented education system.

Educational theatre celebrates the diverse talents of the group, instead of cultivating few ‘memory makers’ in the classrooms. The production becomes a festival celebrating the talents and gifts of all the students.

Shunmuhalingam popularly known as ‘Kulanthai’ or ‘Shunner’ among Tamils and as ‘Shun’ among the others, innovated a method in educational theatre practice where students identify and select issues related to their world directly and indirectly, and discusses the issues, thereby creating a storyline.

Based on this storyline created with the participation of students, Shun writes the initial draft of the play, which is put forward for further discussion. Through continuous interaction and improvisation, the script is developed for the production.

K. Sithamparanathan, theatre activist and co-practitioner of Shunner, has contributed to making educational theatre into an art form with his creative skills and imaginative power as a stage director.

He has not only made a significant contribution to educational theatre with Shunner, but also to the tradition of political theatre in this country, which was initiated and pioneered by Professor K. Kanapathipillai and strengthened and extended by Ampalaththadihal, a cultural group connected with the Peking wing of the Communist Party.

Both Shunner and Sithamparanathan have contributed to stylised theatre as playwright and director, which has come to be popularly known as the ‘modern theatre of the Tamils of Sri Lanka.’ It has been imitated by different people at different levels and faces the criticism of being monotonous.

Sithamparanathan extended the aspect of participation in play-making into the process of the performance. He got himself out from the proscenium stage and auditorium to work with communities and later established and popularised participatory political theatre.

The participatory aspect which began by being practiced in educational theatre and later made inroads into political theatre has contributed to the establishment of a community-based applied theatre tradition among the Tamils of Sri Lanka.

The origins of various forms of community theatre lie in the educational theatre tradition of the Tamils of this country. It has now led to applying theatre as a research process and tool by the writer of this article. Participatory theatre action research is another fruit of the tree of educational theatre.

The concept behind reformulating traditional theatre (‘kooththu’) as an organic form of community theatre originated from the practices of educational theatre. Reformulation of traditional theatre such as ‘kooththu,’ is conceived to act as agent of integration against the disintegration of peoples and communities, which is a consequence of the imposition of modernisation.

Reformulation of traditional theatre is not to make it a showpiece or icon of cultural identity as required by national culture, or into a commodity as demanded by market culture. It is a medium of collective expression and action in the process of resistance and transformation.

Shunmuhalingam has also pioneered the tradition of children’s theatre among the Tamils of Sri Lanka. He is the master craftsman of the art of children’s theatre, contributing to it through his scripts and by training artists in this genre of theatre for the last 30 years.

Another important contribution to Tamil children’s theatre is the creations of Profesor S. Mounaguru. He has created children’s plays based totally on traditional Sri Lankan Tamil theatres. They are meant to be played on proscenium stages with traditional dances and music, and colourful stage décor.

Third Eye Local Knowledge and Skill Activists Group of Batticaloa is initiating children’s theatre performances with the facilitation of the writer of this article within traditional theatre spaces and in traditional style. The purpose of this exercise is to build community-based theatre for children.

In traditional theatres there is a little space for children. And creating a space especially for children in traditional theatre is an act of engaging the community in the play’s production process. And it could be said that the benefits of engagement are similar to the benefits when participating in the production process of adult theatre.

Shunner has been instrumental in popularising modern theatre of the Tamils of Sri Lanka. His signal contribution has been incorporating traditional and popular elements in drama. His scripts are stamped with comic wit, for which he has come to be known, in order to interpret contemporary experiences of oppression and resistance against it.

His plays brought out different layers of oppression on different segments of the Tamil community dominated by ethnic subjugation. In his plays he exposes human madness by making his characters laugh at their own words and deeds. People experience the poetic beauty of day-to-day speech in his written lines.

Shunner has imbibed the essence of Chekhovian, Ibsenite, Brechtian, and absurdist theatre and digested it with the fare of local theatre and cultural idiom. The demands of contemporary existence led him to this unique creative process. He is the genuine maker of people’s theatre in the proscenium stage of the Tamils of Sri Lanka and represents the voices of the people.

He is also the powerhouse of play scripts for modern, Tamil theatre. Other than his original works he translates plays of the world through English for performance. He has translated plays from all over the world and has brought in different experiences from Asia to Africa to Sri Lankan Tamil theatre audiences.

Other than script writing and translations he has also trained generations of theatre practitioners for more than 30 years. Most modern Tamil theatre practitioners, in Sri Lanka and the Diaspora, are directly or indirectly indebted to Shunner. He also teaches drama and theatre arts for students from schools and universities. He has taught the subject free for years in his house, Thayaham at Thirunelvelly, Jaffna.

It could be said that though an individual, he has played the role of an institution in the field of modern Tamil theatre. Generations of people involved in theatre activities with social commitment from all over the world where Tamils live, are students of Shunner.

In 1978 Shunner set up the Drama and Theatre School in Jaffna in collaboration with dramatists like A. Tarcicious and began producing modern plays with practitioners specially trained in modern theatre. They sought to establish a new theatre culture that was entertaining as well as educational and spoke the sophisticated language of the contemporary stage.

Shunner has also produced a substantial amount of reading material on theatre history, particularly on the history of world theatres, architectures of world theatres and the theory of drama in Tamil for students and practitioners. These materials have been used as a resource base in theatre studies in Tamil for more than two decades though not in printed form.

Departing from the modern fetish for diligently obtaining copyright for literary and artistic work, Shunner believes in the right to copy. Using his work freely is an unwritten practice among theatre practitioners, students and, especially, teachers of theatre. If these writings are systematically compiled, published and translated into other languages, the genuine face of the modern Tamil theatre (and even Sri Lankan theatre) will emerge; it will add to the power of South Asian theatre too.

His continuous and committed involvement in the field of theatre is not only due to his professionalism as a playwrite. He is also an activist. Shun never labelled himself as an activist but leads a life against all oppressive values, while never pretending to be someone who is purged of them.

The lone and silent Kulanthai M. Shunmuhalingam has created history when war, cultural silence, blockade, inappropriate pumping of funds (mis)rule the environment. Reading Shunner is to acquire for oneself the history of Tamil socio-political life during the period of the last three decades; understanding him means confronting the power of a an individual in a world full of people

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Tribute to Our Great Contemporary Poet
S. Vilvaratnam
On his sudden Demise

The Worship Scar
By S. Vilvaratnam

After my friend
Introduced his father,
I asked about the scar.
“This is Tholuhai – scar”
The Periyavar said
Stroking his forehead,
His eyes lighting up
I bit my tongue
By my ignorance.
Calling for Allah
He had bowed low
Till his native soil
His bowed forehead
Whence sprang my impudence
That dared chase them away
From the soil of their birth
Like striking
Their worship - scarred forehead
With a hammer?
How thus could I
Injure myself?
Their worship-scar
My guilt-stricken conscience scar
Like the third eye
They grilled and drilled
My battle-field scars too.
When, oh when will my scar
When, oh when will my crime
Of violating the soil’s beauty
Etched on their foreheads
Be expiated?
When from exile
They return home
And full-throatedly
Calling for Allah
They renew their worship-scars
And stroke their foreheads
The tears dammed up
For years and years
Will burst the eye-dykes
Only at the moment
I immerse myself
In that cleansing cataract
Will my blemish
Recorded by history
Be washed clean.
That moment only
Will consummate
My liberation.
Allah have I entreated
To hasten
That sweet moment
Of reconcilement.

Translated By: A.J. Canagaratna

Source: Forehead Soil (1st ed. 2000)
(One of the poetry collections of S. Vilvaratnam)

Reproduced From
Third Eye (7th Issue January 2001)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

We Lost One of Our Great Contemporary Poet

We Lost
One of Our Great Contemporary Poet

Not to usual Unidentified Gunmen
But to unidentified illness!


By: S.Vilvaratnam

My son who was playing with sand
Came running up to me
And thrusting a fistful of sand
Into my palm
Ran off
Strewing the blossom of a smile.

The wet sand chilled
My still opened hand
A world blossomed
In the fistful of sand
And a white embryo sprouting wings
Began to toddle down it.

A ‘mini’ state in the compound
Where proudly I reigned my voice, my scepter,
My forefathers rejoicing at gatherings,
A full-blooded civilization, a way of life
Strode along the fistful of sand.

Today before our very eyes
Shared everything lies
Gouged is the land
We dangled in the void,
Our laboured breath hardnes,
Sticks in the throat.
Is such respiration life?
The sand in the fist
Trickles down
In the momentary weakness of memory.

‘Will everything slip out of our grasp?’
My troubled glance
Falls on my son
Playing with sand.
Once again my eyes glisten

Under a mango tree
That has put forth new shoots
Lovingly he kneads the sand,
Builds a temple, worships it.
Stoops, picks up handful of sand
And smears it, holy-ash-like, on his forehead.
Straightening up he sprinkles some verses
From the thevarams*
Much moved, transfixed I stood
Resolved to await
His hands’ action in Time.

*thevarams- devotional songs composed by saints of Hindu religion in praise of Hindu Gods.

(Translated by: A.J. Canagaratna)


The funeral ceremony will take place in Colombo on Monday the 11th of December 2006.

Third Eye Local Knowledge and Skill Activists Group.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Kulanthai M. Shunmuhalingam: The pioneer of Educational Theatre of the Thamils of Sri Lanka.

Educational Theatre Festival!

Celebration of the talents of ALL the students!!

Vivehananda Girls Maha Vidyalayam, Kallady, Batticaloa, Sri Lanka celebrates Educational Theatre Festivals on 2nd and 3rd of December 2006. Three children’s plays and four educational plays facilitated and created by Third Eye Local Knowledge and Skill Activists Group will be performed on the 2nd and 3rd of December 2006 at the school hall.

The two months theatre activities with more than 400 children of Vivehananda Girls Maha Vidyalayam, Kallady, Batticaloa yield the fruits of this Theatre Festival!

In addition, there will be a magazine with the works of Advanced Level students also released on the 3rd of December 2006. It’s also a production of the two months activity with the above students facilitated by Third Eye.