Teacher in charge, Amanda Van Eyck. Pictures by Shan Rambukwella
Teacher in charge, Amanda Van Eyck. Pictures by Shan Rambukwella

The Dynamism of the Methodist girls can be directly linked to their wonderful insight into drama. Dramatic Moves features the girls of Methodist College, whose positive attitudes have taken them a long way as thespians.

Teacher in charge, Amanda Van Eyck, is the proud teacher in charge of these girls who has seen them mature into talented ladies.

“Specifically we don’t have a drama society, it is called the English Literary and Dramatic Association. We like to focus on Original Theatre and also look at current issues. It may be a comedy or tragedy but we prefer to engage in current issues. Sometimes we do take part in Shakespeare but it is not a focus again because as I said before we prefer Original Theater.

But we do like to take part in the Royal College Interact Drama Competition so since you can do whatever you like it suits our style,” said Van Eyck

Every year the school has the Inter-House Drama Competition which is in all three languages.

“We get the girls to write original scripts. By doing this is forces them to be more creative and think more deeply about issues. So that creates a base of ideas and talent. Then when we take part in a competition and do a production it helps. Our principals have been very supportive,” stated Van Eyck

Working with the girls can be challenging at times, because it is a very informal setting she confesses.

But it is also very interesting and everyone gets quite close at the end of the process. It is also rewarding to see them taking on responsibilities and when they manage things on their own.

I feel that having the support of parents is very important because practices can be very time consuming and parents are sometimes not willing for children to cut their classes. Sometimes finding a director who fits our style is challenging,” she added.

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The easy roles

President, Dulmani Atapattu credits their success to the school that acts as the wind beneath their wings.

“From primary onwards we have gotten the opportunity to expand our horizons and be involved in theatre. And at Methodist College we have a lot of talent. We have so many upcoming actresses and people who have been doing drama for a really long time at school. I am really glad and I appreciate the fact that our school has given us this opportunity to be involved and showcase our talents. This year we took part in the Drama Comp. and we were the winners. So that has been an amazing opportunity. We have really taken it in and enjoyed the experience,” said Atapattu

As the President you need to be able to hold everyone together and make sure everything runs smoothly and manage everything.

“I think Unity and Cooperation is one of the main strengths we have. If we have to get something done and even though the time period is short and there is a deadline we meet it somehow. We all coordinate really well together and we listen to each others ideas. So that is one of our main strengths. That has basically helped us proceed and progress over the years,” stated Atapattu

When it comes to the work ethic the girls are very punctual and practice thoroughly.

“So if we practice for two hours we will give it 100 percent and do a strenuous session and cover the entire area we want to do. We have our goals pertaining to what scene we want to cover and we somehow meet that goal and that is the beauty of it,” added Atapattu

Relying on each other helps them enact roles.

“For this years’ production the role I played was personally close to me. Her qualities and characteristics was associated with my own character. How she deals with things, her attitudes and how she holds herself.

This was one of the easy roles I have done and I could relate to it. So I thoroughly researched. So we, the cast, actually get together, talk to one another, share our opinions and get a rough idea of what the play is about. Inwardly we build it in ourselves. That really helps us get into character and understand it,” explains Atapattu

She feels the younger ones can take on the challenge after the seniors have left.

“They also have the opportunity to take part in inter-house drama competitions, so through that they gain more exposure. We have workshops now and then to prepare the younger ones. They are really enthusiastic about it and they are ready to do it. There are a lot of stepping stones that Methodist College provides,” pointed out Atapattu

“Drama has helped me in my character building, personality wise. The lessons you learnt and the mistakes you made have really helped in life. All experiences gathered together really helps you as a person. You learn so many things and drama is like my passion. I would never trade anything in the world for what I have received from drama.”

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An opportunity for everyone

Secretary, Sanjeeda Shibly felt they have a diverse armory of talent.

“Our girls have a wide range of strengths. But what I like about our society is that it is not specific to one talent. So you can act and manage things backstage, so there is an opportunity for everyone with their own unique aptitude. So we have a wide range of all those aptitudes. Everyone puts in the same amount of effort and everyone is equal. And from that you learn a lot. Drama is a bit more special than any other extracurricular activity.

As a person you need to connect with everybody. You are opening your subconscious to a whole other level,” said Shibly

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Discovering yourself

Former committee member, Miriam Alphonsus said that doing drama is a self-discovery process.

“In my memory the most memorable production to me would be the one we did in 2015 called ‘Fruitcake’. The part that was most outstanding/memorable about it was that it really involved the student actors. Even in acting and in how you develop your character, the play involved a lot of the students’ participation. You really felt you were involved in the play itself. It becomes a part of you and you have to give a part of yourself to the play to make it work,” said Alphonsus

The passion that these girls have for drama is very obvious

“We have been giving drama a really big priority, and we were very passionate about it so we did whatever we could to bring it forwards and make it a huge part of our school career. If Drama is your ‘thing’ it can contribute a lot to your personality. It makes you more honest. When you are doing drama you have to take on another role.

After you have taken on four or five roles you discover in each of those roles that there is a part of that role that connects with you. It is a self -discovery process. If you take on challenging roles it pushes you to understand and think deeply about emotions and personalities you wouldn’t normally consider, and then you realize you also have similar feelings. It really helps in the process of discovering yourself and allows you to be honest with yourself,” explained Alphonsus.

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A lot of work

Treasurer, Pomodya Weerasinghe feels the competition at inter-house is at a high standard.

“The intensity of the Inter-House competition at Methodist varies every year and everyone wants to win the overall championship, so there is a lot of competition. But when it comes to the finals it is pretty intense. The issues we tackle are intense real life issues.

Stepping into the skin of another character takes a lot of work. When I see my fellow cast members in action it is like switch is turned on and I can picture myself. It is easy because the cast works together and no one really plays the fool. When we have to get something done we all do it together,” said Weerasinghe.

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A milestone

Former committee member, Ruqaiyah Kamil certainly plays it by ear.

“In 2014 we won Drama Comp. and the play we did, involved a lot of risks, because we addressed issues that were very sensitive and stuff.

And that developed into ‘Fruitcake’. I feel that over the years drama at Methodist College has been consistent. 2014 was a milestone even though we have been pretty consistent over the years before then. Since then we have been taking drama more seriously.

I have this trigger to switch on and switch off when I am in character. I listen to a song that makes me feel the way the character feels. And I get into character. The younger generation at Methodist has so much potential to do amazing things,” said Kamil.

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An ensemble performance

Former committee member, Dinuki Panditharatne, too like the others has benefited immensely from drama.

“When we won in 2014 we got a lot of attention. Our principal thought it was a really good play and the cast even acted it out in Assembly. Even though I did not take part in Fruitcake I really enjoyed watching the play develop. Drama helps you to be more understanding. I think it teaches you to be more open, while doing drama you explore so many characters,” said Panditharatne

The girls agreed that in Fruitcake, they dealt with issues that were really personal, and they had each other to fall back on. They girls agreed that when it comes to drama at Methodist, it is definitely an ensemble performance, and even if it is just one minor role the actress would put in so much effort like the main characters. Character wise it is extremely balanced so no one particularly stands out. Again maybe part of it is because of their style dealing with social issues, that forces everyone to be part of the process. That is why it automatically becomes an ensemble types.