Revived in 2016 with the intent to celebrate innovative, original and entertaining theatre, the Annual Inter House Drama Competition of Royal College was staged for a second year running by the English Drama Society of Royal College with the support of the Old Royalists’ Association of Dramatists on 7th June at the Navarangahala. This event, which provides a platform for talented young thespians, directors and scriptwriters to explore their passion for theatre and the arts, saw Boake and Harward houses jointly emerge as champions from among four original plays, created and directed by present students themselves.
Firstly, Reed House performed ‘PTSD’, which followed a disabled soldier returning from war as he faces the trials and tribulations of assimilating to civilian life. We followed his journey at a new job at a local accounting firm where he has a series of dialogues with a a variety of characters on the nature of war and soldiers prompting us to explore the many misconceptions regarding veterans and their experiences, highlighting a dark but overlooked social issue.
This harrowing tale was immediately contrasted with the light-hearted, but similarly thought-provoking, Hartley House production of ‘Influence of the Millennials’. The audience was welcomed to the ‘Uncommons’ coffeehouse where the new generation of Millennials were seen in their many different guises. Social Media Geeks, Lover Boys and Gym Buffs were aplenty, and in their natural habitat we witnessed their unique flaws and hypocrisies in a hilarious new light. But of course, there is always more to them than meets the eye. ‘Lazy’, ‘superficial’, ‘shallow’, ‘irresponsible’ were just a few of the adjectives used to describe this unique bunch, but here they were seen in a whole new light.
Next, Marsh House performed ‘Psych!’, a farce which had previously emerged 1st Runner’s Up at the Inter-School House Cup Competition organized by Cold Theatre 7. Here, we follow Dr. Perkins, whose preparations for one of the most important lectures of his career are hilariously upended upon receiving a strange letter and bouquet of flowers from a secret admirer. His desperate attempts to untangle a tangle of bad luck, mostly of his most making, result in a series of twists and turns ending in embarrassment and disaster for the good doctor and hilarity for the audience.
The final performance of the evening was a combined effort by Boake and Harward Houses, who performed ‘Under the Stars’. This was a tale of love, self-belief and tragedy unfolding at Crown’s School for Boys, a righteous place for any adolescent boy where manners and discipline are valued above all under the rigid hand of their headmaster.
Following the performances, the panel of judges for the evening, Mr. Nishantha de Silva, Ms. Ashini Fernando and Mr. Nanda Abeysekera commended the creativity of the young students and, particularly, applauded their courage to take on mature and controversial themes. ‘Under the Stars’ was adjudged the deserving winning production, while ‘Psych!’ was awarded the Runner’s Up award and the Best Original Script award. Chavika Samaraweera (Best Actor) and Saveen Bulumulla (Best Female Portrayal) along with Rivi Wijesekara and Thinula Tennakoon jointly (Best Supporting Actor) took home the individual awards.