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Nov 11, 2016

‘The Island Nation’ – Sri Lanka’s war to London theatre Featured

This is East London’s Arcola theatre.

Close to this theatre in the West End, known to art lovers, is located Hackney, an area of comparatively poor people.

What is being shown here is not something relating to Britain or any other European country.

The theme of ‘The Island Nation’ is Sri Lanka.

Civil war in Sri Lanka

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The main characters are ex-president Chandrika Kumaratunga, LTTE theoretician Anton Balasingham, former Norwegian peace envoy Erik Solheim and ex-LTTE leader Kumaran Padmanathan.

The play builds on the friendship between a British aid worker who attempts to save the lives of a girl and other civilians during the final weeks of the war.

Theme of the play is Sri Lanka’s civil war

Some have forgotten the war – Mahinda

War is over, repression in the north is not over

Who takes credit for ending the war?

What is the aim of the drama being shown in Britain seven years after the war?

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Ayesha Dharker who plays the role of Chandrika Kumaratunga

That is not over? People suffer the results of what happened in 2009, said Christine Bacon, who wrote the play.

That is still being felt in London. Still many come to Britain seeking political asylum. It is very difficult for them to gain political asylum, says Bacon, who is also the art director of Ice&Fire, a theatre company that explores human rights stories.

There are many British nationals who believe Sri Lanka to be a beautiful country with a beautiful beach and a good place to have their honeymoon. Most do not pay attention to the fact that a tragedy of such proportions took place in Sri Lanka’s recent history.

5 2Eran Persaud who plays Anton Balasingham and Clive Hayward as Erik Solheim

On the day the play was shown to the media, the theatre was filled mostly by British people, and there were a very few Sri Lankans.

Considering in any aspect, war is a tragedy. Therefore, it is questionable as to whether it could have a humanitarian aspect. Also debatable is as to whether a creation based on a true event could be biased.

Former BBC correspondent in Colombo Charles Havilend responds, saying it brings within a very short period a very complex story in a very astute and discreet manner.

5 3Bally Gill plays the role of a top military officer

Haviland says it depicts the true story of the final months of the war based on the truth and eyewitness accounts, and it has not hesitated to condemn both parties to the war.

Human rigths group INFORM’s Ruky Fernando is one of the Sri Lankans to have seen the play.

Fernando questions as to why Sri Lankan artistes hesitate to create a play in Sinhala or Tamil language about the final days of the war.

5 4Nikki Patel as the Tamil girl caught in the war and Claire Dargo as the aid worker

He says if Sri Lankan artistes turn to creations of this nature, it will help reconciliation among the communities.

He says he is unaware if they are afraid to do so or if there are political reasons behind it.

‘The Island Nation’ has made a very strong criticism of the UN’s role during the final stages of the war, says Fernando, adding the Sri Lankan government should allow such plays in Sri Lanka if it is truly committed to reconciliation.

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Strongly criticizing the int’l community & all parties to the war, it brings a tear to the viewers & invites an analysis about effects of war

‘The Island Nation’ makes a strongly criticism of the international community and all parties to the war, and it brings a tear to the viewers and invites all to an analysis about effects of war.

(BBC Sandeshaya)

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