1st Edition

Performance in a Time of Terror
Five Sinhala Plays from Sri Lanka

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after March 29, 2021
ISBN 9780367625153
March 29, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge India
188 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations

USD $47.95

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Book Description

This volume is a collection of five Sinhala plays, translated in English, which were written and performed during the most violent phase of modern Sri Lankan history.

Ranjini Obeyesekere’s translation of these five well-known and celebrated plays by K B Herath, Prasannajith Abeysuriya, Dhananjaya Karunaratne, Prasanna Jayakody and Rajitha Dissanayake highlights and explores the dynamic period of Sri Lankan theatre and performance arts in the 1980s and 90s. The plays in this collection offered a political space for criticism, introspection, discussion, and protest during a time of suppression of voices, political violence, and terror. Audiences flocked to the theatre to watch plays produced by talented dramatists and artists who were experimenting with forms and themes under extremely challenging circumstances, shoe-string budgets and strict censorship. Kanchuka Dharmasiri’s introduction to the volume further details the history and socio-political contexts of the theatre of this period, discussing themes such as dissent, identity and the brutal power of the state. She also looks at the unique formal elements employed in these plays as well as their influence and reach.

This volume is a significant addition to the growing corpus of Sinhala literature in translation. It will be an essential read for scholars and researchers of literature, performance studies, cultural studies, and the politics and history of Sri Lanka.

Table of Contents

Preface by Ranjini Obeyesekere.


Introduction by Kanchuka Dharmasiri.

1. Māyā Dēvi / Goddess of Illusion (1984) by K.B. Herath

2. Dukgannārāla / The Bearer of Woes (1989) by Prasannajith Abeysuriya

3. Jūriya / The Jury (1993) by Dhananjaya Karunaratne

4. Sevanäli saha Minissu / Shadows and Men (1993) by Prasanna Jayakody

5. Mata Veḍitiyannädda? / Aren’t You Going to Shoot Me? (1999) by Rajitha Dissanayake.


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Ranjini Obeyesekere has translated Sinhala prose and poetry for foreign and local journals, and anthologies. Her publications include Portraits of Buddhist Women from the Sadharmaratnāvaliya (2001); Yasodhara: Wife of the Bodhisattva (2009); and Sinhala Poetry in Translation (2017) among others.

Kanchuka Dharmasiri teaches in the Department of English at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. She is also a theatre director and translator.