A SOCIO - POLITICAL CRITIQUE
Grease Yaka Returns
Written and directed by Nishantha De Silva and Rajitha Hettiarachchi, ‘Grease Yaka Returns’ had its first performance from August 17 to 19, 2018 at the Lionel Wendt. The play was performed at the State Drama Festival in February 2019, and recieved 10 awards including Best Play and Best Direction. The play was performed again in July, and August as a part of the Colombo Theatre Festival. The cast of the play include Ayudhya Gajanayake (who was awarded Best Supporting Actress for her performance), Nandun Dissanayake, Dinoo Wickramage, Chalana Wijesuriya, Pemanthi Fernando, Eraj Gunawardena, Eshani Seneviratne, Tasmin Anthonisz and Ashini Fernando. ‘Grease Yaka Returns’ is indeed a powerful play crafted to perfection by the cast and crew. As a culmination of their dedication and the integral thematic relevance of the script, ‘Grease Yaka Returns’ approached political commentary in inventive ways.
Ananda Drama produced a play named ‘Grease Yaka’ in 2014, highlighting the importance of unity among citizens especially in a fearful environment where safety has become fragile and dubious. The play was directed by Ruwanthie de Chickera, and was received well by critics and audiences alike. In 2018, years after the actual Grease Yaka scare wore off in the community, Ananda Drama produced the play ‘Grease Yaka Returns’, based on the same premise, but focusing more on the socio-political repercussions that may result in the form of division among members of the community.
‘Grease Yaka Returns’ comments on the manner in which modern society acts in relation to difference in treatment based on race, ethnicity and caste through a powerful analogy connected to skin colour. With an ensemble cast and crew consisting mainly of emerging theatre practitioners, the play highlights the manner in which an ingrained suspicion about a grease stained sexual predator looming around in the darkness can literally and metaphorically haunt members of a community. As rumours about the Grease Yaka spread, the characters on stage develop an unreal and unjustifiable fear of people with dark complexions.
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