'The One Who Loves You So' by Arun Welandawe-Prematilleke wins Gratiaen Prize 2018

The sentiment of love is universal, but the LGBTQ+ community is limited in their experience of love with the restrictions implemented by the socio-cultural discourses of the heteronormative gender binarity. ’The One Who Loves You So’, written and directed by the acclaimed theatre personality Arun Welandawe-Prematilleke was an eye-opening artistic creation embodying activism against the binary of heterosexuality while portraying a raw and honest picture of the LGBTQ+ community. The script portrayed the relationship between two men, Vidhura, a member of the local affluent class and Nick, a working-class British banker visiting Sri Lanka, meeting via a dating app.

Image Courtesy: You're My Favourite 

‘The One Who Loves You So’ by Arun Welandawe-Prematilleke scores a victory for the LGBTQ+ community through winning the Gratiaen Award 2018. Arun Welandawe-Prematilleke is an actor, writer and director, and a graduate in Drama and Theatre Arts, Goldsmiths College, London. He specialises in immersive theatre and has served as Associate Artistic Director of the Mind Adventures Theatre Company.

Arun’s position in the Sri Lankan theatre scene is characterized by overwhelming bravery and quest for truth that his latest creation presented in its portrayal of characters in several ways. Click here to read more about the play which was held in August 2018 at Namel-Malini Punchi Theatre.

The H.I.A. Goonetileke Prize for translation was awarded to Prof. Vini Vitharana for his translation of the medieval Sinhalese work of poetry the Kav Silumina, ‘The Crest Gem of Poetry’.  When translations were introduced to the Gratiaen Trust in 2003, it offered the H.A.I. Goonetileke Prize solely for translations allowing the directive of the Trust to promote authentic creative writing in English while awarding those who created a platform for English readers to gain access to most of the rich, strong literature in other languages like Sinhala and Tamil. The name is derived from H.A.I. Goonetilleke, librarian of the University of Peradeniya and a close friend of Michael Ondaatje and has come to be a much expected and recognized prize, becoming a hallmark of the Sri Lankan literary calendar and a much anticipated award by Sri Lankan writers, publishers, academics, students, and general readers both in Sri Lanka and overseas.

 Founded in 1993 by Michael Ondaatje, internationally renowned novelist, poet and essayist from Sri Lanka, the Gratiaen Trust began as a result of his prize money co-won through his novel The English Patient in 1992 for the Booker Prize. Named after his maternal family, the directive of the Gratiaen Trust is to promote and recognize creative writing and translations in English by Sri Lankan authors, publish translations between Sinhala and Tamil language writing to foster cross-ethnic relations within Sri Lanka, and advance the international recognition of Sri Lankan creative writing.

The shortlist for the Gratiaen Awards 2018 included, ‘Chats with the Dead’ by Shehan Karunatilake, ‘Youthful Escapades’ by Upali Mahaliyana, ‘The One Who Loves You So’ by Arun Welandawe-Prematilleke, and ‘They Failed to Kill Her’ by Zeneefa Zaneer. The esteemed panel of judges include Gill Caldicott, Director, British Council, Sri Lanka who has taught English literature and is a strong promoter of literature in general; Ramya Jirasinghe, creative writer and researcher; and Andi Schubert, university academic and social researcher, and Sumathy Sivamohan, filmmaker and academic; Saumya Liyanage, dramatist, actor and academic; Charulatha Thewarathanthri, writer; and Esther Surenthiraraj, university academic for the H.I.A Goonetileke Prize.

Through a strong line-up of submissions for the Gratiaen Awards, we congratulate the shortlisted winners on their stellar work. Portuguese poet, writer, literary critic, translator, and publisher, Fernando Pessoa once said, “Literature exists because the world isn’t enough.” These writers go to great lengths to expand our world through their words and vision, reflecting on society and depicting a sense of meaning. 

ARTRA is Sri Lanka’s Art Magazine exploring curated content on Sri Lanka’s visual art, performance art, applied art and written art. Launched in 2012, ARTRA Magazine is a compact monthly art read providing a comprehensive understanding on Sri Lankan artists, art events, monthly art calendars and the Sri Lankan design landscape. In sum, all you need to know about art in Sri Lanka.

10th June, 2019 Written Art | Prose