Nadagama

Definition

Theater

  • A type of rural folk theater in Sri Lanka. Originally a form of religious drama, it was introduced in the early 19th century by Catholic missionaries; secular stories about local heroes were soon, however, added. The so-called Father of Nadagama was the blacksmith Phillipu Sinno, who wrote more than a dozen plays.

    Nadagama is acted in the open air. The stage, a raised and roofedplatform without a curtain, is separated from the dressing room by painted scenery. The drama begins when the presenter (Pote Gura), invokes the deities and prays for a successful performance. He then outlines the plot and introduces each of the stock characters, including a jester, a wise man, and two soothsayers. The introductory chants, which last for about three hours, are followed by the appearance of the king, who summons various members of his court who enter with ceremonial song and dance. The scene is now set for the main dramatic action, which is narrated by the Pote Gura. Nadagama playsare generally long and episodic, and may run for up to seven evenings.

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