The Lovable Dictator


Sugathapala de Silva is a very strange & remarkable symbol in Sinhala Stage Drama community. No one addresses him with a prefix "Mr.", nor with Dr. or Prof.. Also he wasn't with any honorary names like "Kala Bushana" & etc. He is just Sugathapala de Silva or else the Lovable Dictator!

I happened to recollect thoughts about him recently because his 80th birthday was commemorated recently at Punchi Theater,Borella. Darmasiri Bandaranayake delivered a lecture on Sugathapala de Silva & his vision in a very sensitive manner.

Among his books, I can remember that I enjoyed the Sinhala translation of "The Gadfly" (ATA MASSA) very much. When I was reading it, I was so young & with full of revolutionary ideas.. So this book gave me much more energy to very progressive thoughts that I was with..

I wasn't so fortunate to see most of his early stage dramas, but I was fortunate enough to enjoy one of his master pieces, MARASAD (translated & produced, original script is from Peter Wise) stage drama. If I am correct, it was his last stage play & last public show.. I was also fortunate enough to see this "Giant" personality of just about 5 feet tall! When I was returning home, my palms were paining because we clapped continuously after he appeared on the stage. It was a great play, yet I didn't know why we clapped that much.. Everybody in the crowd stood up from their chairs & clapped.. So I followed.. Anyway, after that I read & learned from other people and books about the great characteristics of this person & got to know the real value of this artist.

SugathaPala was so straight forward with his ideas & didn't want to go after the governments to get awards or any titles; instead he wrote the truth & did his role as a dramatist to educate the Sri Lankan society. He was so poor in wealth, because he didn't go after money. One of my friends visited him (I wanted to join him, but I Couldn't) when he was critically ill.. My friend said, "I feel so sorry about him.. he is about to die, he lies pathetically in a very small room...his family doesn't have a home or any asset, it seems.." At that day we talked more & more about Sugathapala de Silva's fate & his role in this society. Anyhow, we came to the conclusion that Sugathapala is a happy and successful man. There is nothing to worry about him, because he wanted to do something & he did it. Money or other possessions are not with his priorities. He died on 28th October 2002.

Some of the giant personalities we see on the stage drama today are the students of Sugathapala. For example; Jackson Anthony & Darmasiri Bandaranayake

Stories are inter-connected..! If you can remember about the famous singer, late Gunadasa Kapuge, he was so hammered by media & critiques for releasing a cassette with more western type music done by famous group SUNFLOWERS. This cassette release was criticized so harshly & it was told that he has sold out his own children (his songs!) for the greed of money. Kapuge faced everything without telling any word. Only few people around him knew that Kapuge had done that cassette to get some money to help Sugathapala de Silva to spend on his medicine. People do such sacrifices! How beautiful is this world?

I always feel great, when I think about such beautiful lives, who loved mankind by means & scarified their personality for achieving much greater goals.. Definitely world has come this far because of such noble people!

I can still remember one quote told in MARASAD drama.. It’s very strange, quite funny, yet with a deep meaning..


hashitha said...

this is superb!!

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