mind adventures

an experimental theatre company set up in sri lanka in 1999.

the boy who said no

let me take you back to january 2007 and the first ‘chatroom’ audition.

i was a little apprehensive, wondering who on earth – if anyone – would turn up. i’d put out the audition call only on the blog, and for the first time ever had not the slightest idea of who i would cast in the play.

20 people turned up. some were prepared, some were clueless, some extrovert enough to blag their way through, and others just there out of curiosity.

halfway through the proceedings, after i’d shouted out the customary ‘next!’, a skinny kid shuffled onto the audition area and stood there, looking absolutely ill at ease and blatantly wishing he were somewhere else.

i asked him if he had a prepared audition piece.

he said no.

i asked him if he had any idea of what he wanted to do.

he said no.

i asked him why he was there.

he said he didn’t know.

not what you’d call the beginning of a beautiful friendship, eh?

i don’t know what it was, that made me want to see what he could do. perhaps a mixture of pity (for him) and desperation (that would be me). so i chatted to the kid about comic book heroes – i think he was wearing a batman t shirt or something.

turned out he loved spiderman, so i gave him about 5 minutes to improvise something about him.

he turned in a twitchy, despondent, vulnerable peter parker that really got my attention.

but it didn’t end there.

i cast him in the play and called him up to tell him he was in. i wasn’t expecting an oscar winner’s speech, i wasn’t expecting unbridled euphoria or sobs of gratitude. and i definitely wasn’t expecting him to say something along the lines of ‘no, i can’t, i’m not an actor’. which is exactly what he did do.

i had to bully, badger and practically beg the boy to take part in ‘chatroom. in which ‘ruvin de silva… stood out in his supporting role as jack.’ according to the nation’s fiona wright.

in just under two years, ruvin has two runs of ‘chatroom’, ‘samurai’ and jake oorloff’s ‘bedtime stories’ to his credit. he’s also in the bbc 4 radio docu-drama about richard de zoysa directed by william scott richards earlier this year.

from a personal point of view,  he has turned out to be a director’s dream. intelligent, sensitive, focused, with a willingness to experiment with any suggestion a director may give.  his style is understated yet compelling, and he has the potential to play both serious and comic roles with great effect.

we’re on our 4th production together now, preparing to perform at the galle literary festival in jan ’09.

he tells me that i ‘discovered’ him. and though i take it as a massive compliment, it’s my turn to say no.

i wholly disagree with directors who hold actors that they have ‘discovered’ to ransom with those awful words ‘i created you’ or ‘without me, you’d be nothing’ or ‘you can’t be in so-and-so’s play… its us or them’. i find it so short sighted and pretentious.

english theatre in sri lanka is barely more than 60 years old. how will we grow? how will we establish our own identity? become truly professional in all aspects? how will we improve our skills and potential if we do not share? if we do not allow young actors the freedom to have a variety of experiences, to avoid becoming complacent, to avoid thinking that there is nothing new to be felt and experienced outside of what they already know?

wait. just let me get off this soap box.

whew. ok. where was i?

ruvin. ever-ready, ever-willing, one of my favourite actors, and the first in a series of profiles i will be publishing about the cast of our new show.



  The Prankster wrote @

What a joy to have some great selfless writing & commentary. Thank you.

  Electra wrote @

Wonderful, Trace. Bravo.

In a way, thank you for ‘discovering’ us all. It’s been so great discovering each other, making awesome new friends, and most of all, discovering ourselves.

The greatest thing about Ruvin, is just as he says: he’s doesn’t consider himself an ‘actor’. There’s no pretense, there’s no ego, he’s just a boy, who truly feels.

I love you Bruvin, and I love you, Trace.

  Ruvin wrote @

🙂 tears tears…
bruvin loves you too bubha

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