mind adventures

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

chitty chitty shwang shwang

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she turned up at the ‘chatroom’ audition with a half-forgotten shakespearean monologue.

and i thought –

‘oh god. not another. why me? why the devil can’t people turn up at auditions with something prepared!’ groan groan mutter mutter try to be calm –

but sometimes, you can recognise a kindred spirit just by looking at them.

a director needs a leading lady.

though we are not a repertory theatre company,  casts are generally handpicked because the scripts are always difficult, often obscure and we focus on experimentation. one thing i’ve never experimented much with is casting.

back in the day, my first leading lady karen balthazaar and i had a special word we used to describe the indescribable. that special spark you feel when you watch an actor, or get really caught up in a moment of absolute magic, or you’re looking for just the right chemistry.

while i watched tehani chitty struggle to remember the words of portia (i think), that word went off in my head like a light bulb.

look up any ‘chatroom’ review on this site, and you will find out what the critics thought of tehani’s stage debut after returning to sri lanka armed with a degree in theatre.

“She is non-committal, and introverted but hides beneath her icy surface a raging reservoir of emotions. Given her relative lack of lines, and the mature delivery of the few she had coupled with some outstanding acting, Chitty was easily the star performer of the evening.”

you took the words out of my mouth, mr.amarasinghe.

i’m no quentin and she ain’t uma, but i think karen’s shoes are finally filled.

since the ‘chatroom’ production runs, tehani has appeared in a forum theatre production by ruwanthie’s ‘stages’ theatre company and in a piece created recently by jake oorloff for the UN.

a powerhouse of emotional intensity, she has the gift of restraint which i think is so vital for an actor to have. i find it lacking in many. her body language is very expressive, and she manages to comminucate  volumes without even speaking. her comic timing is instinctual and she comfortably adapts to change. most importantly, she is not afraid to share the stage – too often i see actors competing with each other instead of sharing the space. she has a talent for connecting with an audience, and really communicating, revealing her emotions simply and truthfully.

2009 marks our tenth anniversary of being a penniless experimental fringe theatre company trying to make it big in a country debilitated by civil war and a collapsing economy. tehani has actually voluntarily become part of the mayhem, vows to bring order to our chaos, and encourages me to write proposals and return phone calls. bless the chitty, she is quite genuinely an optimist.

this year, tehani will perform at the literary festival later this month in galle; in addition she’ll be in our production with the sunera foundation in june, and our 10th anniversary production of tom stoppard’s ‘arcadia’ around christmas time.



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