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Old 18-01-19, 12:29 AM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Vinodh Senadheera

From: S. Thomas' College, Mt. Lavinia, Old Boys' Association <secretary@stcmloba.com>
Date: Thu, Jan 17, 2019 at 2:56 PM
Subject: Obituary - Vinodh Senadheera

SENADEERA - VINODH SENAKA DESMOND. Head of Sixth Form and Performing Arts at Colombo International School. Precentor of the Chapel of the Transfiguration,​ Choral Director and Director of the English Drama Society of S. Thomas’ College,​ Mount Lavinia. Darling son of the late Piyasena Senadeera (former Mayor of Dehiwela /​ Mount Lavinia) and Veera. Loving brother of Suresh (New Zealand) and Ashok (Canada),​ brother-in-law of Ranjika (Canada). Remains will lie at the Chapel of the Transfiguration,​ S. Thomas’ College,​ Mount Lavinia on Friday,​ 18th January from 3p.m to 9 p.m and Saturday 19th January from 7 a.m to 2 p.m,​ followed by a service at the Chapel. He will be laid to rest at the General Cemetery,​ Borella (Christian Section) at 4.30 p.m. No. 07,​ 1st Lane,​ Ratmalana.006091
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Old 18-01-19, 08:08 AM
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Default Vinod Senadeera.

For the love of Shakespeare
Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - 19:30
Ishara Jayawardane

Colombo International School (CIS) plans to stage a bold theatrical adaptation of 'Shakespeare in Love' directed by Head of Performing Arts Colombo International School (CIS) Vinod Senadeera. The cast are well drilled and well trained and feature some seasoned campaigners.

'Shakespeare in Love' was a 1998 British-American romantic comedy-drama film which won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. In the play Senadeera directs, the role of William Shakespeare is played by Aashiq Fassuhudeen and the Role of Viola is played by Amrita Khandpur.

"The play is ba{ed on the famou{ movie 'Shake{peare in Love'. We have taken the script off the movie and converted it into the theatre. If you ask me why I selected it; it is our annual school senior production and I like to have a large cast. It is one of the requirements of the school that there are more people on stage.

Maybe another reason why I selected this particular play was because we have not done comedy for a long time. To do comedy I need to have experienced actors. I need to have performers who can handle comedy because it is the most difficult genre to act in plays," said Head of Performing Arts CIS, Vinod Senadeera.

The cast and their director have a special connection having worked with each other previously and they are quite capable of handling a comedy. "But this is not a normal comedy. It is extremely difficult to perform, because there are lots of sub plots and plays within plays. You need a very alert cast and I think my cast are reaching those expectations."

Shakespeare in love is a comedy set in Shakespeare's time. The whole story is about how Shakespeare began writing his Romeo and Juliet. Having fallen in love with the movie Senadeera wanted to do a stage play.

"Shakespeare in Love is a period play in the Elizabethan Age. That is one hassle. In Shakespeare's time girls' parts were played by boys. This is because girls were not allowed to act on stage. This is difficult because most of the boys have to perform as girls and being in a mixed school it is tough. If you are in a same sex school it is easier to do things like this. Because in a school like this, that sort of culture is not easy. It is not heard of. So it is a case of the boys performing girls and it is about their removing costumes on stage. It is a lot of hard work."

From the point of view of the kids it is extremely challenging, because it requires a lot of intelligence to bring out a 16th Century attitude. So it is a tall order.

"Rehearsals have been frustrating because these kids are extremely busy with various other things. They do sports and attend various other classes and societies and it has not been an easy ride. But because I am directing school kids I always need to give children the scope to perform and do things elsewhere as well. I don't expect them to be 100 percent committed. They are all involved in other things as well and I need to accept that fact and encourage that.

But the issue is as a director, it is frustrating when you don't have a cast to work with. But it has not been that bad. We are managing and pooling in. The kids are cooperating a lot." The whole process, the whole story line of Shakespeare in Love is tremendously insightful. Because a lot of people are not aware of how Shakespeare wrote his plays.

The play will be staged at the CIS Auditorium on October 8 and 9 from 7 to 8.30 pm.

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Old 18-01-19, 08:17 AM
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Default Vinod Senadeera.

Blood Brothers on stage
Friday, October 13, 2017 - 01:00
Print Edition
Ishara Jayawardane

Colombo International School (CIS) is ready to deliver another scintillating performance with their adaptation of Blood Brothers. The thespians of CIS are working hard to put on an unforgettable performance as they have done in the past. These students are eager to put on a top class performance. Dramatic Moves meets up with the dramatists of CIS who love drama with passion.

"The latest production we are doing is called Blood Brothers and it is an adaptation of Blood Brothers and is by the senior students of CIS. It is a tradition here that the final two year students (year 12 and 13), do their own productions. We have the year 7, 8, 9 and10 doing theirs, but this is the highlight of the senior school. Blood Brothers is a lovely musical. It is a fantastic script. It is about these two twins separated at birth unknowingly and it is about their lives. The songs are fantastic and the story is very interesting with a lot of twists. It is on October 26 and 27 and the kids are practicing very hard and it is a much looked forward event at CIS", said CIS, Teacher in Charge of Drama, Vinod Senadeera.

When entering the world of the performing arts, you have a sort of self-awakening. You immediately understand that you have discovered something novel and you keep on discovering new information. It is an exciting experience.

"The performing arts in general really bring out the inner soul of the child. It is important they study in a class room and that they have career goals and their mindset in being whatever they have selected. But I am a firm believer that it is so important that a child gets involved in whatever form of performing art because it is an opportunity for them to relax and a time for them to cultivate their artistic capabilities. It is a time for children to use their talents because I believe there is something in every child that needs to be used.

It is sad that certain educationists do not see the value of performing arts. It is sad that they feel you should only study. A child cannot have a rounded life if they don't get involved in everything. Theatre is one of those avenues where children show a lot of confidence. It takes a lot of guts to come on stage and perform and students who engage in the performing arts, really shine out and come out of their shell", explained Senadeera.

By guiding these students Senadeera has learnt to appreciate various types of students. When you are directing a play you have different types of kids from different classes, different backgrounds, every child is different. You learn from the child, you learn to deal with different personalities.

"As a director I have learnt to be very patient with children. Gone are the days when you can be strict, scream and shout and get things done. Today education has changed completely. We have to put ourselves in their situation and understand them. There are limitations you have to work with. You have to give the kids an opportunity to be their own creative artistic self. I cannot force them. I have met some amazing students here. They are very dedicated and very good in their studies and their extra-curricular work as well",? pointed out Senadeera.

A different -feel-

Secretary Mahima Passella agreed wholeheartedly that drama has made her realize how much she loves the arts. A much focused young woman, drama has been a remarkable journey for her as she has grown in maturity. She is poised, and has developed a wining personality that anyone will sense the moment they speak to her.

"It has made me realize how much I love performing. Being on stage is something that is really enthralling to me. I have enjoyed it since I was a child. I have taken part in the performing arts and drama has helped me discover my self- confidence and being on stage is something that I really enjoy. Each character that I enact has something so unique about them and when you act each character, you are completely in that character. Because each character is completely different and acting them out has a completely different -feel- to it. You feel the people and completely understand how they are",? said Passella.

Learning history

President Eshana Amarasinghe brimming in confidence feels that doing drama has really opened up her life, empowering and gifting her with knowledge. The diverse range of experiences she has acquired has opened her eyes to a world that is invisible to those who may not have had the opportunity to take up drama.

"Let us take one aspect of drama which is the plays that we do. What Sir does is he takes such a diverse variety of plays. He teaches us not only the play itself but the whole context around it, the entire background. So not only do we know and learn what is happening in the present and what people feel, but we also learn about the history. Some of these plays were set in history. We learn about various different cultures. The amount we have learnt and what we are exposed to has really impacted us, so it is interesting and such a great experience",? said Amarasinghe.

"Goody two shoes"

Dehan Kamalgoda and Shelantha Fernando play the same twin "Edward" both agreed the plot on the whole tests their abilities. They admit that the plot is fascinating.

"It is a different kind of play and I have never done a play like this. The character I and Dehan play is a very -goody two shoes- and my other twin brother is the exact opposite. I mean you start to reflect how contrasting their lives are and the end is a real shocker. The difficulty is we have to go out of our comfort zone",? said Fernando.

"Both also live in contrasting neighbour hoods. Our character is from a very affluent neighbourhood, while his brother is from an under developed low class neighbourhood. The brothers were separated at birth. So it is a very interesting play because it is so emotionally charged. You need to be very adaptable, definitely doing -Blood Brothers- has made me more open to the different challenges such a role entails, a role as complex as it is. I understand the details that factor in",? said Kamalgoda.

Stature and ability

Kenula De Alwis who plays the part of "Mickey", Edward's twin brother, felt that it is a challenge portraying the role of the brother who has not been as privileged as his twin brother, someone who is not as wealthy as his brother.

"Getting into the shoes of such a character was a challenge because I have to think about the thought patterns of such a character who is from a less privileged background. So I have really learnt a lot through this experience. Drama is a representation of what happens in the real world. You talk about issues people face on a daily basis. Acting it out you make a light of these issues like bullying, friendships and relationships. Throughout my years in drama I have grown in stature and ability mainly because of the experiences. I have improved as a character having a more holistic experience", said Alwis.

The psychological element

Rishane Dassanayaka is the narrator of the play. He is the conscience of Mrs. Johnstone, a character who is not really a character.

"Narrating something I personally cannot relate to, that in itself is a challenge for me. But the advantage of that is that it leaves a lot to my imagination and my creativity. It benefits me as an actor because essentially he frames the entire play. The main psychological element comes with the thematic elements of the play. Like socio-economic background and guilt, socio economic divides and story of redemption. Dealing with these psychological elements is important to me. If you take this medium of art, it helps with broadcasting a variety of characteristics that we have in the world", said Dassanayaka.

Improves acting

Brindini Perera who plays the role of Mrs. Johnstone, the mom who has the two twins but gives one of them away and then realizes the gravity of her mistake.

"My role really challenges me as an actress. There are different classes in society and different things they go through and you start to discover that. My character has so many kids and is always grumbling that they do not have enough to eat, but there is a rich woman who has so much but she cannot have a baby. You realize that something so morally wrong can haunt you for the rest of your life. It is a constant reminder that you should not be bad! Before my character has the twins, she has seven other kids. So doing these characters really improves my acting skills. Mrs. Johnstone is addicted to drugs and is a mess and caught by the police many times. I used to have zero confidence and self- esteem before drama. Now I am comfortable communicating with people since those days I used to be quite shy", said Perera.
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Old 18-01-19, 08:17 AM
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Very challenging

Ashanee Kottage who plays the part of Mrs. Lyons admits she genuinely loves her character.

“She has a lot of mood swings and she is fake! She goes from being extremely nice to extremely rude. It is very challenging. She manipulates Mrs. Johnstone into giving one of her twins. She is very insecure and paranoid at the end of the play. It is a character that does exist in society. CIS gives us a lot of exposure",? said Kottage.

Giving insights

Reshali de Silva who also plays the character of Mrs. Lyons, is acting for the first time, playing a main role and finds it a huge challenge.

“Mrs. Lyons morphs according to different situations. The little details in the character make her all the more challenging. I am not loud and do not get angry very easily, so it is a lot to cope with. I am passionate about acting and want to continue it as a career, the role gives me insight as to how hard I should work. I am really excited about my future and I hope it all works out.

One of the reasons I am pursuing drama is because I want to work in the humanities stream. So I get to learn more about the characters of people and put myself in their shoes and understand their situation, making me more empathetic towards them. One day I am hoping to work for UNICEF. I am very sensitive and can connect with people much easily. As human beings we can make a huge difference in others' lives. You need someone who will understand and will guide you", said De Silva.


The curtain falls on an inspiring thespian
By Purnima Pilapitiya

Around 1978/79, Vinodh Senadheera walked through the gates of S. Thomas' College like every other 4 to 5-year-old on their first day of school. Vinodh's relationship with the school by the sea however, didn't come to a full stop after his school life ended. Over the last 40 years, his name became synonymous with S. Thomas', from being a gifted student to vibrant director and beloved teacher. On Wednesday, January 18, the news of his sudden death aged 45 after suffering a heart attack earlier that morning plunged the school community and Colombo's theatre circles into mourning.

These past few decades, no theatre or musical production at S. Thomas' College was complete without Vinodh buzzing around. A pillar of the arts at STC, his many roles in the College included being Precentor of the Chapel of the Transfiguration, Choral Director and Director of the English Drama Society.

Music and theatre flourished under Vinodh's guidance with notable productions such as "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe"? and their winning production of "Taming of the Shrew" at the Shakespeare Drama Competition (2011).

Vinod was also Head of the Sixth Form and Performing Arts at Colombo International School and directed the productions of the Combined Theatre Company.

Vinodh's passion for the arts blossomed early. Veteran director Jith Peiris recalls the first time he caught his attention. "I remember him very well",? Jith describes the small boy in the choir who came up to him after a service organised by the Old Boys' Union, with his mother in tow. His thirst for learning was evident even then. "He wanted to know if he could come to me for classes".? With a few Lower School productions already under his belt, Vinodh shone with potential, says Jith.

Since that meeting, Vinodh was always close at hand whenever Jith was busy with a production - either on stage as a performer or behind the scenes as stage manager. His love for teaching and learning was only second to his love for theatre and literature. Jith remembers the concentration he put into every detail. "He used to take his own notes" on almost everything. His focus combined with his genuine desire to further and foster artistic education will be his legacy, Jith adds. Offstage, Vinodh the friend, was as devoted to those he was with as much as he was to his work.

In addition to the theatrical arts, another of Vinodh's interests was the culinary arts. Jith recalls that when he suffered a stroke almost 15 years ago, Vinodh would bring him meals daily for almost six weeks, all cooked by the thespian himself.

When well-known singer Rohan de Lanerolle first met Vinodh, it was also in the STC premises. Having joined Mount from S. Thomas' Preparatory School, Rohan was encouraged to act in the Inter-House Drama Competitions. It was as a member of the school drama circle that Rohan first met the introverted senior with a flair for theatre and determination for perfection. "Vinodh was very different back then", Rohan reminisces. But his soft-spoken demeanour did not hinder the young actor's talent and in 1992, the cast of S. Thomas' Rohan and Vinodh included, went on to win the first place at the All Island Shakespeare Drama Competition for their take on "The Taming of the Shrew" with Vinodh carrying away the coveted Best Actor's award for his performance as the titular Shrew.

Watching him evolve from his senior in school, to director and then teacher "he changed tremendously"? says Rohan. Known for his unorthodox approach to teaching and legendary temper, many were the times Vinodh used to lose his cool with Rohan and the others as a young director.

Vinodh passed down a wonderful focus and old school values to countless young minds that were enriched by his knowledge and experience, says Rohan. One trait that stood out was his concern for others. As a schoolboy travelling to and from Panadura for long and late drama practices, Rohan remembers how Vinodh arranged for accommodation for Rohan at school. "It was one of the best periods of my life", he recalls of his time living at school. The director's sharp eye was not limited to the stage. His kindness and concern even forged a connection between him and the parents of his students.

For younger thespians such as Lihan Mendis, the loss of Vinodh leaves a massive void in the Thomian drama and music circles. Lihan, a young but established actor and director had dabbled in theatre while studying at S. Thomas Prep but it wasn't until he was in Grade 12 at S. Thomas' Mount Lavinia that a drama workshop changed the way he looked at the performing arts. "I was told that he (Vinodh) was an intimidating person",? Lihan recalls, saying he walked into the workshop not knowing what or who to expect. He left with a new interest in acting. "Here was a man who gave us the freedom to act", respecting and encouraging the boys to experiment with their acting with minimum character direction.

Becoming the President of the school Drama Society allowed Lihan to work closely with Vinodh. "His work ethic was unparalleled",? he says and this benefited any youngster who worked with him. As Lihan went from student to co-director in plays such as The Lord of the Flies (2018) "it was a dream to work with him".Vinodh allowed Lihan to exercise his creative licence with the respect not of a teacher but of a peer - "he even paid for my transport and food out of his own pocket" remembers Lihan of his mentor.

Vinodh's final days too were spent doing what he loved most- rehearsing with the young Thomians.


Vinodh will be missed in the literary scene

Vinodh (third from left) doing what he loved best: Directing a school drama
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Old 09-09-20, 07:59 AM
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Default Vinodh Senadheera Remembering a true friend


Vinodh Senadheera

Remembering a true friend

I helped Vinodh with his first bra, way back when he dressed for his performance as the Shrew in S. Thomas? College entry of ?Taming of the Shrew?, for the Shakespeare Drama competition. And he won the Best Actor/Actress Award in that competition!

?I don?t know how you wear these things,? he said back then, and I walloped him. Thereafter began a friendship that spilled over decades, into the next generation.We both qualified from different schools, in Trinity London exams, and started our teaching careers with Speech & Drama.

Vinodh and I read Literature in local universities that we were infinitely proud of, and then we worked together for a brief stint at the ?British School?, when it was based in Rajagiriya. We later handed in our resignations on the same day and went back to our respective alma maters to teach.

To know Vinodh was to know S. Thomas?. He gave unstintingly to the College. The choir, the drama club, the London Section, Director, Teacher, Headmaster... The caps were many that he wore.

And then he met Ranoukh, my son! When Ranoukh started school, the 5th generation of his family to do so, Vinodh walked over to the Primary section and signed him up for the ?Canto Perpetua? Choir. The very first KG student...and under Vinodh, Ranoukh blossomed; just like everybody else did with his help... But this was different.

If we were friends before, now we became family. When Ranoukh?s Godfather refused the post, Vinodh stepped in. He encouraged, sustained, and supported us through the hardest years that were to come.

When I most needed a friend, Vinodh walked in straight from the airport and a gruelling flight, to hug, to hold, and just to sit. At my dad?s funeral, I never saw him... I heard him; he walked into the choir loft and with a gathering of other special friends, he played the organ. He played and left. At every Carol Service of S. Thomas? (and I?ve only missed two in all the time he was choir master), there?d come a text, ?...say a prayer, Shari.?

The protective love of a mentor shone through him at every chord! And then came the continuous run of a repertoire of performances that saw boys grow to men?that taught maturity, independence, and the value of family. If Ranoukh?s room is dotted with posters of Narnia, Nickelby, Gaudette; then my memory is forever coloured with my Shrew.

With time, it became ?the thing? that I?d buy the first tickets to all his productions, wherever they were. He was convinced it brought good luck; so the phone would buzz, sometimes just an SMS (play name, tickets, date). Of course I?d rush to buy them, how could I not?

There were arguments, histrionics, strong differences of opinion, and also sulks; but as Eric Segal once said, ?Love means never having to say you?re sorry?...and I?m not!

Some people have an impact on a few, some on many, but on this many youth? This many friends? This many lives? This many beings inspired by him? My friend, you?d be horrified at this outpouring of love. I can hear you say, ?Here, now enough!?

Vinodh could cook, and I loved his cooking; we happily supplied him with the entire selection of Nigella?s recipe books, latest implements...and sampled all the delights. He?d drop in after a day?s teaching and we?d share a bite and a chat. A friendship not in the public eye...a quiet sharing of thoughts.

Vinodh in public was a keg of dynamite; Vinodh in private, was strength. I could talk for ages about Vinodh; about the dramatist, about the producer, the newsreader, the actor, the critic, the teacher, the director, the choir master, the joker?even the mentor! But I find, I still can?t talk about my friend...perhaps because he?s not gone yet.

Perhaps because he lives in so many youths? thespian talent:

In the vibrant drum sticks of the young drummer, he mentored from Form 1;

In the writings of the now-qualified youth;

In the skillful sets designed and created by one who grew under him,

In the choral voices raised in hymns,

In the prayers of a friend in clerical robes,

In the tears of a mother, who in spite of her fears, will never be alone, (because her very own guardian angel, now walks with her)

In the laughter of batch-mates who encouraged his talent,

In the smile of a lost photo, now found, of his own lecturer,

In the same smile of a brother,

In the very grass of the quadrangle, in the chapel, in the classroom;

And finally, in the pen of the young eulogist, who wrote:

?But in your name, sir, the man who made me,

I shall keep up my efforts and give up, never!

Because sir, like the last line you read to me,

?For you a thousand times over?.?

(Ranoukh Wijesinha, January 16, 2019)

No, he?s not gone anywhere...

Vinodh, my friend, you are here; you are a part of us...the best part!

Sharika Jayewardene
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