The Peradeniya Theatre Set in the Mid-1950s

When vising Francis Pietersz and his daughter Coralie about two years back I was given access to his photo album containing old photographs of play presented at one of the residence halls at Peradeniya Campus in the mid-1950s. I believe that one can identify Revd Fr. Pinto in the front row of the audience.

My special interest was in the pictures of my sister Audrey on stage, in what seems to be a star role in Grecian play (perhaps Antigone …but I am no expert in this field). That Francis has such photographs is due to the fact that his girl friend and wife-to-be the late Indrani Gomes was also a stand-out member of the theatre set at Peradeniya Campus in the early-mid fifties and features on stage in this play. The English theatre set included such personnel as Sheila Jansen, Damayanthi Ellepola, Yasmine Gooneratne, Gihan Wijewardena, Ira Hattotuwegama (information from Francis Pietersz and Ranjini Obeyesekere — in a listing that will be added to)

The central inspiration behind this efflorescence, of course, was EFC Ludowyk. Lynn Ludowyk was born and bred in Galla and its Fort precincts. The Ludowyks were close friends of the Roberts clan. The spinsters Rene Ludowyk, Sheila Roberts and Marge Roberts later set up house together in Kirulapona, living rent free next to Sydney and Dodo Sirimanne.



Rex OLEGASEGARAM to Michael, 22 August 2019: “Hi Michael,  This brought back pleasant memories. In my first year ,  Sheila Jansz, Chulla Unamboowe, John Gooneratne and I played for the Hilda Obeyesekere team in the inter-hall One Act plays “ The man who married the Dumb wife”. Audrey would have led the James Pieris Team. She was a vibrant person. I do not think Ernest MacIyntyre was heavily involved at that time. Later on however Ernest wrote and produced some very good plays. His direction of “ Death of a salesman”  with Winston Serasinghe and Sheila Jansz was a masterpiece. This was just after Ernest finished Uni. I recall Francis Pietersz role of Androcles in George Bernard Shaw’s “ Androcles and the Lion ”directed by that maestro EFC Ludowyk. I played the same role in 1952 produced by S. John’s College, Jaffna.  Due to commitments in Sports at Peradeniya. I  did not pursue drama after my first year.”

Ernest MacIntyre & Sid Perinpanayagam in combination have indicated that the Inter-hall Drama competitions commenced in 1954 and that Hilda Obeyesekera Hall won the Prize with Audrey Roberts in the role of “Medea”. The judges were Fr. Pinto and Professors Vithiananthan and Robin Mayfield. MacIntyre adds: “[Mayfield] is not in the picture for some reason. Strangely I couldn’t identify any one in the audience.”

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