Checkpoint – Three Strangely Normal Plays is a compilation of three pieces of theatre that provide intriguing reality checks into the world around us. The plays expose the strangeness of our normal lives, a strangeness that is at the same time funny and disturbing.
When Checkpoint was first performed in Colombo in 2001, checkpoints were as common as night boutiques in the city. Like the name of the production, the content too was extremely relevant to Colombo theatre-goers at the time and it was widely acknowledged as a ground-breaking piece of Sri Lankan theatre.
Checkpoint comprises three short plays – two original Sri Lankan scripts and a segment of forum theatre.
Last Bus Eke Kathawa -
Last Bus EkeKathawa is a one-man show set during the 1989 JVP insurrection. A drunk accosts a group of travellers on the last bus home, subjecting them to his life story.
The 24 Hour Store -
Set in a chicdepartment store, this play, written with absurdist undertones, takes the audience on a strange journey of through the observations of a group of shop mannequins.
24 Hours -
Responding to the surrounding political situation in 2006, Checkpoint replaced The 24 Hour Store with 24 Hours – a piece of verbatim theatre researched by the cast who collected local reports over a period of 24 hours, on a very bizarre and tragic day in Sri Lankan history.
Forum Theatre -
Forum theatre offers the theatre audience an opportunity to get involved in the making of the play.
The actors perform a stem-scene that is taken to a state of crisis and then stopped. The resolution to the problem is then in the hands of the audience. The rest of the play unfolds according to the suggestions of the audience, made then and there.
Checkpoint was first produced in Sri Lanka in July 2001. It enjoyed two highly successful sell-out runs at the British Council. Following the immense success of the production, Stageshas received many requests to re-run the play.
In November 2005, the production – sporting a new cast – was toured in India as part of two separate theatre festivals; the WIPSAFestival of South Asian Theatre which was toured in the cities of Lucknow, Varanasi and Bubhaneshwar; and the BahuroopiNational Theatre Festival in Mysore. The troupe received critical acclaim for its performances in each of these cities. The Forum Theatre segment of the play received special mention, as this provided a completely new theatrical experience for the audiences.
Checkpoint – Three Strangely Normal Plays was next revived, revamped and performed in Sri Lanka in September 2006, as the maiden performance in the British School Auditorium. Once again, it was a sell-out success.
In 2007, Checkpoint was invited again to India on two separate occasions. First, as part of the Bharat Rang Mahaotsav – annual theatre festival. For the 2007 festival, the National School of Drama invited Stages to perform Checkpoint, not only in Delhi, but in Calcutta too, as part of the Festival’s parallel satellite festival. The second Indian festival Checkpoint was performed at was at the Metro Fest international theatre festival organised by The Hindu (newspaper), in Chennai, August, 2007.
The final performance of Checkpoint was back in Sri Lanka, in Kandy in September 2007.
“Acted out brilliantly by Gihan de Chickera, the play proves to be one worth watching”- Sunday Observer, 2001
“They play with words in this trio of plays. There’s so much play on words. They play hard ball. Play havoc with your emotions, your prejudices, your perceptions, your pre-conceived notions. Play you like a fish on a line. Now a gentle tug, now a tearing yank. They play now with broom, now with dolls, now with emotions. In the end you are all played out” – Checkpoint – British School Daily Mirror, September 21, 2006 – Samantha D. S. Wijeratne
“Experienced. Powerful. Multi-talented. Daring. Innovative. Risk-takers. Rule-breakers. News-breakers”- Checkpoint – British School, Daily Mirror, September 21, 2006 – Samantha D. S. Wijeratne
“Performed as brilliantly as always, watching Gihan do his almost trade-mark one-man number is always a delight, for his instantaneous changes from passive passengers to distraught drunk are just so slick and the build-up of emotional tension is so well controlled” - Checkpoint – British School, Daily Mirror, September 21, 2006 – Samantha D. S. Wijeratne
“Fascinating: watching the actors deal with totally new scenarios suggested by the audience and face an impromptu scene while remaining true to the character”- Checkpoint – British School, Daily Mirror, September 21, 2006 – Samantha D. S. Wijeratne
“It was remarkable that the actors were able to develop the audience ideas into full-fledged scenes on the spot, without any preparation” – Metro Fest – Chennai, The Hindu, August 7, 2007 – Dr. Madhavan Mukundan
“I was rather fearful about the kinds of response one could get in a large proscenium and with the kind of audience I expected. But the bold experience worked remarkably well thanks to the skill of the performer and director and probably the presence of many theatre personnel and socially committed people in the audience” – Metro Fest – Chennai, The Hindu, August 7, 2007 – Mina Swaminathan
‘…wholly absorbing…’ – Metro Fest – Chennai, The Hindu, August 7, 2007 – Soudhamini
“Gihan de Chickera performed this one-man play with tremendous zest and perfect sense of comedy. His narrating style, mutating body with perfect-ease shifts in the tone of his language were all amazing. The drunken in him won hands down. – Metro Fest – Chennai, The Hindu, Syed Ali Mujtaba
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