A RESEARCH AND THEATRE PROJECT
INITIATED BY STAGES THEATRE GROUP IN SRI LANKA
“Dear Children, Sincerely…” (DCS) is a research and theatre project begun in 2015 in Sri Lanka, that collects the stories and experiences of the generation born in the 1930s, and takes them to the present day youth in the form of storytelling and live performance.
Under the DCS project, short performance pieces are created from extensive conversations conducted with senior citizens, with each performance piece not more than 15 minutes long. These stories stand alone as individual performance pieces and can also be linked together to create longer theatrical productions.
Thus far more than 70 Sri Lankans of this generation have been spoken to, and more than 15 short performance pieces created.
The generation born in the 1930s is truly a remarkable generation. This generation has memories of the Second World War and the Holocaust. They experienced the British Empire, witnessed the fall of socialism, the collapse of the Berlin wall, the dissolution of the Soviet Union – and the unfettered rise of market-capitalism. They saw the establishment of the United Nations and the enshrinement of international human rights, living through the movements for equality of women, ethnic and racial minorities, sexual and gender minorities, castes and class.
In Sri Lanka, this generation was born during Colonization and have living memories of Sri Lanka’s Independence. Witnessing and sometimes sculpting the turning points of Sri Lanka’s modern history, they lived through the rise and fall of the Left, saw the beginning of the Ethnic Conflict, witnessed the two youth insurrections, saw the beginnings of the race riots and lived through the 30 year Civil War.
The purpose of the DCS project is to encourage senior citizens to look back critically and reflectively on the journey of their country in order to try and understand it in retrospect. The perspectives, memories, stories and journey of this generation, who grew up in parallel lines to the country, are crucial to capture, in order to understand the very complex how and why of current-day Sri Lanka.
Through listening to the memories and perspectives of this generation, present day audiences are encouraged to open their minds to stories they may not be familiar with, people they may know nothing of, communities they may not have been interested in, and worldviews that they may have been discarded. This project is also a fascinating insight into how memory works; what people retain, how they retain it, what gets carried on and how histories are built or why they are erased.
Performance pieces devised under the DCS Project (now in its 3rd successive year) have been performed and toured within and without Sri Lanka. Other countries have also adopted the principles of the DCS project. The first DCS show was a reflection on Sri Lankan and Rwandan history and was staged in Kigali at the inaugural Ubumuntu Arts Festival, in 2015. DCS shows have since then been toured in Kerala, Jammu, New Delhi and Mumbai. DCS performances have also taken place in Ireland and the UK, and were adopted by ASHTAR – the Theatre International Youth Festival, Palestine 2016. In August 2017, DCS will be presented at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.