Scott’s workshops were not the only innovations we were pursuing in the field of drama. After the initial programmes of dramatized readings, we had moved on to full length plays, Richard’s ‘Merchant’ and then Steve’s ‘Anarchist’, and we clearly had a pool of very talented youngsters willing to learn and put in long hours. I realized however that this gave them as much pleasure, indeed more perhaps, than it gave us and the audiences.
I should note that I was able to indulge myself too through the dramatized readings we did. In 1985 Yolande had produced the adaptation of ‘Electra’ that I had written way back in 1970. Ernest MacIntyre, the doyen then of innovative English theatre in Sri Lanka, had been impressed by the script, and was even planning a production. Meanwhile he recorded some of it for radio, with Suvimalee Karunaratne as Clytemnestra – a lady of great grace but also intensity, who is now a Buddhist nun – and this was scheduled for broadcast in April.
It was cancelled at the last minute, and we had to listen instead to music by Bert Bacharach, which I have disliked ever since. It turned out that the authorities had got cold feet, because the plot concerned a woman who had killed her husband, and then been killed in turn by her children, Electra who was determined to revenge her father, and Orestes who was less certain but who Electra ensured lived up to her image of him. Since the JVP insurrection had just broken out, some bright spark in the SLBC thought that the play was a clarion call to the youth to take up arms against the wicked Mrs Bandaranaike, who was being accused of having killed her husband.