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Standard Chartered Colomboscope 2014

Colomboscope 2014 is an arts festival taking place in cool places around Colombo.

  • 29 R G Senanayake Mawatha, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Colomboscope 2014 is an arts festival taking place in cool places around Colombo. The events happen in three broad areas which are worth exploring - Modera (Colombo North), central Colombo and Colombo 7. Some events are ticketed, some are free, and they have a shuttle bus service to the more distant locations. Looks like an interesting time to explore culture and the city.

You can see all the locations with maps here, we've tried to give rough directions here.

Thursday 30 January



This event is by invitation, but we include it for reference.

KESEL MADUWA (8:00 PM, Sri Lanka Foundation) - this dance performance by Venuri Perera covers, well, we'll just quote: "The ancient healing rituals of Sri Lanka are complex communal ceremonies that combine dance, drama, dialogue, exorcism, humor and satire. Elaborate costumes are an essential part of these rituals. Drawing on these elements, this piece attempts to construct a ritualistic performance, infected with the uncertain energies of a society in transition."

The Sri Lanka Foundation is behind Independence Square. If you walk away from Independence Square down the walkway, after the ponds end you turn right and keep going, crossing the road. It's just there.

Friday 31 January



HISTORY-SCOPE: My Mother’s Village (3:00 - 4:45 PM, New Town Hall, FREE) - This free film screening is a very interesting story by Aaron Burton. It shows how his parents village has changed in the 30 years since he left. The footage from past and present is very interesting.

New Town Hall Auditorium is next to Summer Garden and the National Art Museum on what is commonly known as Green Path and actually called Nelum Pokuna Mawatha. This is Colombo 7.

NIDI NATHI NADIYA: A Tribute To Sunila Abeysekera (5:00 - 5:20 PM, New Town Hall, FREE) - This is an excerpt from the 1986 concert Nidi Nathi Nadiya, in tribute to Sunila Abeysekera. This recording, once lost and recently rediscovered, gives us an impression of the spirit of the times and a long-forgotten social movement.

THE OTHER VOICES: TRUTH IN ART: Panel Discussion (5:30 - 6:45 PM, New Town Hall, Rs. 500) - This discussion features actor/director Arun Welande-Prematilleke, international artist Pietro Ruffo, playwright Sunil Wijesiriwardena, and writer Sunila Galappatti. They'll be discussing art vs. official history, among other things.

JANA GEE REWORKED (7:00 PM, Sri Lanka Foundation, Rs. 500) - The Serendib Sorcerers are doing a musical show. This group is an extension of the talented, erudite and entertaining Music Matters group and we highly recommend. They can get experimental but it's always interesting. The event is described as "The evolution of music in Sri Lanka – a look back in time at its indigenous music."

FESTIVAL LOUNGE EVENT (8:00 PM, Grand Oriental Hotel, FREE) - This is the first day afterparty at the GOH, a mediocre hotel with an amazing view that's been crying out for a proper party like this.

Saturday 1 February



TOUR OF MODERA (10:15 - 11:15 AM, Whist Bungalow, FREE) - this tour of Modera (North Colombo, once one of Colombo's elite neighborhoods) seems really cool. It's conducted by Asoka De Zoysa.

The Whist Bungalow is an awesome if neglected colonial building in Modera. To get there, head out of Fort keeping the ocean on your left, past the port, past Kotahena, up a hill, past a park and for a ways. Then pass a small Commercial Bank and turn left down Madampitiya Road. Then turn right at St. Peter's and head down Modera Street. It's just past the first road on your left.

Alternately, just take the shuttle bus service running from the Goethe Institute (at 9:00 AM) and Grand Oriental Hotel (9:30 AM). It runs every two hours on the 1st.


IF WALLS COULD TALK (10:30 AM to 11:15 AM, Whist Bungalow, FREE) - this talk by historian Deborah Philip should be interesting, covers the history and stories of the Whist Bungalow and surrounding Modera.

SOUTH ASIAN DILEMMAS: VIOLENCE, DEMOCRACY AND THE POLITICS OF LANGUAGE (11:30 AM to 12:45 PM, Whist Bungalow, Rs. 500) - This panel discussion asks "Can the same social, political and psychological methods that create and sustain social movements also be used to subdue and govern them?".

LUNCHTIME MUSIC: 19TH CENTURY SALON MUSIC (1 to 2 PM, Whist Bungalow, Rs. 500) - This should be a treat, the Chamber Music Society is playing a concert in the lovely Whist interior.

MEMORY AND REMEMBRANCE (2:15 to 3:30 PM, Whist Bungalow, Rs. 500) - This panel discussion covers "The pressure of a single historical narrative challenges concepts of truth, memory and memorialising. How do we serve the needs of both private memories and public remembrance?"

READING CORNER – LAND WHERE I FLEE: PRAJWAL PARAJULY (3:45 to 4:45 PM, Whist Bungalow, FREE) - Popular young Indian author Prajwal Parajuly talks about his new book with Smriti Daniel.

HISTORY’S LENSES (4:45 - 6:00 PM, Whist Bungalow, Rs. 500) - Writer Ashok Ferrey moderates an international panel (featuring Chinaman author Shehan Karunatilaka) discussing "Through the eye of a writer or the gaze of a historian, how do writers of personal histories reconcile their roles as both insider and outsider?"

HISTORY-SCOPE: LAND OF SILENCE (6:15 - 6:45 pm, Whist Bungalow, FREE) - Cannes Camera d'Or winner Vimukthi Jayasundara screens "A documentary about war and loss – as it happens and as it is lived. Shot in black and white to give the appearance of archival footage, we are forced to view recent events from a new perspective."

MUSIC UNDER THE STARS: NO MORE MARX (6:45 - 7:30 pm, Whist Bungalow, FREE) - Ajith Kumarasiri (Rock Ajith) performs "Satire and commentary through song."

SUPER NIGHT SHOTS – GOB SQUAD (8 pm, Rio Cinema, Rs. 500) - Moving to Slave Island, this film screening in what is usually a soft-core porn theatre sound interesting: "This is a multi-screen film in which the city becomes a film set for a fantastical mission. The result is a movie that is at the same time a product and a process, both a ‘making of’ and the thing itself."

FESTIVAL LOUNGE EVENT - JAZZ BY MUSIC MATTERS (9:00 PM, Grand Oriental Hotel, FREE) - This is the second day afterparty at the GOH. Music Matters plays great music and the view over the harbor may be the best in the city.

Sunday 2 February



IF WALLS COULD TALK (10:30 AM, Grand Oriental Hotel, FREE) - Historian Deborah Philip discusses the history of the hotel and of Fort.

HISTORY IN THE AGE OF SOCIAL MEDIA (10:30 AM, Old Town Hall, FREE) - This conversation with European professor Serge Noiret covers "Real-time documentation, as a result of constantly evolving media aparatus, creates possibilities for multiple narratives. What are the ethics, integrity and validity that govern such methods of recording histories?"

Old Town Hall is basically at the end of Pettah. Follow Main Street to the last roundabout. It's on your right.

CHANGING LANDSCAPES – CHANGING MINDS (11:30 am - 12:45 pm, Grand Oriental Hotel, Rs. 500)- This panel discussion discusses whether "Buildings and monuments can choose to preserve history, erase it or rewrite it. Public space can create an identity and re-invent the image of a nation. What is the trade off between history, development and myth making?"

SRI LANKA: WHAT IF? (12:15 -1 PM, Old Town Hall, FREE) - This panel discussion with Bradman Weerakoon is worth checking out. He served 9 Sri Lanka heads of state. The panel covers - "What if the 1962 coup had succeeded, if the 1971 insurrection had triumphed, or if the 1983 riot never happened? History is about turning points, choices made, and roads not taken."

LUNCHTIME CONCERT – ‘IN C’ COMPOSED BY TERRY RILEY (1 - 2 PM, St Peter's Church, Fort, Rs. 500) - This minimalist concert by the Chamber Music Society is worth checking out for the location alone, St. Peter's is just at the entrance to the port (next to Grand Oriental) and it's a gem.

To get there take York Street past the Hilton, past Cargills, until it ends at the Port Authority. St Peter's is on your left.

READING CORNER: JOANNA KAVENNA and ADAM FOULDS (1:15 - 2:30 PM, Old Town Hall, FREE) - The Country Director of the British Council leads two international authors in book readings and conversation.

HISTORY-SCOPE: FIVE BROKEN CAMERAS (1:30 to 2:45 pm, Rio Cinema, FREE) - "5 Broken Cameras, a documentary film from 2011, is a first-hand account of protests in Bil’in, a West Bank village affected by the Israeli-West Bank barrier creating a version of history that contests official narratives."

SOCIAL HISTORY AND THE RISE OF THE CITIZEN HISTORIAN (2:15 - 3:15 pm, Grand Oriental Hotel, Rs. 500) - Mirak Raheem discusses "the Egyptian experience where the citizen, activist and archivist become one" with two people who lived through the recent revolution there.

CLOTHED IN IDEOLOGY: DRESSING THE FEMALE BODY IN HISTORY (3:30 - 4:14 pm, Grand Oriental Hotel, FREE) - This interview with lecturer Asoka de Zoysa is "a look at Sri Lanka’s political, social and moral ideologies expressed through clothing."

READING CORNER: ABBAS KHIDER & DONAL MCLAUGHLIN (3:45 - 5:00 PM, Old Town Hall, FREE) - Readings and conversation between Arab German author Abbas Khider and writer Donal McLaughlin.

HISTORY- SCOPE: DIASPORA STORIES (4:30 to 5:15 pm, Rio Cinema, FREE) - This film screening by Tanuja Thurairajah covers "The lives of others through the lens of a migrant filmmaker, as she walks the paths of migration, a new home and the struggle for identity."

WHOSE NARRATIVE IS IT ANYWAY? (5:30 - 6:45 pm, Grand Oriental Hotel, Rs. 500) - This authors panel featuring Shyam Selvadurai asks "Do diaspora writers have no choice but to borrow imagery from disparate groups?"

SUPER NIGHT SHOTS – GOB SQUAD (8 pm, Rio Cinema, Rs. 500) - Moving to Slave Island, this film screening in what is usually a soft-core porn theatre sound interesting: "This is a multi-screen film in which the city becomes a film set for a fantastical mission. The result is a movie that is at the same time a product and a process, both a ‘making of’ and the thing itself."

FESTIVAL LOUNGE EVENT (8:00 PM, Grand Oriental Hotel, FREE) - This is the last afterparty at the GOH. Should be bumping.

Paraya (9 pm, Rio Cinema, Rs. 1000) - Paraya is the choose-your-own-adventure play that first made the Rio an art space. It's intense. "This is visceral and provocative immersive theatre. The audience enters an alternate world in the midst of a startling crisis. The play follows ten characters whose narratives play out simultaneously. There are no seats; there is no stage. You will create your own adventure."

Monday 3 February



Paraya (8 pm, Rio Cinema, Rs. 1000) - See above, only difference is that it's at 8 pm, not 9. Good play.
Phew. Enjoy. For more info their website is quite good. Tickets are available at the door (for ticketed events). For more information contact Goethe-Institut on +94 11 2694562 or British Council on +94 (0)11 7521521.
Standard Chartered Colomboscope 2014

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