Walking Path- A devised play without words co-written by Jayampathi Guruge and Ruwanthie de Chickera. @ The Lionel Wendt Theatre, 18 Guildford Crescent, Colombo. July 26-27 @ 7:00 PM.
"Walking Path", is a play about the new walking path culture of Sri Lanka– the culture of exercise, of healthy living, of beautification of the city and people within it.
The play uses Colombo’s walking paths as a symbol to understand this emerging sub-culture in post-war Sri Lanka, and was created along the walking paths of Colombo, where the actors spent many days observing human behavior and interaction.
‘Walking Path’ is a play without words. This is because most of the human behavior around the walking paths happens without the noise of words and Director Jayampathi Guruge feels strongly that words trap or limit meaning. "When people think of a play with no language, they immediately think of mime. For this reason mime is deliberately minimised and music is also used sparingly."
Admittedly the play is bewildering at first with actors silently jogging around the stage, couples sitting together and confusingly one chap seemingly having a conversation with a sock puppet. Gradually sense creeps in and explanations filter into the mind.
One couple gets a bit too physical, then hastily separate after feeling the weight of disapproving stares; this type of enforced morality is common on the walking paths, says Guruge, who insists he is trying to capture the subtle nuances that make up the structure of this subculture.
"People who use walking paths are of a certain class but within that there is great variety and I want people who are part of this subculture to take a step out of themselves and see what they are part of. I also want people who are not part of the walking path culture to get an insight into it." said Guruge explaining how experienced actors from both English and Sinhala drama have joined together to provide this bridge of sorts.
"I’m not judging them," he emphasised, "I’m simply trying to show what is and let the audience take what they will. If they find it interesting, or meaningful or deepening their understanding, then it’s an individual experience."