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Alteration of Class structure in Folk drama: a Critical Analysis of staging the Kolam by the Sinhalese Middle Class in Sri Lanka

Author Affiliations

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  • 2

Int. Res. J. Social Sci., Volume 4, Issue (6), Pages 44-51, June,14 (2015)


The Sinhalese Comprador class that assumed power following the National Independence in 1948 had no interest in a modern Sinhalese culture and on the other hand, they accepted as their own the culture what the British had. The Sinhalese educated native class felt very much this lack of cultural identity. They undertook the task of creating a modern culture by means of indigenous cultural characteristics. In this respect a substantial role was played by Ediriweera Sarachchandra. He was able to compose a modern dramaturgy by adopting form and Buddhist content of the folk drama that had hither to been treated as mean cultural features and Japanese, Chinese and Indian cultural components. As a result, the value of folk dramas underwent a transformation. Instead of treating them as mean cultural characteristics, they were accepted as cultural features of national value. Teaching drama and dramaturgy as a subject at educational institutes was commenced and more time was allotted for folk drama in the curriculum. It was purely owing to this reason that the studies of the folk drama multiplied. Folk dramas were performed at national cultural festivals. While teaching of folk arts and folk drama as aesthetic studies were commenced at aesthetic academies without caste distinctions various students began to study them. Thus the approaches hitherto heaped on the folk drama gradually disappeared and instead extremely unrefined elements it contained were dropped behind and on the other hand it was enriched by the kind of stuff which could be enjoyed even by the urban elite. This reserch is devoted to examine how the folk drama existed during the colonial days prior to its subsequent transformation of which period is discussed in the light of written sources and material gathered out of a few interviews held with several noted scholars. Then an attempt has been made to ascertain how his drama Maname gained such distinction as a scholastic work of art differing from Maname Kolama which is a folk drama by means of a study of the cultural signs used in the two dramas taking them separately. Maname is a folk drama as well as a modern drama. This cultural difference also has been taken into consideration here. It has been identified here that the change of meaning pertaining to folk drama in class structure corresponds to that of politico-economics. The object of this chapter is to examine what meanings folk drama designate in class structure with special reference to Kolam drama.


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