University of Calgary


April 4, 2007

Beauty and the Beast:
Sri Lankan style

On Saturday, April 7, a University of Calgary instructor, two PhD students and one Master’s student will take part in Kusa-Paba, the first classical Sri Lankan drama to be produced in Calgary.

Nishad Wijesekara, a PhD student in the Department of Geomatics Engineering, is the music coordinator for the production. This is the first time Wijesekara, 31, has been involved in a drama production and he says he is eager to see the whole thing come together.

“This is a great experience and being the music coordinator for this drama really helps me balance my life with my studies,” says Wijesekara.

The drama is similar to the story of The Beauty and the Beast. In Kusa-Paba, there is a prince who is born with an ugly deformed face – played by Dr. Mohamed Nazir, an instructor with the Schulich School of Engineering. Because of his deformity the prince decides to live a life of seclusion. His parents are troubled by his decision so the prince sculpts a woman out of gold and says he will only marry a woman who looks like the perfectly sculpted one he created.

To the prince’s surprise the parents successfully find his ideal woman and the two marry without the princess finding out about the prince’s deformity. The prince finally shows his face to the princess and she is horrified and escapes back to her palace.

As the story unfolds the princess and prince learn to accept their differences and love each other for who they are inside.

The director of the production, Irangani Kaluthanthri, says Kusa-Paba is a beautiful love story that is funny and uplifting – which will appeal to all audiences.

Kaluthanthri was a teacher and principal in Sri Lanka for over three decades and continues to work with youth in Canada. She says she has a genuine concern for youth and wishes to give them tools to live in a positive way. Kaluthanthri says being part of a drama production teaches young people about discipline and communication techniques.

“Drama and fine arts have a therapeutic value and it is really necessary, I think, to get children involved – especially as teenagers,” says Kaluthanthri.

Others in the play from the U of C include PhD student Dimantha De Silva, from the Department of Civil Engineering – he is a member of the band performing for the play – and master’s student Arjuna Kodisinghe, from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, who is a member of the chorus.

Proceeds from ticket sales go to the Sri Lankan Buddhist Society where two-thirds of the money will help fund international aid projects. Projects the society has funded include the tsunami relief fund, Hela Sarana housing project, computer centre development in Paraliya and a Sri Lanka scholarship fund.

Kusa-Paba, will take place at the University Theatre on Saturday, April 7. Tickets are $20, $30 and $50 and can be purchased online at
 or by calling 264-1845.