Nelum Pokuna (Lotus Pond) Mahinda Rajapakse Theatre- a gift to the ardent theatre lover and a potential tool for the development of the Sri Lankan tourism industry
by Jetwing · Published · Updated
Sri Lanka has so much to offer to the world apart from the much publicized culture and wildlife. One potential avenue that should be considered is the aesthetic field such as arts, performance and literature. We have seen initiatives made by our literary world in promoting the Galle Literary Festival as one of the key literary events not only in the Asian region but in the entire world. This has been a great achievement in terms of tourism. We see the hotel industry booming, the local communities benefitting and the image of Sri Lanka enhanced as a suitable destination for not only the traveler but also for the intellectuals.
Perhaps we could further on the success made by the GLF and focus on promoting performing arts within the tourism industry. I believe task has been made easier in the form of the recently declared open Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapakse Theatre. Perhaps my suggestion is an eyesore for some given the person behind pioneering the construction of the theatre. I guess discussing about anything related to Sri Lanka without touching upon politics is quite impossible. Regardless of who pioneered the construction and regardless of the motives behind the construction, the theatre is now fully fledged and functional. We see more and more local artists using the unique facilities the theatre has to offer for the promotion of their artistic abilities. It is perhaps time to consider promoting the venue for the international artists and performers as well.
For instance, The Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic monuments and attractions in Australia. Since its inauguration in 1973, it has become one of the most coveted performing arts venues in the world. Due to its significant contribution to the performing arts field as well as to the architecture industry, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005. It is said that the Sydney Opera House is one of the busiest performing arts centres in the world. Apart from its attraction to those related to performance, its architecture and structure is appealing to the ordinary traveller who makes it a priority to pay a visit to the theatre while in Australia. The Sydney Opera House is a key income bringer to Australian tourism industry.
The Nelum Pokuna Theatre is one of the most unique architectural accomplishments in the recent past in Sri Lanka. The design and concept is inspired by the 12th century lotus pond built by King Parakaramabahu in the Polonnaruwa Era. One of the many royal ponds, it was designed to resemble an eight petalled lotus flower. An aerial view of the theatre will clearly make visible the open petals of a giant lotus. The Theatre consists of two venues of performance: the main auditorium and the open air amphitheatre. The lighting and sound systems are highly advanced and are superior to the many halls available in Sri Lanka. Imagine a performance of Dr. Sarachandra’s Maname or Sinhabahu performed on the stage in the Nelum Pokuna Theatre? Or, perhaps, the more contemporary performances such as the Gladitor Premaya or Colombo Colombo? Shakespearean drama competitions in Sri Lanka can raise the quality and standards of their performances to an all time high. I believe the theatre will be a spectacular venue for orchestras.
Having been located in one of the most strategic locations in the Colombo city, the Theatre is indeed a great tourist attraction. With the infrastructure of the Colombo city undergoing a massive makeover in terms of road building and landscaping, the Theatre is indeed a sight to see. Passing it every day on my way to work is a great pleasure (minus of course the long traffic lines which fingers crossed will improve in times to come). I am waiting to enjoy an actual performance there and be blown away by the sheer quality and advanced technology it has to offer.
I sincerely hope that people will put aside their petty political differences and embrace what is a true national gift to the art loving people of the country and the world. Hopefully, with strategic planning from the government and ample support from the ardent theatre and performance lovers, the Nelum Pokuna Theatre will go on to be listed as one of the most sort after performing theatres in South East Asia, as is the theatre management’s ambition and goal. Perhaps the future may even see it been known as one of the best locations for the performing arts in the world.
Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapakse Theatre: http://www.lotuspond.lk/
By Shavindri Attygalla