Indu & Sanwada We have so much in common

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By 2018-01-21

By Menaka Indrakumar

Indu Dharmasena is a renowned theatre actor, with many years of theatrical performances, portraying some of the most iconic and much-loved characters on stage. He has several successful productions over years in collaboration with his wife Sanwada who is also a reputed theatre actress.

Together, the two have brought magic to each production, which always plays to a full house. Indu and Sanwada talk to Glamour about theatre, characters and marriage.

What does theatre mean to you both?

Indu - Theatre is my passion, my first love. With all the hard work that is involved in producing a play and not to mention the stress, I am happiest when I am involved in a production. Even though I have written and produced sixty-five plays (comedies) I don't consider myself a writer. I am an entertainer. I like to make people laugh and make them forget their troubles. Theatre means spreading happiness among mankind!

Sanwada – I love it! I love watching it and I love being a part of it. I love the limelight! Theatre is an escape from life, Theatre is life, and Theatre is us, all of us.

If not theatre what would you have been doing Indu?

I have a Degree in Maths. So, I guess I would have been a lecturer or working at the Central Bank...

And you Sanwada?

A doctor! I did my degree in biochemistry and I came to Sri Lanka before going back to Med School. And one thing led to another and I met Indu and the rest is history I suppose.

One theatre production you both want to act in and why?

Indu – I will act in any production if I am asked to.
Sanwada - I haven't thought about it actually. I love theatre, so any role (Character roles are always welcome), but not experimental theatre. I still haven't developed a liking for it (that's my opinion)

How has theatre progressed in
Sri Lanka?

Sanwada – I am not an authority on this subject, so I think Indu should answer....
Indu –Now that we have peace, there are more and more young people getting involved in theatre. With hardly any help from the State or the corporate sector, Workshop Players and other theatre groups have produced international standard productions. We have a lot of talented dramatists who have definitely raised the standard of theatre in Sri Lanka.

What is your best and favourite production?

Indu – I think it's the two Lerner & Loewe productions I directed & acted for St. Bridget's, namely,

'Camelot' and 'My Fair Lady.'

Sanwada – That's hard to say. Each production has pros and cons. But for sentimental reasons it will have to be Indu Dharmasena's 'Oh Colombo' done in 2005.

When did both of you realize that theatre/acting is everything to you?

Indu -I think it's after I wrote my first play while still in school (I was twelve years old), which I directed and acted in. The response was positive. Even my teachers, who were annoyed with me for missing classes due to rehearsals, encouraged me to continue with doing theatre.

Sanwada – For me, there is no exact date for this realization. If I had to say, I would say from my first production itself. See the thing is, either you love theatre or you don't. You have to really love what you do, to put in all the hard work. Thespians in Sri Lanka do theatre because they love it, and not to make money.

Your favourite T.V show, given
the chance what character do
you want to play?

Indu – British Comedy – 'Allo, Allo'! Would like to play Rene. American Comedy – 'Will & Grace'! Would like to play Jack.
Sanwada – Any role if it's offered, of course within reason.

Which is the best stage production you have performed in, and why?

Indu – It's presumptuous of me to claim my productions are the best...

Sanwada – Well I can't say that there is only one production. However, for the last couple of years we have been blessed with a committed cast and working with them has been fabulous. I have also been cast in character roles that have allowed me to grow as an actor. So, I'll say that the last 4-5 productions has been very rewarding in every aspect. Good memories, Great Times & Learnt A LOT!

One theatre actress and
actor you look up to?

Indu – There are many.

Sanwada – It's not fair to pick one, they are all good. We all learn a lot from everyone so there is no one person for me, be it actor or actress. Although I have a small crush on Jonny Depp, why? Only god knows.

Tell us something about the upcoming production?

Indu – My next production at the Lionel Wendt is in May. It might be a Ray Cooney.

Sanwada – Whatever he said .... 

Do you both get nervous before a performance?

Indu – Yes! After so many years of being on stage, I still have to water the lilies before third bell....
Sanwada – Of course! Sweaty, cold palms, butterflies in the stomach, the full works. I actually can't retain food after lunch, so soon after a play I get really hungry! If someone says they don't get nervous, they are lying!

How is it working with each other?

Indu – Since San came into my life, she assists me with the production side. And onstage, we have chemistry and a rapport and audience feedback has always been positive. So, I will say, working with the wife has made life easy for me...
Sanwada – Apart from the random threat of being pushed off stage, I have no complaints, it's wonderful.

Finally, what are the best things of being married to each other?

Indu & Sanwada – We are blessed to have found each other. We have so much in common. Not just theatre, we both love to dance, travel and enjoy wildlife and photography, we don't eat to live, we live to eat. In fact, we end up doing everything together and people seem to think that we are attached at the hip. Don't get us wrong, we do have our occasional fight, but it doesn't last for more than a couple of hours because one of us always starts laughing. It's like living with your best friend! Couldn't ask for a better partner in life. Touchwood, we are blessed!

Pic by ANURUDDHA MEDAWATTEGEDARA
Location Sooriya Village

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