Hamlet at Elsie’s Bar goes online 

By Dimithri Wijesinghe 

If you are a fan of original Sri Lankan English theatre and miss taking in a show at Lionel Wendt every now and again, then you’re in luck, as “Hamlet at Elsie’s Bar” written by Feroze Kamardeen and directed by Sashane Perera will be streaming today, 15
April on Vimeo, for free (use code “HAMLET”).  

The musical which was staged for the first time from 4-8 October 2019 will be available for streaming together with several other Feroze Kamardeen productions like the political satirical comedy “Puswedilla”. 

Hamlet at Elsie’s Bar is a musical comedy which follows the fictitious tale of a young William Shakespeare suffering from writer’s block as he frequents Elsie’s Bar and is soon inspired to write his most famous tragedy “Hamlet”. 

Speaking to Feroze about why they chose to put up the full play on video streaming, he stated: “People are probably sick of rewatching and streaming on Netflix all the time; we wanted to add some variation.” 

This is somewhat an uncommon practice for the theatre company Stage Light and Magic Inc. as they have never really focused too much on their social media presence, allowing their work to speak for itself. While they have uploaded video snippets of their productions in the past and some of the much older Puswedilla productions are available on YouTube in full, Feroze stated that watching a play online is a poor substitute and he does not believe in it being a satisfactory alternative. 

The video of Hamlet at Elsie’s Bar was simply the recording the company makes for their own reference, said Feroze, adding that they often make a video for later viewing. However, it is never made with the intention of having a video release, as making such a video would require a different set design, lighting, stage arrangement, and sounds. 

Feroze shared that they are also looking into releasing a video of the second cast performances as well, which is something you can look forward to, and in the meantime they will make attempts to make other productions available via video too, as resources permit. 

The final show that the company did, or had planned to do, “Arsikland The Musical 2: The Circle of Strife” which was to be staged from 13-18 March was cut short due to the government-imposed curfew. However, Feroze shared that the cast did a performance to an empty audience, of which a recording is available. The company may soon release the footage, nevertheless Feroze shared that “the actors did a fantastic job of course, but performing to empty seats just doesn’t capture the magic”. However, the video is likely to be available online soon. 

He said that a stage play is best viewed of course, as it was intended, in a live audience – the energy and performances can only truly be captured that way. However, in these different times, when physical distancing is encouraged and for those who may be abroad and are unable to make it to catch a live show, he hopes that this serves as an entertaining treat. 


Watch the play for free using code “HAMLET” (until 15 April 2020) on Vimeo On Demand 

Written by Feroze Kamardeen

Directed by Sashane Perera

Music directed by Tehani Tissera and Amarsha Tissera

Choreography by Ayushka Nugaliyadda and Mihara Jayalath

Produced by Dinesh Maheswaran