The Arts Council of Sri Lanka commissioned Sumathy Sivamohan to produce a workshop play with the upcountry Tamil community. This was part of the attempt of the Arts Council under the guidance of Dr. Dharmasena Pathiraja (Chair) and Mr. Tilak Jayaratne (Chair, Drama Panel) to nurture theatre among marginalized communities and also use it as a means of empowerment. Sivamohan worked with a group of young people hailing from the estates around Hatton, a cultural and political centre for the upcountry Tamil community. Through a series of workshops, the group as a whole developed a script called Payanangal –Journeys. The play was formulated and directed by Sivamohan Sumathy. Music was composed and organized by V. Sathananthan of Bellwood, College, Kandy.
The play is a journey that a group of women and men, hailing from the plantation community, make in our exploration of history, identity, gender and class. In this journey, they tell a story of the community in a dramatic form, through fragments of narrative about political and personal realities. They draw upon different popular forms of the people, and from the genres of literature to capture their condition of life today. They also rework a song composed by the celebrated pre-independence trade union and feminist activist, Meenakshi Amma, as a central motif to comment on modern times. Payanangal is a work in process. In this journey they express issues that are closest to their hearts, their selves. Payanangal is an ongoing journey that they, as a collective, have undertaken.
First Performed at Sri Pada College of Education, Pattana, on the 18th of July, 2007
It was also specially selected for performance as an exhibition piece at the Short Drama Festival of the Arts Council where it went on the boards on the 13th of December, 2007.