THE YOUNG CRITICS COMPETITION
Presented by Whyteleafe Performing Arts Academy
Acompetition should be appreciated when young critics,being representatives of their generation, are given a chance to express themselves without voicing the hackneyed opinions of adults, acknowledged Buddhadasa Galappatty, the award winning poet, writer and columnist who expressed his views as the judge of “The Whyteleafe Young Critics Competition” held at the Whyteleafe Performing Arts Academy for the 5th consecutive year recently.
Furthermore, he added his admiration saying “this competition by Whyteleafe Performing Arts Academy is the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, for it had not been seen done in any school or university up to date ”. The students of Whyteleafe are provided with guidance about critically reviewing works of art for 2-3 years at the academy. This is followed by the Young Critics Competition which enables the students to think critically and present creatively. After a friendly but thorough evaluation by the judges, the winners will be awarded in the annual awards ceremony; “Whyteleafe Excellence Awards”. This concept of encouraging students to have a critical point of view, acknowledge it and respect it, was introduced by Nalaka Swarnathilake, the founder Director of Whyteleafe Performing Arts Academy. In an age, where most children are addicted and misguided by social media and television dramas, his vision enables the students of Whyteleafe to use their instincts, imagination and creativity in a productive manner. The young critics were not categorized into age groups when being evaluated. This created the freedom of critiquing any form of art for the competitors, regardless of the age and a broader platform to gather opinions for the audience. Had they been branded by age, as an audience we would have missed the element of surprise in seeing younger students presenting advance ideas, as well as the awe in seeing older students embedding simplicity in their entries. It was quite amazing to witness these students of Whyteleafe thinking out of the box, proving that you should never underestimate the quality or capacity of thinking because age certainly does not create limitations. It was quite interesting that two young critics assessing the merits and faults of the same work of art, “Thaala” a 2019 Sri Lankan Sinhalese musical drama film directed by Palitha Perera, which was evaluated by taking two different stances. They were,“uniform trends in traditional teaching” and “Is “Thaala” successful in contemporary cinema? At first glance, one may notice that though these are two different takes on the same film, the difference is only divided by a very fine line. However the young critics managed to sieve through their ideas and emphasize this almost invisible difference by presenting two different collections of facts. Furthermore, the nymph “Peni komadu wala iranama” by Ruwan Bandujeewa, the songs “Amma sandaki..” by Malani Jayarathne, “Anduru kutiya thula by Premadasa Alawatte, “Deviyan mewu nihanda sebalun” by Mahanayaka Gurupadavi Ritigala Sumedha, “Ethi de ethi setiyen” by Wasantha Kumara Kobawaka, “gangata kapana ini” by Arawwala Nandimithra and “Three Fat Men” by Yury Olesha were among the other entries.these works provide us with insight on how children make humanity and timely events as there base in presenting their opinions.