VETERAN DRAMATIST ACTOR AND AUTHOR HENRY JAYASENA DIES
Posted on November 11th, 2009

By Walter Jayawardhana

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Henry Jayasena,(78) the veteran dramatist, film actor and author died at Colombo South General Hospital at Kalubowila after a brief illness, his friends announced.

He was married to Manel, a talented actress, who performed the main role of his celebrated stage play Kuweni and predeceased him.

According to his autobiography written in Sinhala Henry, knew his acting talents from his childhood ever since he was told by the late Dr. Gunapala Malalasekera that he would one day have a great career as an actor , after the famous educator saw little Henry performing in a school concert at Nalanda College.

But the dramatist in Henry Jayasena achieved his initial ambition when he produced the drama, Janaki when he was an English assistant teacher at Dehipe government school at Padiyapelella in the remote Nuwara Eliya District using both students and teachers of the school, and also using local musical talents in the area the school was located.

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The Daily News in an obituary published said, “A household name in Sri Lanka, Henry Jayasena created a revolution in the field of creative arts with his pioneering efforts in local drama. His productions Hunuwataye Kathawa an adaptation of Bertol Bretch’s Caucasian circle, and works such as Apata Puthe Magak Nethe, Kuweni etc., took the local drama scene by storm in the mid sixties.”

Henry who was born at Bendiyamulla Gampaha grew up without the love of his mother, as she had died.

Henry Jayasena’s plays , while he was working as a clerical hand at the government Public Works Department gave new hope for the Sinhala drama. Some of the translations like Hunuwataye kathawa or original waorks like Manaranjana Wedawarjana quenched the the thirst of theatre goers of Colombo in the 1960’s. Janelaya(1962)Thavath Udesanak (1964),Manaranjana Wedawarjana (1965)Ahas maliga (1966) Hunuwataye Kathawa (1967)Apata Puthe Magak nethe (1968)Diriya Mawa (1972) Makara (1973)Sarana Siyoth se Puthuni Hambayana (1975) are some of the plays he wrote and produced.

His cinematic performance as the main actor in the award winning Gamperaliya as Piyal (1964) and the performance as Azdak in the stage play Hunuwataye Kathawa (1967)and as Lalith in the film Dahasak Sithuwili (1968) made lasting impressions.

He also acted the main roles in Hansavilak,Gehenu Geta,Kaliyugaya and Raththaran neth.

Sri 296, Vena Swargayak kumatada,Suhada Sohoyuro, Heta Pramada Vedi, Beddegama, Sodadu Unnehe are some other works where he performed as a supporting actor.

The government is expected to give him a state funeral , the details of which are expected to be announced today.

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