Janakaraliya is a theatre group which performs all over Sri Lanka promoting grassroots-level peace and reconciliation between communities divided along ethnic, social, and religious lines.
Janakaraliya recruits multi-ethnic young people from all parts of the country, and trains them according to both Tamil and Sinhala drama traditions as bilingual actors. Janakaraliya uses applied theatre as their methodology and promotes their values and ideals of inter-ethnic co-existence through their performances in different villages.
Through their plays, the bilingualism of the cast and performances, and the exchange of traditional cultural features between Tamil-Koottu and Sinhala theatre traditions, Janakaraliya hopes to promote peace, reconciliation and inter-ethnic harmony.
Janakaraliya see art as a powerful method for peacebuilding, as it can go where other methods of peacebuilding, such as workshops and conferences, cannot, due to its inclusiveness and because of the appreciation all kinds of people have for art. Therefore the Janakaraliya team has been able to safely perform in all parts of the island during and after the war. They have performed in very tense situations in Vanni, when the antagonism between the government and the LTTE has been at its peak. They received protection from the villagers and when they performed in Jaffna, they received escorts from the LTTE to safely see them through the area under their control. Similarly, they have received support and praise from the government military.
They see their primary achievement is being fully accepted by all parties involved in the ethnic conflict of Sri Lanka. This is a very rare achievement that only a handful of organisations in the country managed to achieve.
A factor leading to this success is Janakaraliya's ability to provide a common performance space for all the ethnic groups of the country, devoid of language and cultural barriers. Through their special ways of forming our team and shaping of performances, the group creates a performance space that is comfortable for all ethnicities to gather together and jointly experience.
Janakaraliya produced a Tamil version of Bertolt Brecht's drama "The Caucasian Chalk Circle" in 2016. This is a result of a series of theatre workshops and trainings conducted by the Janakaraliya team in the Nothern province. Mr. M. Shanmugalingam translated the script into Tamil. With this new production, Janakaraliya conducts a performace tour in the Jaffna peninsula from 7-14 September 2016. The team holds theatre workshops, dicussions and performances in thier mobile theatre.