John de Silva

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John de Silva (13 January 1857 – 28 January 1922) was a Sri Lankan playwright.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Early life[edit]

De Silva was born on 13 January 1857 in Kotte. He worked as a teacher and a lawyer before entering theater. His first drama Parabhava Natakaya was a satire on the upper class.[2][3][4]


De Silva was influenced by the work of C. Don Bastian (1852-1921), the creator of the ‘Nurthi’, who was also the editor of the first daily Sinhala news paper.[4][3][5] De Silva wrote and produced several historical and religious plays drawing from nurti and nadagam traditions. These include Siri Sangabo (1903), Sri Vickrama Rajasingha (1906), Devanampiya Tissa (1914), Vihara Maha Devi (1916) and Dutugemunu. He also scripted Ramayana, Sakuntala, Vessanatara, Uttara Ramacharitaya, Ratnavali and Nagananda.[2][3][4]

De Silva staged his early plays at the Public Hall (later the site of Empire Cinema) with the Sinhala Arya Subodha Natya society. He later formed the Vijaya Ranga society and staged his plays at the Gintupitiya Theatre. de Silva died on 28 January 1922.[2]


In an acknowledgment of de Silva's contributions, the Sri Lankan government constructed the John de Silva Memorial Theatre at Ananda Cumaraswamy Mawatha in Colombo.[6] A commemorative stamp was also issued on January 31, 1987.[2]


  1. ^ World Music: The Rough Guide, Vol. 2- Latin and North America, Caribbean, India, Asia & Pacific By Simon Broughton, Mark Ellingham, p.231 (Rough Guides) ISBN 9781858286365
  2. ^ a b c d "The big name in Sinhala theatre". Sunday Times. 2007. Retrieved 18 July 2007.
  3. ^ a b c The World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre: Volume 5: Asia/Pacific edited by Katherine Brisbane, Ravi Chaturvedi, Ramendu Majumdar, Chua Soo Pong, Minoru Tanokura, p.525
  4. ^ a b c Language, Religion, and Ethnic Assertiveness: The Growth of Sinhalese ... By Kē. En. Ō Dharmadāsa, pp.127-9,132,137,185,324
  5. ^ The Impact of Japanese Traditional Theatre on Ediriweera Sarachchandra’s Drama, Kulatilaka KUMARASINGHE (University of Kelaniya) Retrieved 01-10-2015
  6. ^ Kalabavana only for the visual arts, Rear Admiral Rohan Amarasinghe (Sunday Observer) Retriever 01-10-2015