A Study of Digital Storytelling and Performance

How has the digital, as a site, tool, concept and a methodology, transformed digital storytelling, archiving, performance and spectatorship in contemporary Sri Lanka, and to what effect?

The application of digital technologies within performance contexts has become important as a major development in the field of Digital Humanities, as well as in terms of how collaboration is conceptualized and facilitated, and as a medium of distribution (Dixon, 2007, p. 3).

As a DHLab activity, the Study of Digital Storytelling and Performance will enable an evidence-based exploration of what happens when the digital meets the humanities. This will be achieved through an analysis of digital storytelling and performance, their impact on spectatorship, and their further use as a resource for creative interventions. The activity will draw on existing practices in the digital humanities such as online reading, and analysis of digital applications and production (audio tracks, still photos). The creative work produced by the DHLab will include a range of outputs including short animations, digital performances, photo and video essays, development of hashtags, collaborative writing, and the use of social media platforms for creative work.

References List

Dixon, S. (2007). Digital Performance: A History of New Media in Theatre, Dance, Performance Art, and Installation. Cambridge, MA and London: The MIT Press.

An Unidentified Edible Object (2019)

An Unidentified Edible Object (UEO) (2019), a digital performance installation by the students of the Department of English, in collaboration with the University of Colombo Drama Society (DRAMSoc), was presented at the Corpora, Archives and Performance Conference 2019. The performance installation was conceptualized by students of the Department of English and members of the DRAMSoc to explore performance and archiving through digital technologies.

 Visit The Making of an Unidentified Edible Objects to see archival material from the installation.

Mobile Short Film Project (2019 – 2022)

The Mobile Short Film Project is a component of the DHLab’s ongoing study of digital storytelling and performance, organized in collaboration with the University of Colombo Drama Society (DRAMSoc). It is a research-based and student-oriented exploration of storytelling and performance-making in, and through, digital spaces and modes. In particular, the Project is interested in novice filmmaking with smartphones as the primary filming technology. It explores navigating the various processes of filmmaking in the context of a global pandemic, and now an economic crisis, through the point of view of an undergraduate student.

From the applications submitted by interested students in the Faculty of Arts, the following four script-proposals were selected for filming. They are expected to release their short films in July, 2022.

Kaumadi JayaweeraDepartment of EnglishSilence
Haadiyah Marikkar and Lara WijesuriyaDepartment of English and Department of HistoryBugs
Ashan Sandaruwan de SilvaDepartment of International Relationsලොක් ඩවුන්
Kawshalya PriyadarshaniJournalism Unitඅරගලය

The student-filmmakers had the opportunity of closely working with renowned filmmaker Anomaa Rajakaruna who mentored each production until completion. In preparation for filming their productions, they have undergone training in several lab sessions on script-development, pre-production and post-production with her.

Anomaa Rajakaruna, Lead Resource Person of the Mobile Short Film Project, is an internationally acclaimed filmmaker and photographer. She has extensively documented the lives of marginalized groups, particularly the lives of women and children, with a focus on issues such as women in armed conflict, displacement, sexual harassment and violence against women.

She is the Festival Director of the Jaffna International Cinema Festival (since 2015), and the Agenda 14 Short Film Festival, which she founded in 2011. She also serves as the Artistic Director of the Colombo International Women’s Film Festival. Anomaa has curated the European Film Festival in Sri Lanka during the last decade and has served as a juror at many national and international film festivals. She was awarded the Officer de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Ministry of Culture, Republic of France in 2019 and the Chevalier de l’ordre national du merite, the National Honour of the Republic of France in 2012. She also holds the title of Kalasuri, National Honours awarded by the President of Sri Lanka in 2005.

Her latest documentary is Our Mother, Grandmother, Prime Minister; Sirimavo: Inside story of the first female Prime Minister of the world (2022).