Symbol opinion vote Comment: probably notable -- needs rewrite and check for additional sources DGG ( talk ) 02:30, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
Symbol opinion vote Comment: Facebook is not a reliable source. Needs references from independent and reliable sources -- Eclipsed (talk) (COI Declaration) 11:29, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

Dr. Salaman Fonseka (17th June 1940 - 20th July 2000) was a Sri lankan teacher of drama (Method Acting), actor, dramatist, pantomime artist, playwright, television programme producer, puppeteer and an artist.

Early Life

Gampolage Salaman Fonseka was born on the 17th of June, 1940, at Bilingahakotuwa, a little known village in the [[Kagalle District of Sri Lanka (Ceylon).

He lost his mother, Silindi Denawaka in infancy and was looked after lovingly by his father, Gampalage Romanis Fonseka, a carpenter by profession, who was also a temple mural artist of repute.

At the tender age of six, his happy childhood ended, when his adored father died, leaving him in the care of a relative. Soon after, he was admitted to Kagalle Central College where it became apparent that this remarkable child would one day reach great heights because of his exceptional talent in every aspect of Aesthetics. His Art Master, Mr. Jayasekara, took him under his wing and nurtured his skills in painting, while his Geography Master, Mr. Dayananda Gunawardena (who later became a renowned Dramatist) guided him in all aspects of Drama.

Very early in life, little Salaman lost his much loved foster father but he was fortunate in that the kind folks at the Amarakoon Walauwa, Pitihuma, Kagalle, decided to accept him as their own, and so the little boy with a big heart found warmth and comfort within that large and close-knit family circle. Everybody loved Salaman, especially his foster mother, the devoted Dankore Amma who always made him feel special.

Indeed there was something very special and noble about Salaman which drew people instinctively towards him, especially little children, the idealistic youth and the compassionate elderly who recognized his true worth as a human being who genuinely cared and went the extra mile.

The wonderful people who gave him help and support throughout his entire life are far too numerous to mention, but it is of great importance to state here, that Salaman, in gratitude, concidered them all to be shareholders of his academic and domestic successes. (especially his mentors, the Ven.Mapalagama Vipulasara Thero, the Hon. Chandra Gunasekara, MP. Mr. Piyasena Goonethilleke, Mr. Waidyasekara, Mr. D.B. Kuruppu and Mr. Upul Wanasinghe.)

Apart from his achievements in the artistic field, Salaman went on to sports and cadetting. He was a member of the district football team which won the coveted Sabaragamuwa Shield, and as a disciplined member of the cadets, he made his mark in Rifle Shooting, winning many awards.

The Actor

While still at college, his drama Master, Mr. Dayananda Gunawardena, cast him in the main role as "The Fox" in his famous play, "Nari Bena" meaning fox son-in-law (an adaptation of a popular folk tale). And, as a result of Salaman's amazingly sensitive and creative portrayal of "The Fox", this enchanting play created history by its record-breaking run to full-houses across the length and breadth of Sri Lanka, and his name became a household one.

After the success of Nari bena Salaman Fonseka was cast as the lovable Sindu, the little boy, in Henry Jayasena's play, "Thawath Udesanak" in 1964. Salaman Fonseka, the original "Nari bena" whould have been at least twenty four. But make-up, his diminutive size, and his child like face easily made him look a twelve year old boy. His performance was fantastic and won rounds and rounds of applause wherever the play was performed.

By this time, since his fame as an artiste had spread island wide, the Ceylon-Czechoslovakia Friendship Society selected him as the popular choice for a scholarship to study Theater and Drama. This was in 1967.

With that opportunity, young Salaman began his steady climb up to the pinnacle of world Theater. He was enrolled at the prestigious Academy of Arts, Dramatic Faculty, Prague, Czech Republic and began his studies in earnest. He overcame his first hurdle by mastering the Czech Language with his characteristic tenacity and will to succeed. Because of his brilliance in his chosen field in general and his humaneness in particular, he was the popular choice as President of the Foreign Students Society for five consecutive (1968 - 1973) years.

In 1973, at the end of six years of intensive studies, Salaman created history yet again by becoming the first ever foreign student to win the Red Ribbon Diploma for his M.A degree (Master of Arts) in Stage Directing.

The Government of Czechoslovakia, realizing the amazing potential of this sensitive foreign artiste, offered him a scholarship to study for his Ph.D. degree at the Charles University , Faculty of Philosophy, Prague, Czechoslovakia, and, in 1975, the trust placed by the Government in his inherent abilities was more than justified when he earned the title Doctor of Philosophy in Dramatic Art and Science, with Excellence. The title of his thesis is "Sinhalese Folk Theater and ways how to apply European Techniques." The subjects he mastered were History of Arts, Philosophy and Dramatic Science and History.

The Teacher

Although thoroughly disillusioned, Dr. Salaman Fonseka did not abandon his hopes of achieving his goal. With the help of his friends, he set up a Drama class and began to teach. But his classes had to be shifted periodically from pillar to post for the lack of a permanent building. In spite of this and other obstacles, he carried on steadfastly, teaching and guiding his many students from all over Sri Lanka. With the utmost zeal and dedication, he introduced Method Acting pioneered by the world-renowned Russian Dramatist, Constantin Stanislavsky to the Sri Lankan theater and helped to inaugurate professional dramatic culture which has spread around the country today.

His Work

"Ahimi Jeewitha" a play produced and directed by Dr. Salaman Fonseka was an adaptation of the novel "Of Mice and Men" a novel written by Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck. The first production was staged in 1981 and a second production in 1998. The play tells the tragic story of George and Lennie, two displaced migrant ranch workers. It is through this play, that Dr. Salaman Fonseka introduced Method Acting pioneered by the world-renowned Russian Dramatist, Constantin Stanislavsky to the Sri Lankan theater.

"Sakvithi Nikmana" based on the play "Romulus the Great" by Friedrich Durrenmatt was translated, produced and directed by Dr. Salaman Fonseka. Friedrich Durrenmatt born in 1921 - Swiss Dramatist who has made his name in the post-war German speaking theater. Romulus the Great is considered to be his best drama.

Training and Scholarships

  • 1961 - 1965 Diploma in Art and Sculpture at Haywood College of Fine Arts
  • 1965 - 1973 Master of Arts Prague Academy of Arts Dramatic Faculty
  • Training on Children's Drama under Vladimir Adamek
  • Two year training on Children's theater at the Volksbühne theatre in Berlin, Germany
  • Training on the art of Pantomime under Ladislav Fialka
  • 1973 - 1976 Charles University, Prague. Faculty of Philosophy - Doctor of Philosophy

Institutions served

  • 1976 External lecturer at the University of Colombo
  • 1976 Lecturer of drama at "Prathibha" school of Drama and Music
  • 1981 - 2000 Training drama at "Rasara Ranga" school of Drama.
  • 1982 - 1990 Executive Director of children's unit at Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation
  • 1990 - 2000 Executive Director of the sets department at Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation


  • 1959 Prassaya – Podi gamarala
  • 1961 NariBena – Fox
  • 1963 Bakmaha Akunu
  • 1964 Thawath Udesanak - Sindu
  • 1964 Kuweni
  • 1965 Ibikatta
  • 1973 Pantomime performances at the Club theater in Prague
  • 1981 Ahimi Jeevitha - Lennie
  • 1988 Sakvithi Nikmana - King Romulus

Documentary Films

  • 1968 A long day within a short time
  • 1969 Mount Trainer
  • 1969 Discussion

Local Films

  • 1985 Suddilage Kathawa - Peter
  • 1989 Sirimedura - Watcher
  • 2000 Rajya Sevaya Pinisai - Chief Minister


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