‘My Name is Thileepan’ – A Tragic History Badly Told

By Ernest KearneyAhash Francis, a Tamil-Canadian has chosen a subject for his one-man show that is a fascinating and tragic figure from the history of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka.

Rasaiah Parthipan was a young revolutionary who fought in the doomed struggle for Tamil independence in Sri Lanka. He took the name “Thileepan,” which means “leader from Sri Lanka,” as his nom de guerre.

The story of Thileepan’s death and the struggle of the Tamil people is both stirring and epic. Unfortunately, Francis undercuts his tale by a clumsy narrative device of having the spirit of Thileepan take possession of his body.

The resultant difficulties in any attempt at a dialogue between the two would be a challenge to even the most skilled of actors. With Francis it simply becomes muddled and confusing.

Also, Francis’ continual intrusions of his story as a child of the Tamil diaspora into Thileepan’s history results in a further muddled outcome.

Francis does cut a fine figure on stage and has bookended his show with strong displays of Tamil traditional dancing.

For these, and for selecting such a unique subject matter –


Silver Medal (via The TVolution)

My Name Is Thileepan

Played During Hollywood Fringe Festival 2022


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An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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