The Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre is a performing arts centre at 110 Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha in Colombo, which was opened in December 2011. Its architecture was inspired by the 12th century Nelum Pokuna (lotus pond) in Polonnaruwa. Built by King Parakramabahu the Great, Polonnaruwa’s Nelum Pokuna is shaped as a stylised eight-petalled lotus flower. The idea was to provide an ideal place, in the heart of the city, for talented artists to exhibit their abilities and build a rapport with other performers on a local and international scale.
The Nelum Pokuna is for large scale productions and has two main venues; the main auditorium and the amphitheatre. The rooftop of Nelum Pokuna has an open-air theatre in proper Greek fashion. This is a modern example, the latest in Sri Lanka’s history of theatrical productions, which dates back over 2500 years. Centuries ago, theatrical arts were patronised by those of royal lineage and good artistes were generously rewarded.
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