The Lionel Wendt Theatre was declared open in 1953 with a performance of Maxim Gorky's Lower Depths directed by Neumann Jubal starring a stellar cast of Sri Lankan actors, including Irangani Serasinghe, Winston Serasinghe, Lucian de Zoysa, Sali Parakrama, Miriam de Sarem and Arthur van Langenberg, as well as a few expatriates. It was the first auditorium designed, purpose built and equipped for staging plays with high-quality sound and lighting systems. A proscenium theatre, it has a stage of nine hundred and sixty square feet with a trap door and orchestra pit, and flexible battens for lighting as well as tiered seating in the hall, and the necessary backstage facilities. The Lionel Wendt Theatre has in its long history been a platform for over 2000 productions of drama, music, song, and dance. The preferred venue of most of Sri Lanka's performers, the theatre which was the bastion of English drama broke new ground in 1956 with Professor Ediriweera Sarachchandra's Maname and in 1961 with Chitrasena's Karadiya. "The Wendt" soon became the most widely-used venue for theatrical performances in both Sinhala and English with the occasional production of a play in Tamil. It has also been "the in-place" for the staging of musicals, dramas, dance recitals, classical music concerts with many ground-breaking performances making their debut in the theatre. Indeed, the centre has fulfilled every aspect of its dedication as a venue for the practice and performance of all the arts.

"At the core of Lionel Wendt Memorial Centre is the stage which has been the theatre of many triumphs. A great number of players have taken their bows before numerous audiences here. It has bridged vast chasms, the greatest of which was the void that existed between the English language theatre and the Sinhala stage."

Neville Weereratne, Applause at the Wendt, LWMF, p. xiii

"The Lionel Wendt Theatre has achieved what few other theatres have in that with 700 seats it has the intimacy of a much smaller house. It is an actor's theatre, one that actor's love to perform in.The staff is excellent and the dressing rooms second to none and splendid acoustics. It deserves an A-plus rating for excellence."

John Maxwell, Applause at the Wendt, LWMF, p. vii

Layout Plans


General Theatre Lighting

D&B Sound System

Fly Bars

Dressing Rooms

Box Office

Image Gallery