Monday, March 2, 2009

Goan tiatr : Celebration time?

The 16th of February was a red letter day for most Goans who thronged in large numbers at the Joao Agostinho FernanGoa tiatrdes auditorium , Ravindra Bhavan Margao, to witness the official inauguration of the Tiatr Academy of Goa (TAG). And the Chief Minister Mr Digambar kamat did not disappoint. As promised he delivered and made this long standing demand of tiatr lovers from Goa a distinct reality. Full credit to his ethics which are very rare in today's politicians.

Over the years the tiatr has stood the test of time to remain afloat above all political considerations without any support from the government. In its 117 years of existence the tiatr has not only survived but grown exponentially without any government patronage either after liberation or before it. The only yearly tiatr festival has been organised faithfully every year at the Kala Academy since the year 1974. Such resistance of the Tiatr against the travails of time has been its strength which has been derived by the love of Goans for this konkani theatre form due to which the tiatr grew from strength to strength.

The tiatr is considered to be a lively piece of  entertainment in Goa since a long time. It is neither full of prose nor is it a musical. It is a blend of both and that's what probably makes it very appealing to audiences.

The tiatr has been known to be consisting of a full story which may be in atleast seven or eight different sections. Each section is known as the "porddo" ( curtain) in which besides the dialogues in prose, some dialogues may be delivered in the form of a mini song which is known as "canth".

While the entire tiatr may have many such "canths", in between the sections or "pordde" there are atleast two to three separate full songs known as "Cantar" ( actually derived from the portuguese word for song itself). These " Cantars" or "Cantaram" are often composed on themes which may or may not have anything to do with the main story of the ongoing tiatr and are often composed on different themes ranging from social, political or religious leanings.Therefore the "Cantaram" in a tiatr serve to deliver a message which is different from the story of the tiatr and such cantaram may be around ten to fifteen in number in the whole tiatr.

Besides the main plot of the tiatr, there is another unmistakable element which often tends to draw the crowds to the tiatr on its own merit. That element is the comedy section of the tiatr. The comedy is often related to the main story of the tiatr or it may also be irrelevant to the entire theme just like the "cantar". However the comedy element helps in entertaining the crowds to the hilt and is often responsible for the successful run of the tiatr.

The tiatrists or the actors are often gifted with the talent of spontaneity and this adds to the life of the tiatr. Melodramatic scenes also form an essential part. All these facets, make the tiatr a unique art form compared to other dramatic theatrical forms in the state of Goa and outside it.

The survival of the tiatr has been largely due to the strong bond that Goans have with the tiatr and have faithfully patronised it over the last century with thousands of shows per year and each tiatr is staged hundreds of times very often to house-full audiences. Places like Mumbai, the Gulf, UK, and even Canada and Australia where Goans have settled over time have seen the tiatr being staged regularly every year.

The tiatr has also been the unmistakable entertainer at village fests all over Goa both before liberation and after it till today. No feast is complete in its entertainment without the staging of a tiatr on the night of the feast with the village folks and the guests in the village all flocking for a piece of the traditional action.

However the tiatr now needs an overhauling. A renovation. Its standard needs improvement and various facets of its performance chain has to be analysed and developed in search of excellence. Good direction, innovative scripts and improvised acting skills need to be inculcated, with an infusion of good original music with suitable lyrics. Hence a professional attitude needs to be absorbed for such changes which are needed badly in the tiatr to increase its following.Attention to good modern stage setups , technological additions in background music, good light effects etc are needed for the tiatr to make an all round impact.

The tiatr also has to be part of a marketing campaign and merchandise can also be produced to add to the campaign while tiatrs and its songs need to be documented in books and CD's . Songs need to have a better avenue of being marketed as separate identities thus giving its composers a new platform to grow.this would encourage more talent to blossom as well.

It is also time for the Goan tiatr to showcase Goa and make its presence felt on the national scene of the country while being the ambassador for the Goan art form. till now Goa is known for sun, sea sand and Feni besides soccer. Tiatr could pleasantly add itself to that list. The Goan tiatr must therefore strive to achieve a status nationally. Presently the tiatr in Goa does not have any critical assessment. In the absence of critical assessment no art form can grow . Same goes with the tiatr. In pursuit of excellence tiatr must evolve with the complete infrastructure for its growth and that's where the Tiatr academy can play a constructive role.

The tiatr Academy of Goa was therefore a much wanted blessing and the tiatrists along with tiatr patronisers of Goa and all its lovers all around the world should contribute to the TAG in whatever way they can to help the evolution to prosper.

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