Well, the Bard said it. And the whole world said it hence. But even as theatre continues to be an art form which is closest to reality, in the real as opposed to the abstract as in paintings, the stages that really make the audience come alive are on those whichenact themes that are close to the heart of the audience. Which is why in Goa, tiatr still thrives
“Tiatr is one of the most popular forms of theatre in Goa. I feel it is one form where people are able to easily relate to the stories since we pick on the issues and tales that are relevant to the society. The turnout for Tiatr is always good and I have seen a lot of progress in the overall theatre scenario. Whether we perform in Konkani or English, if the base content is local, the audience likes it better, says Tomazinho Cardozo, a dramatist, playwright, writer (in Konkani and English), educationist and politician from Goa.
Cardozo feels tha whenever they do English plays that are brought in from other parts of the world, the connect is less. Here people want to see stories that they can resonate with, the local Goan touch is imperative to people”,
Isabel Santa Rita Vaz who has been instrumental in the growth of English Theatre in Goa says, “I started 31 years ago and initially we adapted world scripts and performed, but then we realized the need of local flavour in the stories. We then, started writing our own scripts and chose the stories that are relevant to the society at large, but the characterization and story telling ways are local. Also we try and perform English plays in a very vernacular and local way by throwing bits of dialogues in Konkani and Marathi in order to offer a flavor that the local Goan audience easily relates to.”
When asked about the progress that the theatre scene has seen in 31 years of her handling the stage, she says, “The audience for theatre has always been selective and theatre has never been everyone’s cup of tea. Although the numbers of audience hasn’t grown exponentially, there has been some growth for sure. Also there has been a vast change in the way we promote theatre today, earlier a big chunk of our budget used to be spent on Newspaper Ads, but today all thanks to social and digital media that cost has been controlled. Channels like Facebook and WhatsApp have been working for us well. We still don’t make big bucks, but we are surely surviving well”, she concludes.
And one of the most emerging formsof theatre is the Experimental Theatre. The pre-liberation times did not see much boost as far as Konkani, Hindi and English theatre was concerned since the Goan audience was only glued to Marathi theatre. Post liberation and with attempts of various organizations, the theatre scene started to see a shift and people started accepting plays in other languages too.
This is when the actual experimental theatre took shape and one of the major contributors has been PundalikNaik. He literally experimented with lots of themes and genres and Goan folk songs were a very significant part of his theatrical works. In all, Naik has 32 plays, and collections of short stories, novels, novellas, translations and books of children’s rhyme to his credit. He is considered a pioneer in the realm of Konkani drama.
Going forward, The ‘Rangamel’ – Repertory Company of Kala Academy was established on 16th October 1992 to fulfill a long felt need of professional theatre in Goa. It provides professional theatrical experience and a platform to the passed out students of Kala Academy’s School of Drama as well as the theatre enthusiasts of the State of Goa. Rangmel has 42 plays to its credit and performs in 4 different languages i.e. Konkani, Marathi, Hindi and English. Kala Academy has been organizing state level drama competition from several years and it has helped greatly in the rise of experimental theatre in Goa.
“I feel that as a form ‘tiatr’ has been one of the biggest storytelling influences in Goa which allows adaptations. With more people moving here and the rapid influence of emerging theatre forms, globally, its only fair that there are more people emerging to tell stories by breaking older forms like tiatr and classic literature and folklore to find a new story to tell, to find a new lullaby to sing, to find a new person to be; all because Goa gives so much of light to allow inspiration, says Moumita Pal, the woman behind Mad Monk Maya Project who recently organized Vagina Monologues a very popular play for the first time in Goa with an overwhelming response.
Saish Dshpande, who is directing a play called Yatra, which is based on an adaptation of Athol Fugard’s ‘The Road to Mecca’ in the Goan context feels that, “Goa is the richest state when it comes to theatre. Over the years I have seen that there is a wide acceptance and love for theatre in Goa. In Goa Konkani, Marathi and Tiatr enjoy hundreds of shows around the year and probably no other state has so much to offer. The only difference is that people here like the local touch more and hence even when we adapt from other plays, we need to add the Goan flavor.”
‘Yatra’ is an exploration of artistic freedom, where the light of thoughts, ideologies and expression flow from all directions. It is about the revolt of a woman who has been a social outcast in her village. It is about her journey towards self-realization and freedom. And on the World Theatre Day, Abhivyaktee in association with Sunapranta- Goa Centre For The Arts is presenting this play.
Yes, Goa has embraced theatre like none other, but when it comes to world plays and English Theatre in the typical sense, Goa still has a long way to go. This World Theatre Day, we hope that Goa continues its love for theatre and may the audience be more receptive of different forms of drama and let the creativity flow in all its vigor. [H]