The finer nuances of Theatre
Theatre is a reflection of the ludicrous, insane and incongruous elements of our lives. It is a medium of expressive communication that is cathartic and gives a clearer vision of misty life.
Theatre in earlier times was a huge money spinner, but with the advent of other sources of mass communication, the loyalties of the audience for this medium steered away. In the West, theatre is still very popular. The scene in other places though is a bit different. However, especially formed repertory groups have managed to infuse life into this endearing genre.
Goa too has been a very receptive ground for theatre in terms of both, production as well as audience. The theatre performed in Goa can be categorised as contemporary theatre and traditional theatre. Traditional theatre implies the indigenous theatre in existence in Goa for centuries. The three most predominant of them are the ‘Zagor’, ‘Ranamalem’, and ‘Kalo’. There are three types of ‘Zagor’ says Vinayak Khedekar, “They are the ‘Perni zagor’, the ‘zagor’ performed by the Hindu Gaudas and the ‘zagor’ that is performed by the Christians.” He continues, “The Ranamalem is performed by the Kulvadi community who mostly reside in the Sattari taluka.”
These forms of theatre which are generally performed in villages are on the wane and are in need of sustained support. “Lifestyles have changed and this is reflected in theatre too. But these forms are practiced by Goans in a rich way,” says Khedekar.
Help in the form of various folk theatre festivals are constantly organised and promoted by the Department Art and Culture, Goa. They also take initiatives to take performing theatre troupes from Goa to different parts of India to perform.
Institutions like the Kala Academy (KA) too lend a hand to encouraging a culture of such performing arts in the form of holding theatre competitions. The KA itself has its own resident repertory named Rangmale which train those interested in theatre and also provides them with an opportunity to perform at various places in Goa and outside the state as well.
Perhaps the most popular form of theatre in Goa is the Khell tiatr and tiatr. The President of Tiatr Academy of Goa, Mr Tomazinho Cardozo and founder of a Kala Mogi, calls it the most economically viable form of theatre in Goa too.
Tiatr is self-sustaining and one can take it up as a daily job, adds Mr Cardozo.
A tiatr lover points out that with tiatr troupes going to perform in places outside Goa and India and the incidences of repeat shows increasing, tiatr has a bright future. “One thing that is amiss is that once a tiatr is performed many times, it’s replaced with anther one. The super hits are never restaged later and hence tiatrists miss out on the chance of earning royalties.”
“The standard of theatre in Goa though needs to improve. It has already seen improvement but a lot more has to be done,” states Mr Cardozo.
The Konkani nataks that are usually held at zatras (fairs held to celebrate a temple festival) and on other occasions too are crowd pullers agrees Avadhoot Sahakari, a theatre artiste. Plenty of nataks are staged at regular intervals.
Religious occasions have encouraged the growth of theatre in Goa. The khell tiatrs, tiatrs, passion plays staged during lent, Konkani nataks staged during zatras etc are fine examples of how the love for theatre has been ingrained by religious activities.
Marathi dramas too get an audience but the numbers are much lesser. Despite there being quite a few Marathi drama productions, the audience generally show a bias and prefer watching dramas produced in Maharashtra. Says Avadhoot, “There is a difference between Marathi plays brought from outside Goa and those that are locally produced.” Pointing out to the proficiency in the language, Avadhoot says the local actors may be able to speak fluent Marathi but often end up faltering with the finer nuances of the language.
English theatre has seen a fair amount of development fairly recently but the numbers of English play production are still few in number.
Rudy Camara, who has over the past years been bringing in English drama troupes from outside Goa says it does not make economic sense bringing theatre from places like the metros to Goa. “Bringing a foreign play to Goa in a way does to an extent offset the costs as these plays travel all over India. English plays have a limited audience in Goa, but the market is growing,” he says.
Musicals have managed to elicit a sizeable audience in Goa. Says Camara, “nine out of ten per cent of the musicals brought to Goa are huge successes.
Camara points out to a trait that he calls as unfortunate present in the Goan audience. Referring to the English theatre scene he says, “Goans prefer plays from outside Goa. They are not appreciative of home productions as Goa is a small place and everyone knows everyone here.”
Theatre in Goa on the whole is full of potential and opportunity but the need to create a brand name for it so that it can become viable needs to be looked into. To achieve it, a lot of time and energy will have to be invested, but the efforts will definitely be worth it once achieved.