Thursday, April 28, 2011

“Via Dolorosa” – A Great Effort

“Via Dolorosa” – A Great Effort

By Tomazinho Cardozo

The mega Passion play – Via Dolorosa – produced, directed and performed by the parishioners of Santa Cruz was indeed a satisfying experience and people enjoyed every bit of the 3-hour presentation.
The organisers need to be congratulated for their courage and the massive efforts put in to stage this mega show.

Being a passion play, Via Dolorosa effectively depicted the life of Jesus Christ. It also displayed the sorrowful experience of Mother Mary who chose to become a part of the agony of Jesus throughout his journey. The scenes of resurrection and the coronation of Mother Mary were beautifully presented. The play successfully conveyed the message of Jesus to humanity.

Modern drama does owe a lot to the activities of the Church throughout the world. In the past, mostly in Western countries, in Easter services bits of chanted dialogues were interpolated into the liturgy. Priests, impersonating biblical figures, acted minuscule scenes from incidents of the life of Jesus. Eventually these grew more elaborate and shifted from the inside of the church to the church steps and to the open spaces near the churches. Not only priests but laymen also started participating. Glorification of God and redemption of humanity remained the main concerns of these plays. These plays, which subsequently came to be called Passion plays, became regular feature in all churches during the Lent season. The presentation of these plays laid stress on rich costumes, décor and special effects. This history is being repeated in the Santa Cruz church, Santa Cruz, Goa.

The parishioners of Santa Cruz ventured into such mega productions way back in 2001 when they staged their first Passion play "Ecce Homo". The experience gained in the first play encouraged them to stage their second play "Soddvonnar Melo" in 2004. The play was well presented and won the hearts of the people. And now, after a gap of six years, they have produced yet another brilliant mega drama "Via Dolorosa" that leaves a lasting impression on the minds of the people.

The event is truly a mega event because it featured around 120 artistes from the parish besides another 50 to 60 artistes who contributed to music, singing, choreography, script, direction, stage setting, light effects, background music, costumes, etc. The show was presented on a huge stage, the length of which was about 50 meters and width about 10 meters, sprawled magnificently along the length of the edifice of the church. The mega stage covering about 500 square meters depicted five to six different stage sets on which different incidents in the life of Jesus Christ were presented. A huge screen placed nearby enhanced minute details like stage movements, facial expressions and reactions. The songs were sung by a group of 15 singers under the direction of music composer Fr Bernardo Cotta. Moreover the recorded background music by Saish Deshpande and the light effects by Assis made the presentation more meaningful. The costumes too were appropriate.

The hundred-odd artistes were all from the parish of Santa Cruz. The local MLA Ms Victoria Fernandes also participated. Most of the artistes were first timers. One has to evaluate the performance of the play after considering all these factors. Although there is always room for improvement, the performance was praiseworthy for which the joint directors namely Peter Barbosa, Dynisia Dias Juliao and Fr John Fernandes deserve a pat on their backs.

In the good old days, I remember, the late Souzalino, a pioneer of Passion plays in Konkani, used to stage one tiatr every year on the life of Jesus Christ. The drama was staged in the towns of Mapusa, Panaji and Margao, because it was not possible to stage these plays in the villages due to complex stage arrangements. People used to comment, "Souzalino’s tiatr is just like a cinema." This was because the late Souzalino used to make appropriate use of stage sets, background music, light effects and costumes besides experienced commercial artistes while staging biblical presentations.

In the present times, dozens of Passion plays are staged every year during Lent season by well known artistes of Konkani stage, including priests. Although today we have all the technological development at our disposal the standard of these plays cannot be compared to the standard of late Souzalino’s plays. Nevertheless "Via Dolorosa" presented by the parishioners of Santa Cruz displays the passion, spirit and dedication of late Souzalino and that too on a mega scale.

The parishioners of Santa Cruz and their local parish priest deserve appreciation for their interest, dedication and sacrificing attitude. Being a person from the field of drama I feel happy because there was appropriate use of stage sets, light effects, costumes, background music, which is missing in our tiatr presentations. "Via Dolorosa" no doubt immensely contributes in raising the standard of Konkani stage. Such presentation, we must not forget, become a part of our cultural history.

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