Sunday, February 15, 2009

Goa's Innovative, Creative Gift To India's Multicultural Ethos

Goa's Innovative, Creative Gift To India's Multicultural Ethos

TIATR to offer a simple definition, is the self censored, liberal and progressive, democratic and dynamic theatre of the fun loving Konkani speaking masses. It is a polychromatic kaleidoscopic celebration of the travails and triumphs of life - life as seen from an ordinary Goan's perspective. It is absolutely different from modern Marathi or Konkani theatre.Tiatr is Goa�s cultural, social and political window.
Tiatr is a non-violent medium of mass catharsis. The audience of Tiatr establishes a communion with the stage. The members laugh, cry, weep, sing-along, cheer, despair, celebrate, applaud, taunt, ridicule and at the end of the show seem excited but relaxed. Good tiatrs have become household cultural icons. Many artists who actually lead a simple private, non-glamorous life also achieve instant celebrity status.
Although it is not admitted sincerely - Tiatr is undoubtedly Goa's innovative and creative gift to the vast spectrum of India's mind boggling multicultural ethos.
Tiatr was Goa's rediscovery of forgotten Indo-European traditions. The residual folk elements of Tiatr are still traceable in jagor,lokam khel and intruz. The Italian opera was possibly born out of ancient Indian musical theatre (sangitikas). It bears a typical Indo-European cultural stamp. Goan artists in Bombay were inspired by the Italian opera. Originally they performed crude imitations. But later original scripts were written - many with progressive social themes. After many innovations and modifications the Goan tiatr achieved its� present identity, probably before the beginning of the Second World War.
Tiatr remained neglected till the newly established Goa Kala Akademy in 1974 decided to organise Tiatr competitions at the state level. These competitions caused an explosion of young talent. The beauty of this competition was its� simple organization and consistency. Today Konkani Tiatr has become a secular stage. What was originally seen as a theatre dominated by Roman Catholic artists has proved today as an accommodative form which welcomes any talented Konkani speaking artist irrespective of religion, caste, gender. The tiatrists have also moulded themselves as messengers of peace, social harmony, justice and upholders of secular spirit of India. Tiatrists, who present powerful social themes, have volunteered to act as conscience keepers of the society.
Let us contrast their undeclared mission with the self styled fascist moral police who have recently erupted in cities like Mangalore. As long as Tiatr is flourishing and thriving, the society would never tolerate the fascist virus of moral policing in Goa.
Modern Tiatr has undergone vast transformation in the past 30 years. More than 2000 shows of tiatr are performed every year. With an average audience of 700, it is estimated that more than a million people patronise tiatr. Globalisation and economic recession have not affected the popularity of tiatr because people relate to this form intimately. Tiatr fully deserves the status of cultural industry because it is a source of direct and indirect employment of more than ten thousand Goans who do not depend on any subsidy from the state government. Tiatr producers work with meager capital and are often stretched beyond their financial capacity to support a good production. Therefore by officially according the status of cultural industry to Goa's Tiatr, the government would be offering employment security to ten thousand Goans. This makes sound economic, cultural and political sense.
February 16 is a red-letter day in the post liberation cultural history of Goa. Consistent with the objectives of UNESCO and commitments made in the cultural policy of Goa, 2007, Chief Minister, Mr Digambar Kamat took concrete, positive and determined steps to establish the Tiatr Academy of Goa (TAG). TAG would be formally launched by the legendary tiatrist, Master Vaz (Jose Francisco Vaz), at the Ravindra Bhavan, Margao on February 16. All the efforts of the tiatrists to get state recognition which was denied to them for past 117 years have not been wasted. TAG would be an all-purpose vehicle to preserve, conserve and promote Tiatr and all the issues - economic, cultural, social, administrative associated with this theatre and the industry. Formation of TAG is a signal to the global cultural community that as promised in it�s cultural policy, the government of Goa is committed to usher in a cultural democracy.
There is also broad political support for TAG, which indicates that our politicians have also understood the power and potential of this theatre. The government may liberally support TAG in future but ultimately success of its� mission would depend on team spirit, team work and action plan of Goa's small community of tiatrists. They need to sink their differences, if any, work together and lay down a strong foundation of TAG. TAG need to also work closely with Konkani Akademy, Konkani Bhasha Mandal, Konkani Sahitya Parishad, Asmitai Pratisthan, Dalgado Akademy, TSKK and XCHR, Kala Academy, Goa University, institutions of Government of India, Goan organisations abroad and the institutions promoting indigenous theatres in Europe and Asia. TAG need to aim for the status of UNESCO accredited national Academy in future. That would promote international collaborations and exchange of research scholars.

The centenary (1910-2010) of recorded Konkani music begins from this year. This is a historic occasion because Konkani singers and musicians have enriched India�s musical traditions. Frank Fernand, Chris Perry, Alfred and Rita Rose, Micael Martins, Jacint Vaz, Anthony Gonsalves, Sebastian De souza, Dattaram, N Datta, Emiliano Da Cruz, Padmashree Remo Fernandes and the Mageshkars (Lata, Asha, Hridaynath) are a few illustrative legendary names. People would love to know more about India's most popular trumpeter, Antonio Xavier Vaz - fondly known as Chic Chocolate. Who can forget his music in 'Albela'? TAG needs to celebrate the centenary of recorded Konkani music. An international archives of Konkani songs and music albums need to be established. A global biobibliographic, musico and filmographic database of all Konkani artists needs to be created. TAG could also publish an annual directory of Tiatr artists and yearbook on the tiatr industry. Formation of TAG adds a feather in cap of CM Mr Digambar Kamat. He would be remembered as a politician who understood the importance of Tiatr as a powerful creative cultural form and extended a hand of patronage to take a significant step towards making Goa a vibrant and flourishing cultural democracy. Let there be an all round applause for success of TAG.

(Picture insert courtesy Rewon Gomes & KGTS}
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A big e-welcome to you. Tumcam Maie-mogacho ieukar. Enjoy Life - This is not a rehearsal! Konkani uloi, boroi, vach ani samball - sodankal. Hich Goenchi osmitai ani amchem khalxelponn. Goenchi amchi Konkani bhas! Ekvottachem saddon Goenkaranchem. This is Gaspar Almeida from Parra, Bardez, Goa, based in Kuwait and am connected with the website created by Ulysses Menezes, and as Moderator of the famous first of its kind Gulf-Goans e-Newsletter (since 1994) and The Goan Forum and several Goan and Indian associations and forums and e-forums in Goa, India, Kuwait, The Middle East and worldwide.