Sunday, May 16, 2010

New lease of life for English theatre in Goa

New lease of life for English theatre in Goa

PANAJI: English theatre in Goa, in an almost comatose state, could be resuscitated this March with the staging of "Fires of darkness", a play written and directed by nuclear chemist Savio Sequeira.

Nairobi born, Dublin-based Sequeira of Goan ancestry is a nuclear chemist, now retired from the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland, whose first love is films and music. "Nuclear chemistry paid the bills and gave me a job. Acting and directing does not always pay well," says Sequeira rather simply.

Nuclear chemistry and theatre direction are two diametrically opposite pursuits, but Sequeira's juggling of the two passions has brought him recognition in both. In Goa for a holiday, he penned "Fires of darkness", a play scheduled to be staged on March 3 and 4 at Panaji's Kala Academy.

Sequeira is not willing to part with details of the plot. All he says is that the play is a psychological thriller that has four characters who get "involved in a dark and murky scenario that affects their lives".

A frequent visitor to Goa, when he landed in the state in November, "Fires of darkness" did not form part of his holiday script. He actually began rehearsals for Neil Simon's "Star spangled girl", that to give it a desi twist was to be called the "Star spangled chokri". A little into the rehearsals he found that the actors just weren't prepared to enact the passionate kissing scene that is so crucial to the play and he had to drop the idea.

"That night I remained awake thinking and came up with the idea for this play," says Sequeira. It was already December when he wrote the play. Since then he has got Kala Academy involved and rehearsals for "Fires of darkness" are now chugging along "fantastically", as Sequeira says.

Says Kala Academy member secretary P R Phaldesai, "Sequeira worked with KA students in the past and directed a Hindi drama. It went well, people liked it, our students' involvement also was very good. He came forward with this proposal and we accepted it."

The Hindi play Sequeira directed two years back was called "Ek sapne ki maut", a Hindi version of Arthur Miller's "Death of a salesman". "Being from the colonial era, I speak only English, but I know 'Death of a salesman' so well that directing it in Hindi was not a difficult task," says Sequeira. That play too was staged in collaboration with Kala Academy.

Back in Ireland, Sequeira's science background and love for art led him to name his theatre group the "Da Vinci Theatre Company", after Leonardo da Vinci who was a scientist, artist, inventor. "We believe the time is ripe for the Renaissance man to return. I believe people are multifaceted and that society should encourage them," says Sequeira. In Dublin, Sequeira has directed quite a few Shakespeare plays including "Julius Ceasar", "The merchant of Venice", "Antony and Cleopatra", "As you like it", among others. Adhering to the script as written by Shakespeare, Sequeira gave the plays a modern setting. "Julius Ceasar" was set in an Iraq war-like situation, "Merchant of Venice" in Mussolini's Italy, and "As you like it" in the hippie era.

"I don't think Shakespeare would object to it. It is what makes him universal and timeless. The youth who have been taught Shakespeare in a mundane manner relate to his plays in these settings better," says Sequeira.

Sequeira has also directed a few films, including "Chains" that was commissioned by Gambia Television for the 1997 Roots Homecoming Festival. If "Fires of darkness" lights up the darkened English stage in Goa it will have succeeded in bringing English theatre a new lease of life.

"There is no English theatre in Goa. If somebody comes forward with such an idea, Kala Academy has to support it. This can continue in future also and it will give a new dimension to our theatre activity," says Phaldesai.

A ray of hope for Goan theatre aficionados.

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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.