09 Jul 2024  |   04:52am IST

A renewed hope for tiatr in Vasco?

After it’s closure for almost 4 years, Ravindra Bhavan in Vasco was re-opened for entertainment purposes. Pascoal de Chicalim, who had the opportunity of staging his tiatr ‘Goenkaranchim Dukham’ in the renovated auditorium, highlights the plight of the auditorium
A renewed hope for tiatr in Vasco?

Pio Esteves

Apart from the churches, temples and mosques catering to spiritual needs of the Goan communities, Goa is also a State of varied art and culture. Auditoriums in the cities cater to the entertainment needs of the artistes and the audience at large.

In order to flourish the growing rich art and culture in the state, Kala Academy was already in existence and operational in the capital city. But to promote art, culture in other areas as well, the state government took up the initiative of building auditoriums at Sanvordem, Margao and Vasco. The well-equipped auditoriums with state-of-the-art facilities were thrown open for various cultural and entertainment programmes held throughout the year. Those theatres served as a platform to tap local talent as well and were a big boost to the artistes across the state. But after the auditoriums were thrown open for various cultural activities with administrative staff at the helm and employees serving round the clock in various capacities, maintenance of the auditoriums took a backseat.

On account of poor upkeep and no timely repairs of the existent worn-out materials in the auditoriums, some of the theatres were forced to close down under the pretext of ‘maintenance works’. And the closure continued indefinitely, depriving artistes from showcasing their talents on stage via cultural and entertainment programmes and the audience too were left high and dry without any amusement of any kind. After ages, Kala Academy, the only auditorium in the capital city, was shut down for ‘repair and maintenance works’. And after a long closure, when it was re-inaugurated and thrown open after crores being spent on various works, the not up-to-the-mark mechanisms came to light. Likewise, Ravindra Bhavan in Vasco, the only auditorium in the port city, was closed down due to faulty air-conditioning. After its closure for almost 4 years, it was re-opened for entertainment purposes. 

Dwelling upon the details about the closure and re-opening of Ravindra Bhavan in Vasco, Pascoal de Chicalim informs that the auditorium was closed unceremoniously as the A/C plant had corroded. “The auditorium is in close proximity to the sea (Baina beach), which is salty,” he explains, “and hence the Vasco people were deprived of tiatrs for almost four years. But now, with its re-opening for the public, it is a good sign for the entertainment industry.”

“It is disheartening to note that the Art and Culture Department and the government administration took so much time to sanction a new A/C plant and install it immediately,” Pascoal de Chicalim continues. “In the month of May,” he adds, “the auditorium was thrown open for selective programmes in order to know the condition and finally it was opened for all the programmes.”After the closure and re-opening, Pascoal de Chicalim had the opportunity of staging his tiatr ‘Goenkaranchim Dukham’ in the renovated auditorium. He appreciates the functioning of the A/C and the newly installed sound system.

Keeping a check on the surroundings at the auditorium, Pascoal de Chicalim says the auditorium is clean inside, but he notes that the size of the stage has shrunk and it’s difficult to put up more than three curtains per show. Taking a look at the booking counter, he say, “It is not fit to be in operation as all the old furniture has been dumped there.”

The deputy collector’s office has been shifted on the first floor of the auditorium, while the health department officials were occupying the corridors for consultations and other health-related problems during Covid and now the Mamlatdar office has taken over for inward, outward section, thus inconveniencing the booking of tickets. “The walls outside the auditorium are looking shabby as the paint has peeled off due to non-painting for quite some time. All these things need to be rectified to bring Vasco’s Ravindra Bhavan back to its past glory,” he grieves. Unlike continuous shows of tiatrs at Ravinda Bhavan, Margao and Kala Academy, Panjim, continuous shows are not feasible in Vasco. “Due to poor attendance of spectators,” Pascoal de Chicalim says, ‘Back-to-back tiatrs are not practical in the port town.” He was a witness to last three monsoon tiatrs at Ravindra Bhavan, Vasco and he notes that barring one tiatr, which had sizeable audience, the remaining two received poor response, thus disappointing the director and troupe members.

Pascoal de Chicalim suggests only two tiatrs in a month to be staged in the Vasco auditorium which can easily draw sizable crowds, thus satisfying the expectations of the director. Or else the directors should be prepared to face unwanted losses with poor attendance. On behalf of the tiatr lovers in Vasco and neighbouring places, Pascoal de Chicalim requests the concerned authorities to rectify the shortfalls and provide a good auditorium, as before, to the audience.

After the inauguration of Ravindra Bhavan in Vasco, Joaquim Rodrigues from the port city has been assisting the tiatr directors in the sale of tickets whenever shows are held there, but now with the officials of the Mamlatdar office occupying the ‘Box Office’ and carrying out their daily proceedings, he finds it difficult to carry out his duty. “There’s hardly any space to sit and assist with the sale of tickets and the same is carried out at my shop near the Municipality Market sometimes. Around 99 percent of the sale of tickets takes place at my shop and one percent at the venue on the day of the show,” he grieves. 

With various government offices making a grand entry in Ravindra Bhavan, Vasco, will it continue to cater to the amusement needs of the artistes and spectators for months and years to come or will it face a closure very soon? Time will tell.

IDhar UDHAR

Idhar Udhar