19 Oct 2020 | 05:12am IST
A truly talented one
Maria Afonso has carved out a distinct niche for herself in the world of tiatr by her singing and her ability to compose as well as act very well
Participating in theatre workshops helped Maria to pick up the nuances of acting and composition of songs eventually leading to her grooming as a tiatrist.
Cumbharjua-based Maria Suizel Afonso, popularly known as Maria on the tiatr stage, was born on October 14, 1997. Her mother, Luiza Fernandes, was part of the church choir in Santa Cruz led by mestro Luis Cota.
Maria’s godfather, Robert Dias from Santa Cruz would write and stage tiatrs in the village for the chapel feast in the month of December. On one occasion, when he penned a tiatr and decided to stage it in the village, he roped in his godchild who was all of 6.
Later, Maria continued rendering songs in several village tiatrs till 2014. In 2014, she showcased her theatrical skills in tiatr ‘Chuk Konnachi’ by Dilip.
In the same year, the Tiatr Academy Goa (TAG) organized a theatre workshop during the summer vacation for amateur artistes across the state. The resource persons included Shirish Naik and Joe Rose.
As it was a one-month workshop with alternate day sessions, Maria participated in it along with several other amateur artistes. Apart from gaining knowledge about theatre in general and tiatr in particular, she also encountered many people of her age and developed friendships.
“After the workshop concluded,” revealed Maria, “one of the participants in the workshop suggested that a tiatr could be put up for the 5th
Children’s Tiatr Festival.” Sure enough she was part of Edmer Baretto’s troupe in children’s tiatr ‘Sogllim Ek’.
It was at TAG’s one-month workshop that Maria picked up the nuances of composing songs and setting them to music. “The workshop was very beneficial to amateur artistes, who would one day take a plunge on the Konkani stage,” she said.
While digesting the vast knowledge obtained at the workshop, Maria composed four songs in the form of solo, duo, duet and a trio for the children’s tiatr festival. “It was more of learning through practice,” she added.
From children’s tiatr, A M Araujo picked up Maria for the Kala Academy’s tiatr competition in his tiatr ‘Ghar Vapsi’ in 2015. “It was a main role in the tiatr,” she said, “which included singing and acting.”
In 2016, she joined late Kistu de Calangute’s tiatr ‘L.I.C’ for the Kala Academy’s tiatr competition, in the ‘B’ group. “All these entries and opportunities were only initiating growth and helping me to polish my theatrical skills,” she mentioned.
In 2017, Maria again made an entry in A M Araujo’s tiatr ‘Ek Novi Survat’ at Kala Academy’s annual tiatr competition, followed by tiatr ‘Chimtto’ in 2018 at the same competition. She believes that the annual tiatr competition organized by Kala Academy helps many amateur artistes across Goa to come on stage and showcase their inborn talents and theatrical skills.
Maria hopped on the commercial stage in Pascoal de Chicalim’s tiatr ‘Devchar’ in 2015. She made an entry there as a comedienne, with a minor role, which also included renditions.
But a little later, in the same production, she had to give up her comical shoes and went in for substitution. “It was a good exercise with a tryst of two different roles in the same production,” she revealed.
In 2016, Maria was roped in only for rendition in Milagres de Chandor’s tiatr ‘ATM’. In the same year, during the October season, she again joined Pascoal de Chicalim’s troupe for tiatr ‘Anj Boddvo’, followed by one show of Mark de Corlim’s tiatr ‘Mother Teresa’ at Ravindra Bhavan, Margao.
From 2017 to 2019, Maria was part of Pascoal de Chicalim’s dramatic troupe in tiatrs ‘Kolakaram’ (2017), ‘Sopon’ (2018) and ‘Rochnna’ (2019). In the same year, in the month of April, she was roped in by Selwyn de Siolim in tiatr ‘Mhozo Salam Tumkam’.
In 2017, Maria was part of Romeo D’Costa’s troupe in tiatr ‘Swach Bharat’, followed by tiatr ‘Dha Mandament’ of the same director in 2018. In 2019, she was part of Peter Barbosa’s troupe in tiatr ‘Zogzogta Titlem Bhangar Nhoi’, which was staged near the church in Santa Cruz.
Apart from showcasing her skills in tiatrs on the Konkani stage, Maria has also contributed towards the folk plays (zomnivhele khell) usually organized during the Carnival festivities. In 2017 she was part of Dada de Maina, followed by Peter de Maina’s troupe from 2018-2020.
To sharpen her vocal chords and showcase her musical skills, Maria also participated in the singing competitions organized by Kala Academy and TAG. In 2019, when TAG organized the singing competition, she picked up the second prize in the duo category, with her own composition rendered along with Madonna Fernandes.
When singing and acting on tiatr stage comes with ease for Maria, she considers singing as her forte. She made her debut by singing on stage and continues with it till date. When it comes to showcasing her acting skills, she has handled tragedy , besides negative and comedic roles.
Maria enjoys negative roles as she believes that it only helps her to bring out emotions to the maximum, apart from giving the best on the Konkani stage. When it came to substitution, she never missed any opportunity, assisting Aleixin de Morjim in tiatr ‘Hanv Jiklom’, followed by John Miranda during the season of Lent and Coly Col during the Easter season.
Maria had much love for tiatrs since childhood and would enjoy watching them along with her godparents. “The acting skills of tiatrists and soulful renditions by noted singers would simply elevate me,” she confesses, and the desire to be a tiatrist on stage kept her going.
“Don’t bother about what others say or speak about you,” Maria advises those desiring to make it big one day on the tiatr stage, “if you have the talent, get onto the stage boldly and showcase your talent for the sole love of tiatr and the Konkani language.”