04 Jun 2023  |   06:13am IST

Is it curtains for tiatr in Goa?

With an aim to boost traditional art and culture forms in Goa, the State Government has set up multiple centres like the Kala Academy in Panjim and Ravindra Bhavan in various taluka places. One such art form is the tiatr. These cultural centres are a lifeline for hundreds of tiatr artistes in the State, who get to stage their work and earn a livelihood out of it. Unfortunately, this popular art form is dying a slow death in Goa as the artistes are deprived from using these facilities, either due to their prolonged closure for maintenance or malfunctioning facilities like the sound systems. In some instances, portions of the Ravindra Bhavan complex have been converted into government offices. MARCOS GONSALVES finds out how government apathy is finishing this already fledging art form in Goa, which ironically is gaining prominence in the UK and other parts of the world
Is it curtains for tiatr in Goa?

A sudden failure of the air conditioner (AC) of Ravindra Bhavan, Margao resulted in resentment among the audiences watching tiatr show titled ‘Tumich Mhaka Sangat’ (You all tell me). Fortunately, Sammy Tavares, a well-known tiatr director, not only managed to refund the tickets of nearly 77 tiatr lovers, but also controlled the situation, despite incurring losses amounting to Rs 11,500 towards refund cost for no fault of his. 

The Kala Academy in Panjim is still under renovation, the Pai Tiatrist Hall in Margao is having poor facilities, Ravindra Bhavan in Vasco is closed as its centralised AC has not been repaired for almost four years. 

Besides, several other issues like no proper provisions to arrange sets, crammed stages, no proper sound system etc are resulting in tiatrists’ inability to stage their shows in the auditoriums of Ravindra Bhavan, Curchorem, Rajiv Gandhi Kala Mandir, Ponda and Ravindra Bhavan, Sankhali. 

This is the story across Goa, which is bothering the performers and the general public alike.  It has raised serious questions pertaining to the future of one of the biggest entertainment industries of Goa, which is unique in nature, compared to other dramatic art forms.  

Unfortunately, the government is hardly concerned about the hardships being faced by the tiatrists despite the fact hundreds of families are dependent on tiatr for their living. 

Hundreds of tiatr artistes, directors and producers have been crying for government attention, but to no avail. What the tiatr fraternity wants is just proper facilities and slots to stage their shows in the auditorium of the Ravindra Bhavans across the state of Goa. 

Lack of tiatr shows has not only affected the makers, but also the tiatr lovers across Goa as they are deprived of high quality, low cost entertainment.

Presently, due to closure of Kala Academy, the tiatr lovers from North district are affected the most as compared to South. 

It has been revealed that presently nearly 50 tiatr groups are currently ready with new shows. They have not been able to stage them due to unavailability of auditoriums and lack of proper facilities.

After interacting with several tiatr directors, besides tiatr lovers, O Heraldo found that the government is hardly showing any concern towards the tiatr fraternity by not resolving the issues plaguing tiatrists. 

Availability of auditoriums and proper facilities requires a long-term investment. The tiatr fraternity wants the government to look into the welfare of tiatrists by giving the art form a heritage status, as it is unique to Goa and it cannot be allowed to die. 

“It is an art form which unless protected, future generations won’t be able to appreciate. The government has a key role to play in keeping tiatr alive,” the tiatrists said.

Closure of Kala Academy has deprived thousands of tiatr lovers from North district watching their favourite tiatrist on the stage and getting entertained. Many are forced to travel to Margao to watch the tiatr and bear the inconvenience caused due to lack of facilities. The audience has to struggle for getting even a cup of tea during the interval. 

“In recent times, what I have observed is that the government is least bothered about the concerns of the tiatr community and the tiatr lovers. The government has failed to address the major grievances of the tiatrists, despite repeated requests for intervention,” said tiatr lover Rozar Fernandes from Candolim. 

Anthony Rodrigues, another tiatr lover from Benaulim, also spoke on the similar lines and charged the authorities of showing negligence towards one of the traditional art forms of Goa. 

“Tiatr is the only art form in Goa which generates revenue. Besides entertaining and keeping alive the tradition, it is an industry in itself, generating self-employment. Shockingly, the government has failed to understand these simple things. Maybe someone in the government wants tiatr to die a slow death,” he said. 

Seeing the condition of the auditoriums of all Ravindra Bhavans run by the government, tiatr lovers and the tiatr artists have a single question to ask: “Hem Oxench Choltolem?” (Will this keep going on?).

Present Apathy of Auditoriums:

While poor infrastructure of Ravindra Bhavans is the key issue, which has made the tiatrists and the public furious, but there are other problems too like lack of canteen facilities, which is causing hardships to the tiatr lovers. 

For example, people avoid coming to watch the tiatr shows at Ravindra Bhavan in Margao. With no committee in place, the management of Ravindra Bhavan is finding it difficult to resolve the issue of starting a canteen, despite repeated demands for the same by tiatr lovers. 

Apart from this, there has been also demand for toilet and sound system in the green room in Margao Ravindra Bhavan. It must be noted that this is the only cultural centre to earn some profit as it attracts maximum crowd. 

Yet, the artistes and public continue to face the brunt of inadequate facilities here. The sound system of Pai Tiatrist Hall was last upgraded in 2010 and thereafter nothing has been done to improve its sound quality. Tiatrists continue to complain about the adverse impact it has had on the performances of the artistes.

The auditorium of Ravindra Bhavan, Vasco, has been closed for the last few years and its centralised AC is yet to be repaired. 

Shockingly, this Ravindra Bhavan complex which was constructed to promote art and culture has now turned into government offices. Except the main auditorium, all other sections of the Ravindra Bhavan have been allotted for offices to departments which have no connection with activities related to art and culture.

The small size of the stage and crammed green rooms at Ravindra Bhavan, Curchorem, has forced the tiatr directors to avoid staging shows over here. They are of the opinion that staging tiatr in Curchorem attracts lesser audiences as compared to Margao and hence they are forced to think twice before staging their shows here. 

Senior tiatr director Roseferns claimed that even the auditorium at Rajiv Gandhi Kala Mandir, Ponda, lacks proper sound system, which impacts tiatr shows. 

The story of Ravindra Bhavan, Sankhali, is same like Vasco, where there is no provision for even installing sets on the stage. This has forced the tiatrists to not even think of staging their shows over here. 

The situation is such that the only auditorium that gives best returns on performing tiatr doesn’t have proper facilities and auditoriums having satisfactory facilities, have low turnout for shows. 



Iddhar Udhar