Welcome to the world of Tiatr! (Theatre Review)

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New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) Set in the 1970s, Sunil Shanbag’s play “Loretta” performed under a series of plays by Aadyam, is a good example of the popular Goan genre “Tiar” or musical theatre. It keeps the audiences enthralled and entertained by its heady dose of comedy and lyrical music.

An Anglo-Indian woman, Loretta (played by Rozzlin Pereira), falls hook line and sinker in love with her boyfriend Rafael’s river island in Goa and has been mandated to learn the regional language Konkani by the boy’s father, Antonio Piedade Moraes, to live on the island.

The first act opens with the two reaching Rafael’s house, with the girl struggling with her heavy rucksack and is snubbed by the boy, who starts to say “if you have forgotten your feminism bullshit” but is interrupted by the girl, who starts appreciating the scenery and the ambience exclaiming: “What a beautiful house!”

Widower Moraes lives a rather comfortable life in his resplendent home, with much help from a lot of locals. Surrounded by bakers, gardeners and a whole lot of others, Antonio, a great votary of the Konkani language, is extremely protective of his island.

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Rafael doesn’t quite share his father’s love for Goa, while Loretta’s strong need for roots makes her relate to Antonio. Despite that, Antonio doesn’t warm up to her instantly. He tells her that the only way she can continue living on the island is if she can speak Konkani. With a little help from some friends, Loretta manages to appear successful before an apparent tragedy befalls on them. The play reaches an amiable conclusion, and in the process, the characters undergo a transformation.

The thrill of the play does not lie merely in its plot but in the direction and characterisation that offer ample comedy to entertain the audience. This will come as a respite for those theatre lovers who look forward to sensible, satirical drama on stage. Perhaps it is the genre of Tiatr or Konkani drama that keeps the play lively enough to keep the audiences intrigued.

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It is the story of someone (Antonio) who is stuck in the roots of the place and feels that “Goa should get statehood and Konkani should be made its official language”. He yells at his son, saying: “You were not sent to Bombay to forget Goa.”

His son believes that “he has never been a father but just a keeper of the tradition. I feel like an alien in my home…there is no life here…I am not a frog in a well”.

Loretta, on the other hand, feels that “it’s here where I belong. I am going to feel like a part of the island in every way”.

The dramatics are perfectly combined with multiple elements of music, dance and political satire. A great visual effect is created by the colourful stage.

“Goa has been very nicely depicted in the play, not confining it to just being a tourist attraction but the essential lifestyle of the people who maintain a perfect balance between work and partying,” Rozzlin Pereira told IANS.

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Pereira feels that people moving from all over are unable to preserve Goa’s quintessential culture.

“People from everywhere are buying bungalows and hotels and things in the state are gradually changing as they don’t know how to preserve the plain and natural essence of the place,” she said.

As for the protagonist Loretta, Pereira said: “She speaks her mind and is very honest apout her opinions. It makes it easier for people in her life to deal with her outspoken and straightforward personality…What I love about the character is that she is so sweet and innocent. I don’t think I would have put in the kind of effort that Loretta does.”

“Loretta addresses substantial cultural issues with the help of the distinctive features of the genre. It sees familial and social issues being dealt with in a manner that’s typical of the genre,” director Shanbag said.

“These shows often tackle important social issues in a thought-provoking, satirical manner,” he said.



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