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Time for drama, music and comedy as Goan theatre comes to Delhi

Sunil Shanbag’s play Loretta revolves around the concepts of identity, chauvinistic pride and anxieties

art and culture Updated: May 27, 2016 20:31 IST
Furquan Ameen Siddiqui
Furquan Ameen Siddiqui
Hindustan Times
Tiatr,Teatro,Sunil Shanbag
A scene from Loretta, Sunil Shanbag’s play revolving around the concepts of identity, chauvinistic pride and anxieties.

Tiatr, a term that comes from Teatro, theatre in Portuguese, has been a popular dramatic form in Goa for over a hundred years. Performed in Konkani language, it has elements of drama, music, comedy and improvisation.

“The plays work within a strictly Goan Christian moral context”, noted eminent scholar Pramod Kale, in his 1986 article on Tiatr in the Economic and Political Weekly journal.

He further said that the art form “reflects a complex set of attitudes which include, amongst others, an intense regional/national pride for Goa and things Goan, a strong belief in the sanctity of family life and an abiding faith in God”.

Read: Akshara puts theatre on trial: Art festival celebrates courtroom drama

This is where Sunil Shanbag, director and filmmaker, found his inspiration, to work on a play that depicted the ‘concepts of identity, chauvinistic pride and anxieties’. His play, Loretta, scheduled this weekend in Delhi is his first attempt at Tiatr, performed in English and Konkani.

Loretta is set in the ’70s on a river island in Goa. Antonio Moraes, a landlord, is quite protective of the island and a votary of the Konkani language. The play begins when his son, Rafael, comes back from Bombay, with his girlfriend, Loretta. An Anglo-Indian, her mother tongue is English, which the old man finds difficult to accept. The only way she can stay there, rules the old man, is if she learns Konkani. The entire plot is around her attempt to meet this challenge.

“It revolves around identity, language and culture,” says Shanbag, who leads the Aparna Theatre that has produced the play in association with Aadyam. “How do you prove that you’re a Goan, an Indian or anything else? It’s [identity] a big debate nowadays.”

Loretta is Sunil Shanbag’s first attempt at Tiatr. (Vipin Kumar/HT)

Just like traditional Tiatr performances, this play will also be punctuated by side shows, performed in front of the curtain, during breaks while the set is being changed. These shows – ranging from skits, songs or monologues – are mostly satirical in nature, and deal with current issues.

“The play is presented in a simple, joyful way. There is no villain,” says Shanbag. “The side-shows are about language chauvinism, of being exclusive and not inclusive and other views on contemporary cultural issues.”

Loretta was well received in Mumbai last month, but the real test, says Shanbag, is how Goans react when it is performed in the land of Tiatr.

Kamani Auditorium, 1, Copernicus Marg,
4 pm & 7.30 pm; May 28
Rs.300 to Rs.1000

Follow @htlifeandstyle for more.

First Published: May 27, 2016 20:31 IST