TIATR : MIRROR OF GOA'S CULTURE
The Konkani tiatr, a dramatic art form, unique to Goa has flourished and thrived for over a hundred years. Tiatr has been sustained entirely by popular support as it has never been extended any patronage and help either by the Portuguese colonial regime or successive governments in post liberation Goa.
Tiatr shows are invariably housefull particularly when a new tiatr is launched. Tiatrist have achieved a high degree of professionalism in recent years with elaborate sets, lighting and other technical aspects. But the success of the tiatr is mainly due to the fact that the themes chosen are topical and contemporary.
What distinguishes the tiatr from other dramatic forms, is the songs on topical, burning, controversial issues that are interspersed through the performance. These musical interludes which are very satirical are independent of the main theme of the play. The songs are irreverent and gently or at times even savagely poke fun at the government.
Konkani tiatrist have been unsparing of public authorities and have consistently exposed their follies and subjected them mercilessly to ridicule. While tiatr has always relied a great deal on satire, it has most of the time been clean, good fun and there is almost never any malice.
Tiatrist have always demonstrated a very high degree of social awareness. Most of the themes of tiatr are concerned with social problems confronting the people.
Tiatrs have focused on the drug problem, alchoholism, the false sense of values of Goans who strike it rich in the Gulf, the fall in values that lead to the neglect of parents, the problems of inter-caste marriage and the like.
There is a very healthy sense of irreverence in the themes and the dialogues in tiatr and the high and mighty including ministers and even priests. The tiatr as a dramatic form has been traditionally the exclusive preserve of the Christian community.
Tiatrists come from all sections of society. Besides the regular commercial shows, tiatrs are invariably held to commemorate every church and chapel feast in the State.
Though a popular entertainment form, tiatrs have always catered to the family. Though the dialogue can be very earthy it has none of bawdiness of the Marathi tamasha, which it resembles in many ways.
Even the harshest critics of tiatr acknowledge that it was this dramatic form which kept the Konkani language alive during Portuguese colonial rule, when Konkani was suppressed. Tiatrists played a major role in the struggle to make Konkani the officials language of the State.