Being rich in culture and heritage, the Goans have myriads of performing arts. Drama is one of them. The highlight of Goan drama, however, is their folk drama. Tiatr and Jagar are the names of two of the chief forms. Some of the others are Ranmale, Dashavatari, Kalo, Goulankala, Lalit, Kala and Rathkala. All the folk dramas practiced in Goa use the narrative style with the complimentary help of song and dance. The stories that they narrate are mostly those from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. However, with changing times, these dance dramas have remodeled themselves to include modern-day social issues as well.
The Tiatr or the Konkani Tiatr is a unique art form of Goa as it is solely social in content. The modern day Tiatr, however, does include religious issues â€“ a trend which started after Goa attained its liberty. The Tiatr is another instance where mass support plays a crucial role. It is one of those arts which despite centuries of Portuguese suppression and post-liberation neglect from the state governments has not just survived but also thrived and reinvented itself in many.
Tiatr, one of Goa’s popular form of local drama. Photo shows signboards at the Kala Academy, Panjim (India).
The Tiatr comprises of a blend of song and dance with a taut narrative. Mostly they deal with social issues; in fact at one time they â€˜onlyâ€™ dealt with social issues. They enacted family quarrels. However, since the time Goa attained its liberation from the Portuguese, religious issues have also filtered in their content. Now the Tiatr revolves around social, religious and political themes. The Tiatr is like a Greek drama in the sense that the acts are interspersed by songs which need not be directly linked to the content or the issues of the main drama. The drama contains some 6 or 7 acts. There is another version of the Tiatr called the Khell Tiatr, whose performance is restricted to the festivals of Carnival, Intruz and Easter. It differs from the Konkani Tiatr in another respect, that is that its songs are integrated with the main drama and do not deviate in content from it.
(Photograph by Frederick Noronha; courtesy: mapsofindia.com)