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Tiatr: As big as Prince Jacob

Tiatr is a century-old entertainment form unique to Goa. While other forms of theatre have progressed, Tiatr has stayed the same over the years. Now, there is a need to take this art form to a professional stage and change the way people view tiatr

Prince Jacob   28 December 2012

Tiatr is a unique form of theatre – unique not only to Goa, but to the world at large. The fact that tiatr has completed 120 years while the film industry is only 100 years old says it all. Tiatr has played a major role in the changes that have happened in Goa – right from the language issue, political issues, elections, changes in the government, etc to addressing burning issues such as mining, environment and AIDS. From the platform and from the stage tiatrists have reached out to the masses in a ‘language’ that was understood and appealed to the common man. Tiatr has touched hearts and educated people.

Judging by the statistics, the number of tiatr-goers has surely increased – in earlier times we had only two tiatr seasons: one from April to October and the second from October to January. We now have four seasons, the need of which arose to accommodate the increasing audience. This swell in the audience is not limited to Goa but all over the world. Tiatr, over the years has crossed geographical boundaries – Dubai, Qatar, Masqat, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Sarjah, London, Canada, America, UK, France and Germany. However, these figures should not make us complacent; we should keep striving and revamping our act with innovative ideas to keep up with the modern times.

Tiatr consists of three stakeholders – the authorities, the tiatr industry and the audience. Each has to play an equal role to ensure that in the years to follow tiatr does not wither or is not replaced by other forms of entertainment. Every time that we performed in countries out of India, the initiative was a private one – the organisers were Goans who are settled abroad – and the government hardly played a role popularising tiatr at this level. The most important contribution that the government needs to make is finance. Tiatr has survived for 120 years without government aid and though the formation of the Tiatr Academy of Goa (TAG) ensures that there is semblance of order, before TAG, tiatr did not have set guidelines.

With regard to the industry, the current trend is, a single person writes the script, directs the tiatr and produces it. This has to change. We have so many talented writers in Goa, we can take the script from one of these writers, give him credit and his dues. This also sees that the lesser known writers are brought to the limelight. Scripts can also be translated and adapted from theatre forms of other languages. The same person should not be producing and directing the tiatr. What is seen now, is the script is given to the actors and they read their lines. A director should ensure that the tiatr is directed in a professional and organised fashion. Also, tiatr currently follows the traditional form – it has seven porde and contains songs that are not related to the story. Though people are happy with this form, the times to come will see a change in the tastes of the people and we have to keep that change in mind by writing scripts for modern times and of modern ideas. Again, to take tiatr to a more professional level, we need to introduce formal training for all involved – from the actors to the directors to the light men. The professionals in the tiatr industry should keep themselves updated and educated at all times by attending workshops and training sessions. Ask a tiatrist where he was trained and he will tell you it is a God-given gift. But this gift needs to be polished. If there is a workshop in singing and acting happening in Kala Academy for children, I attend it. People ask me, you are the No.1 writer, director, why do you want to attend this workshop? I reply, learning never ends.

 We also need young blood for our tiatrs. Though my tiatrs have youth acting in them, the TAG has planned an initiative in this direction – we will be opening a school that will operate in the months of April and May. This school will cater especially to students as they have summer vacations during that time. There will be a syllabus that will educate students on all that goes into the making of a tiatr. In addition, to make this venture more inviting, we intend to provide a stipend for all trainees. With formal education, the standard of acting will go up. Times have changed. Working in tiatr is no longer considered below one’s dignity. I am of the opinion that schools too should compulsorily introduce a subject of theatre and music. This way, children will have a taste of acting and singing from early on.

And as for the audience, they are the reason why we are here. The rates of the tiatr tickets have been kept affordable so that everybody can avail of this form of entertainment. From my side, I believe that discipline has helped me go a long way. My shows start on the dot. People come and tell that I am the only one who starts on time. To be on high standards in 2020 we have to value time now. Give importance to time, the artist and everybody in society. My wish is to see Konkani tiatr rising to the level of the Marathi stage, which is currently the No.1 in the world.

Prince Jacob, popularly known the world over as the King of Comedy, began his career in tiatr when he was only 13 years old. His first tiatr was Pinzrem and there was no stopping him after that. In 1985 he began producing tiatrs and has produced 54 tiatrs till date. His endeavour to create a Guinness World Record by writing tiatrs whose names begin with the alphabet ‘P’, is an unique obsession. One such very popular tiatr is Padre. Prince Jacob also hosts a radio show and he believes that this way he is in people’s homes. He is the President of the Tiatr Academy of Goa (TAG) 

Vision 2020

  • Change the outlook of tiatr, so that scripts can be adapted from works of literature or other forms of theatre
  • Have a creative separation between the writer, director and actors. Move beyond the writer and director being the same person, which could stifle the creative process
  • Have workshops for the younger generation of tiatrists, so they can learn this art form on a professional level
  • Have formal training for current tiatrists and introduce them to newer forms of writing, directing and stage production
  • Schools should include music and theatre in their curriculum

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