Saturday 01 Oct 2022

Tiatr breaks ground in the Americas

August 25, 2007, remains a red-letter day for Konkani tiatr in the USA. Tickets for the show were priced at 20 dollars. This included a lavish dinner. 950 people purchased the tickets. Heights Auditorium of Houston was all agog to create history. As the clock struck 8, the first ever tiatr in Texas began, Dev Podvedar a tiatr written and directed by Superstar Rons aka Ronnie Tavares, was staged to a thumping appreciation of Goans gathered in the auditorium

Michael Jude Gracias | AUGUST 05, 2022, 07:42 PM IST
Tiatr breaks ground in the Americas

‘Ajeeb hai Goa ke log’, is a famous line of our illustrious first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Goans wherever they are, will not leave their cultural heritage behind. The song and dance legacy handed over generations are an inseparable part of our daily life. 

He was just one of the thousands of Goans who disembarked from the ship and began living an ‘illegal’ life of uncertainty ‘on the land’ in the USA in the year 2000. Over time, the Gõykarponn in him found a voice and soon the birthday parties of fellow Goans which he attended found an entertaining singer. A guitarist Anthony Rodrigues from Utorda joined him and soon this duo earned the distinction of being the first to be invited for a celebration. Time flew and no celebration would be complete without this young singer belting out favourite Konkani golden hits besides his own songs. Rons Tavares, a young singer from Goa was the talk of all Goans' conversation in Texas!

Nothing is impossible for the one who dares to achieve. The birthday and wedding anniversary celebrations found a group of singers who partied in the real spirit of Gõykarponn in Houston-Texas, singing the favourite Konkani classics. It was here that this group decided to stage a Konkani musical show with the members of this group scouting for musicians to back the singers. The staging of a Musical Show was envisaged as the group had no known actors. Songs were composed by Rons and practices too started on a low key. Some musicians were scouted but they had no instruments to play. Rons bought a new drum set and the drummer began practising the rhythm. A keyboard was purchased and the keyboardist began practising the chords. Rons was full of enthusiasm and finances never came in as an obstacle. He was all set to create history in the USA by staging the first Konkani Musical Show: a musical show presented by Rons Tavares!

As Rons began scouting for Konkani Singers in Texas, he met a tiatrist who had carved for himself a niche of pride when part of Roseferns Dramatic troupe or Anil Kumars Tiatr; Normandez! Normandez inspired and motivated Rons to stage a Konkani tiatr instead of a musical show as a tiatr presentation was a unique form of art close to the hearts of Goans.

Normandez and Rons began meeting often. The plot was discussed. Rons began writing the script. Since Normandez was experienced as a tiatrist, Rons asked Normandez to jointly direct the tiatr with him. But Normandez, a man committed to the art of tiatr, chose to play his part with humility and dedication assuring Rons of all help for the presentation but declined the honour of directing the tiatr. Normandez used all his expertise in the professional field and saw that the script had a professional tiatr feel.

As Lucasinho Ribeiro and Joao Agostinho Fernandes began searching for artistes to stage the first ever tiatr Italian Bhurgo, Rons and Normandez kept on looking out for artistes. While male actors were available, finding female artistes was a problem. Yvette Barreto from Navelim, wife of another actor Ozy Barreto volunteered to do the honours and she convinced the other females to be part of this pilot project in Texas. Our Goan Charlie Chaplin Spirito and Normandez shouldered the responsibility of the lead. Comedian Alex took up the task of tickling the funny bones in the audience. Damy, another young lady from North Goa joined the team; rehearsals began with full enthusiasm.

The script was written, the comedy had to be incorporated. Rons discussed the matter with Normandez and they decided to write about the life of Goans in Texas, USA. 

Preparations went on in full swing. A band comprising of a Violinist, Keyboardist, Drummer, Rhythm Guitar and Bass (on a keyboard) began rehearsing the musical score as the actors rehearsed their prose delivery. Two stage curtains were brought from Goa spending Rs 28,000 for the making and transportation. Normandez took charge of the entire sets. The happiness of the cast and backstage artistes knew no bounds as they set their eyes on creating history. 

But then, the crab mentality of a fellow Goan came to the fore. This new group of tiatrists and most of the audience too were living illegally in Texas without a valid visa. A rumour was spread that the police would be raiding the auditorium and then those with a tiatr ticket would get a ticket back to Goa. The thought of repatriation was disturbing. But they decided to face the threat with courage; praying to God for their safety as they ventured to stage their tiatr acknowledging that the gift of art was God-given.

Finally, the day dawned. August 25, 2007; a red-letter day for Konkani tiatr in USA. Tickets for the show were priced at 20 dollars. This included a lavish dinner. 950 people purchased the tickets. Heights Auditorium of Houston was all agog to create history. As the clock struck 8, the first ever tiatr in Texas began, Dev Podvedar a tiatr written and directed by Superstar Rons aka Ronnie Tavares, was staged to a thumping appreciation of Goans gathered in the auditorium.

The first tiatr in the United States of America was staged under the banner of United Goans of Texas America (UGTA), spending around 15,000 US dollars. Rons Tavares became a household name.

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