Sunil Shanbag and Co to bring Goan theatre to life in Mumbai

Apr 03, 2016, 11:07 IST | Gitanjali Chandrasekharan

Sunil Shanbag and Co. bring a slice of Goan theatre with all its elements in place — from painted curtains to 'sideshows'

This is my 36th play, but the first in the tiatr format,” says Pundalik Naik, a Konkani-language poet, short-story writer, novelist, playwright, and screenwriter from Goa, ahead of a performance of Loretta in Mumbai.

Loretta is the story of a Goan landlord (bhatkar) from the 1970s, Antonio Piedade Moraes. Surrounded by a whole host of staff, Antonio, a great votary of the Konkani language, is rather protective of his island. His son, Rafael (who has returned from Mumbai with his Anglo Indian girlfriend, Loretta), doesn't quite share his father's love for Goa, while Loretta’s strong need for roots make her relate to Antonio.

Sunil Shanbag
Sunil Shanbag

Despite that, Antonio doesn’t warm up to her. He tells her that the only way she can continue living on the island is if she can speak Konkani. With a little help from some friends, Loretta manages to appear successful before an apparent tragedy befalls them. While the story’s premise is interesting, what sets the 120-minute long play apart is the format it follows. Directed by Sunil Shanbag, it is inspired, he says, by Goa’s tiatr format. Tiatr, from the Portuguese word for theatre teatro, is a popular form of musicals in Goa with a ‘sideshow’ inserted between different acts, i.e. when the curtains are down.

"We are not trying to reproduce it in Mumbai, however," says Shanbag. "As a format, it is rooted in Goan culture, so we are picking up key elements like the painted curtains and sideshows and reproducing the spirit of tiatr," he adds. In fact, it was Shanbag who asked Naik to write a tiatr. "I have seen a lot of these performances in Goa over the last few years and thought it would be exciting to bring it to Mumbai.” Incidentally, the first tiatr performance ever, Italian Bhurgo, adapted from the Italian play, was staged at the New Alfred Theatre, Bombay, on Easter Sunday on 17 April, 1892.

Loretta is the story of a Goan landlord from the 1970s
Loretta is the story of a Goan landlord from the 1970s

Naik, who wrote Loretta six months ago, says writing the format was not easy. “While in most plays two acts include all events, here I had to break things down between three acts and four scenes in between,” he says. He has also written the Kantar songs that are typical of the format. Naik is not aware of the content of the slideshow.

These, says Shanbag, have been written by stand up comic Varun Grover. In fact, he adds, the play has been put together by a whole lot of people. While Naik wrote it in Konkani, it has been translated into English by Milind Dhaimade.

Where: St. Andrew’s Auditorium, St Domnic Rd, St Sebastian Colony, Bandra West
When: April 8-9, 4 & 7.30 pm
Entry: Rs 300 – Rs 1,000
Call: 26401657

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