Friday, 12 September 2014

Goan Theatre in English

                             Binding the Evanescent: Goan Theatre in English

                                                       Dr. Brian Mendonça                               


A serious study of Goan drama as a genre of literature in English is sadly lacking. Goa has made a name for itself in the tiatr in Konkani and the khell in Marathi but English is a poor cousin. This seems to be because of the paucity of Goan playwrights writing in English and secondly owing to the pathetic patronage given to it by the Goan English-speaking public. While this is a malaise which is not peculiar to Goa alone it is useful to dwell on this lacunae and whether the situation can be remedied.

I would like to look at the work of 3 Goan playwrights, viz. Isabel de Santa RitaVas, Savio Sequeira and Afsar Hussain. Isabel de Santa Rita Vas is founder-member of the Mustard Seed Art Company – an amateur theatre group in Goa– more than 25 years ago. Over the years the company has staged 55 plays with Ms.Vas having written more than 27.   Deftly staying away from the risqué which plagues much English theatre, hers is a refreshing take on contemporary Goa performed in a language simple and heart-warming. The fusion of Portuguese, Marathi and Konkani in her plays gives them a local idiom. Like her Frescoes in the Womb the plays tap a racial memory which is evanescent and almost mythic. Savio Sequeira who has staged Fires of Darkness is Nairobi-born and Dublin based. Afsar Hussain has collaborated with Savio Sequeira to stage Red Oleanders. It is interesting to examine these impulses which crisscross the globe with themes at once national (Tagore's Post Office) and local. Ghosts at Large by Vas for example, summons up the ghosts of 'Great Goans' like Mogubai Kurdikar, Gerson DaCunha, Angelo da Fonseca and Bakibab Borkar among others in a musty library being pulled down to make way for a mall.           
National Seminar on Goan Writing. ‘Celebrating Creativity, Commemorating Genius: Glimpses of Goan Writing in English and in Translation.’ Curtain Raiser in honour of Lambert Mascarenhas’ 100th birthday. 9-10 September 2014, Institute Menezes Braganza Hall, Panjim, Goa. Pix of Brian Mendonca presenting his views on 10 September 2014 at the venue.

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