By Tomazinho Cardozo
The first tiatr ‘Italian Bhurgo’, written and directed by Lucasinho Ribeiro, was staged 120 years ago on April 17, 1892 in Mumbai. This was the day when the dramatic genius of Lucasinho Ribeiro and Joao Agostinho Fernandes gave birth to a unique dramatic form – the tiatr.
Hence, when we celebrate Tiatr Day, we must make it a point to recall the immense contributions of these two stalwart of Konkani stage.
Lucasinho Ribeiro, who adapted an English play titled ‘Italian Boy’ to Konkani stage, apparently had no idea that he was going to create history with his unique stage format.
There is an interesting story behind the concept of presenting songs between scenes. It so happened that Lucasinho Ribeiro and his artistes, during rehearsals, found that it was difficult to change sets without wasting time. This would mean that between scenes the audience would be left bored. This led him to think of the idea of presenting songs in front of the curtain while the sets were being changed behind the curtain.
The introduction of songs in front of the curtain was a novel idea and was much appreciated and enjoyed by the audience as it did not give any scope for waste of time. With this move Lucasinho landed creating a new dramatic format, which involved prose as well as song and music. Therefore, Lucasinho Ribeiro can be considered as the creator of this unique form of drama called tiatr.
Although Lucasinho Ribeiro was the first to stage a tiatr, yet he is not known as the father of tiatr. It is Joao Agostinho Fernandes, who is known as ‘Father of Tiatr’ and there are numerous reasons for this. Lucasinho Ribeiro died young. Joao Agostinho Fernandes lived till the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of Tiatr, in 1942, which meant that Joao Agostinho Fernandes remained on people’s mind while Lucasinho Ribeiro did not. He also stopped the tradition of adapting English and French plays to Konkani tiatr. Instead he started writing original scripts on social issues prevalent in the Goan society and with this move tiatr got a Goan flavour. Agostinho was farsighted and understood the need for preserving his scripts for posterity. He published his scripts over 100 years back!
Not only that, he was also the first Goan artiste to record Konkani songs on HMV Records almost 102 years back! HMV Gramophone Company recorded his song ‘Mirmireancho Mog’ on vinyl records in 1910.
A perfectionist he made it a point to maintain high standards in tiatrs, in all aspects. In 1942, during the Golden Jubilee celebrations of tiatr, he was unanimously elected chairman of the Golden Jubilee Celebration of Tiatr Committee.
His visionary outlook led people to look upon Joao Agostinho Fernandes as the ‘Father of Tiatr’; as such tiart lovers lovingly referred to him as ‘Pai Tiatrist’.
However, it is very important to give equal importance to these great souls of Konkani Tiatr stage – Lucasinho Ribeiro, who is called ‘The Creator of Tiatr’ and Joao Agostinho Fernandes who is known as the ‘Father of Tiatr’.