With the grand entry of Covid-19 in the tiny state of Goa, two years ago, live entertainment via tiatrs and Marathi nataks came to an abrupt halt. Other than being confined to the four walls of the house and the ‘Idiot Box’ being switched on for 24-hour entertainment through various channels, there was no other form of live entertainment for the Goan community.
Over a period of time, as the pandemic witnessed a decline across the globe, with decreasing cases in Goa, Ravindra Bhavan in Margao — the only auditorium in South Goa — was opened for entertainment in the form of tiatrs, nataks and other cultural programmes.
Before the financial year ending, in the month of March 2022, Ravindra Bhavan was declared open for Kala Academy’s annual tiatr competition. Tiatr fans witnessed the ‘B’ and ‘A’ social and cultural groups from North and South Goa, performing at the competition.
And, in the month of April 2022, Ravindra Bhavan, Margao, was declared open for staging of commercial tiatrs of various directors. It was a sigh of great relief for all tiatr-goers as they could watch the tiatrs of their favourite directors after a gap of almost two years.
Since April 2022, till date, tiatrs from different directors are being staged at Ravindra Bhavan, Margao, some of which are going full-house. As the Kala Academy auditorium, in Panjim, has been closed for quite some time for want of repairs, people from North Goa are forced to travel long distances to Margao to enjoy their favourite tiatrs.
But, the irony is that despite tiatrs being staged in Ravindra Bhavan, Margao, some going to packed houses, tiatr-goers have nothing to eat or drink during the three-long hour entertainment.
With the canteen not leased out to anyone on contract (as done earlier before the pandemic), it is found to be closed – before, during and after the interval. Consequently, tiatr lovers have no option, but to remain hungry and thirsty throughout the show. A temporary arrangement – of standby snacks and drinks for the audience – is made at the ticket counter; but how long will this practice continue?
The concerned authorities at Ravindra Bhavan, Margao, are charging all tiatr directors an amount of Rs 13,000 as rent in order to stage their new productions. In such a case, why can’t the authorities at least make arrangements to open the existing canteen on a full-fledged basis?
The same is the plight of the director and his fellow artistes, backstage personnel, musicians and lightmen. He has to make all the necessary arrangements, from outside the auditorium, to provide refreshments for his entire troupe during the break, after the first half of each show.
“When we are paying to witness a tiatr in the heart of the Margao city, why should we be deprived of refreshments at the canteen at break time, apart from entertainment in the auditorium?” inquires Rose Menezes, from Chinchinim. Menezes is a tiatr fan and will not miss any of the tiatrs staged in Margao.
“It is a sheer neglect and irresponsibility on the part of the Ravindra Bhavan authorities to keep the existing canteen closed for so long, when tiatrs are being staged on a regular basis,” stated a tiatr-goer, Agnelo Gomes, from Gogol, Margao. “Aren’t the authorities charging tiatr directors to stage their shows? So, why deprive the director, his troupe, and the audience as well, of refreshments at interval time?” he queried.
So, until the canteen is officially declared open for all, it’s going to be entertainment, sans refreshments, for all those flocking Ravindra Bhavan, Margao, to witness a tiatr or any cultural programme in the auditorium, conference hall or the black box existing within the premises.