There was a time when staging one-act plays during the Christmas season had taken a backseat for several years.
Then, someone in South Goa took the initiative of reviving them and after a wise decision, organised a one-act play competition, after ages, on a big scale, with attractive prizes for the winners.
One-act plays of 35 to 40 minutes duration each were always a part of the Christmas celebrations. And, a week-long programme chalked out in several parishes would always include a one-act play competition in the schedule.
Its promotion across Goa would work when the organisers would hold competitions at the village level, complete with cash prizes and trophies.
Those cash prizes and trophies would attract many village troupes, thus helping to keep the age-old tradition alive among the masses and the younger generation, too.
As the years rolled by, those competitive programmes took a backseat, and were slowly replaced by ‘presentations’ on stage, resulting in a lukewarm response from participants and viewers, alike.
THE SCENE TODAY
Today, various programmes on stage in the form of Christmas carols, short plays and ward-wise presentations are in the forefront. But, whether those presentations on stage attract active participation from the youth and audiences poses some introspection.
The recent novel initiative of the MLA of Velim constituency, under the banner ‘Umedhichi Sanz’, attracted 16 troupes participating in the one-act play competition, and stretched for three consecutive days.
The event also paid homage to departed tiatrists Mario Menezes, Fr Nevel Gracias, comedian Selvy and others, who contributed immensely towards the growth of the Konkani stage.
One of the contestants and first prize winner, Antonet de Souza from Santa Cruz, who staged her one-act play, Suttka, appreciated the move of the local MLA to organise an event on a big scale. “This tradition must continue in the near future at the village level,” she said.
With 16 groups participating in the said competition, de Souza was astonished at the excitement and enthusiasm of all the participants.
“Such events definitely provide a platform for the youth to come on stage and showcase their hidden talents,” she said.
De Souza informed that she had organized an inter-school one-act plays competition in her school.
“And, to aid in its success, rules and regulations were sought from the Tiatr Academy of Goa (TAG); but unfortunately, they had none,” she noted.
Commenting on the three-day event happening at Chinchinim, one of the participants and the third prize winner at the competition, the parish priest of St Francis Xavier Church, Chicalim, Fr Bolmax Pereira, who presented his one-act play, Mhoji Novi Baim, under the banner of ‘Chicalim Youth Farmers Club’, said, “The revival of one-act plays is the need of the hour as those plays reflect our rich Goan culture.”
“Unfortunately, with the success of non-stop tiatrs and short films,” Fr Pereira observed, “The one-act plays have encountered a slow and natural death, with a poor response from the audience.”
“In today’s digitally-active world, watching short films within the four walls of your cozy home is equal to watching one-act plays on stage,” he presumes. “And, that lost interest needs to be re-ignited among the people.”
“The popularity of one-act plays that once prevailed in the villages is lost today. The revival of these plays is a must,” Fr Pereira opines, “as it is a good platform to concertize people about several societal, family issues and send out messages.”
“This initiative will be successful only if one-act plays in the form of competitions or festivals are organized in other villages as well,” he added.
“Our sole intention of participating in the competition was revival of one-act plays, and the same was the motive of the organisers,” the parish priest of Chicalim Church added.