However it was Joao Agostinho Fernandes hailing from Margao, Salcete who wrote and directed numerous Tiatrs and gave a high standard of excellence to the Tiatr Stage. He even published his Tiatr manuscripts in book form over hundred years back. He was rightly called the 'Father of Tiatr'.
There is no documentation at all which gives a clear picture of the staging of the first Tiatr in 1892. It is only in 1943, on the occasion of Golden Jubilee of the Tiatr that Joao Agostinho Fernandes wrote a letter, which was published in the issue of 'Ave Maria' dated 28th November, 1943. In this letter, Joao Agostinho Fernandes describes how Lucazinho Ribeiro got a job in an Italian Opera Company and how he wrote the first tiatr 'Italian Bhurgo'. He also in this letter makes a mention of one Caitaninho who also assisted Mr. Rebeiro besides him to stage the First Tiatr in 1892. Mr. Fernandes also informs through this letter how jealousy crept in and how different dramatic troupes were formed, thereby creating disunity among the tiatr artistes in those years. Although Joao Agostinho Fernandes went all out to develop the Tiatr and brought high standard to the Tiatr Stage and whom people lovingly called Father of Tiatr shows his greatness of in the last paragraph of his letter in which he says "Undoubtedly the credit goes to Late Mr. Lucazinho Ribeiro on the Tiatr stage. I bow my head to Mr. Ribeiro, who was my guide and teacher and because of his guidance I still continue to present Tiatrs of good values to the Tiatr lovers".
This letter is the only source, which provides information about the innovation of the Tiatr and the staging of the first Tiatr. History unveils the fact that before Tiatr was born, the entertainment to the Goan masses was provided by folk dramatic forms namely Zagor & Khell. Zagor was popular in the north of Goa whereas Khell, which was also known as Fell, was popular in the south of Goa.
Infact Zagor & Khell entertained the Goan masses for a long time; Whenever Goans migrated to other parts of the country for employment they took with them these forms of entertainment. However as time passed the standard of Zagor as well as Khell, deteriorated due to introduction of elements of vulgarity to create fun and cheap entertainment for the audience. This decline of quality in staging Zagor and Khell prevented many people from witnessing these forms of entertainment. Educated people stopped patronizing the Zagor as well as the Khell.
Goans were in need of good and qualitative entertainment and thus the Tiatr was born. Shri Lucazinho Ribeiro was one of the few youths in Assagao who knew to read and write English. Being unemployed, he used to give tuitions to others in English. He was very much interested in cultural activities from his young age. He was a good singer too and enjoyed singing Konkani & English songs. Having knowledge of English and being unemployed, he migrated to Bombay, as most of the Goans did, in search of a job.
During that time Italian troupes were touring important cities of India such as Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi and Madras to stage Italian Operas. They used to come with the required number of artistes' in order to reduce the cost of transport, accommodation, etc. When in India, they used to employ Indians mostly as back stage artistes. Lucazinho Ribeiro, having love for dramatic art, tried his luck to get employment in one of the Italian dramatic troupes. He got a job as a back stage artiste. The troupe was staging the opera called "Italian Boy". When the troupe left India, Lucazinho Ribeiro bought the costumes used in the play with an intention to produce a similar drama in Konkani. Accordingly, based on the same story of "Italian Boy" he write a "Teatro" in Konkani and called it "Italian Bhurgo"
As there were many different scenes in this "Teatro" and as it required different stage sets, in order not to waste time, he thought of dropping the curtain and introducing songs and dances in front of the curtain. This was needed to entertain the audience while the Stage Setting was being done behind the curtain. These songs and dances did not have any relevance to the theme of the play 'Italian Bhurgo'. This is how a new concept of dramatic form called Teatro came into existence on 17th April, 1892. The first Tiatr "Italian Bhurgo" was written by Lucasinho Ribeiro and staged in Bombay on 17th April, 1892. This Tiatr was an adaptation of the Italian Opera called 'Italian Boy'.
That was just the beginning and after that there was no looking back. There is no doubt that the most popular dramatic form in Goa is the Tiatr. Since 1892 to 2008, a period of hundred sixteen years, it is observed that Tiatr is getting more and more popular day after day and year after year. No feast, even in the small wards of the villages in Goa, could be complete without staging a Tiatr.
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