An afternoon of Konkani comedy

Cast photo (left to right):
Gaurav Anand, Agnelo Gracias, Yolanda Gracias, Anita Pereira, Samson Santimano, Serah Barbosa

On Sept 25th 2018, the 55 Plus Goan Association – West GTA Inc. seniors social club held its Fall Cultural Afternoon. For the last few years the event as featured skits in the Konkani language. This year, two short pieces, ‘Ragan Kazar Morgan Divorce’ and ‘Ekech Ratri (One Night Only)’, were preformed. The work was funny, and the afternoon proved to be quite enjoyable.

Club Cultural Secretary, Samson Santimano, produced the performances. He was writer and one of the lead actors. Agnelo Gracias, director of the cast, was the other lead and both played well off each other. Their hammed up dialogue and gestures had the audience rolling.

The stage sets were sparse which nicely contrasted the melodramatic clothes worn by the actors. The scripts were short and crisp, and were executed in Konkani using an abundant number of colloquialisms and the kind of pronunciation that was very recognizable to assembled spectators. English sentences and expressions were interwoven so young people and guests could follow the gist of the storyline.

Local character actors provided support. Yolanda Gracias brilliantly captured the essence of a Goan woman of a certain age and status. Her acting talent is buttressed by her unique ability to collect and parade an audacious wardrobe and equally ostentatious set of, sometimes matching, sometimes clashing, fashion accessories.

The charming Serah Barbosa brought her unique presence to the performance. Serah’s emotional range and capacity allows her to adapt from diva to down-to-earth roles equally well and convincingly. She has a natural aptitude to play directly off leads actors and she can be called to sing in the spotlight when required.

The versatile Anita Pereira supported the main cast. She slipped in contrasting roles and costumes so well that one had to check if an additional performer had taken the stage. Gaurav Anand played a background role. He added a depth to scenes with his reoccurring silence presence.

The sound equipment was provided by Ideal Soundz and was controlled by Nigel D’Souza. Lavalier on-person microphones were worn by the cast, as opposed to the stage-boundary mic system traditionally used by amateur Goan Theatre groups. The portable system provided the opportunity for the cast to modulate their voices to add to the depth of their performance. All of the dialogue, from the smallest whisper to large pronouncements, was transmitted and clearly heard the hall. And when one actor, who had just exited, blurted to the stage manger, ‘Oh my God, I forgot the song’, before returning into light and starting late to the queued music, the inadvertent broadcast added to the comedic effect of the well written script.

The two short plays were well received by an appreciative audience. The afternoon was lively and full of fun. This kind of performance, when done with keenness and regularity, is extremely useful, as it allows producers and directors to workshop new material using a small cast, and allows fledgling writers, actors, and technicians, to experiment and sharpen their talent is a low-pressure environment. Risks can be taken here that may not be appropriate when playing to a house of three repeat shows of 800 expectant fans. This kind of approach to theater is a win-win for both the development of the arts and the community audience.

I’ve been told that the ensemble has been invited to the other side of the city where the Toronto East Goan Seniors Association (TEGSA) will act as hosting partner. They will book a venue, organize ticket collection, and arrange the tiffin-box of a uniquely Konkan combination of appetites for the interval. If you see tickets for sale, grab them. The afternoon, like this one, will likely sell out. •

Includes excerpt of Konkani skit, Ekech Ratri (One Night Only), Samson Santimano, Agnelo Gracias, lead actors. And short interview of Samson Santimano, 55PGA Club Cultural Secretary, who produced the skits.


Photos copyright Goa Culture List (c) 2018. All rights reserved.
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