The earliest recorded form of theatre was in Greece where it was used as a form of worship to appease the Greek god of wine and fertility, Dionysus. Although the origin of the performing arts began as a spiritual form to revere and please the gods, this form of theatre lacked structure. It was only later, when Thespis of Icaria introduced a fundamental structure to performing, theatre was born. Thespis would soon be regarded as the first stage actor by Aristotle himself, as he portrayed a character as opposed to using his own persona. Thespis achieved this by use of masks. These masks, which paid reverence to Melopene, the muse of tragedy and Thalia, the muse of comedy, would later be a universal symbol of comedy and tragedy all over the world.
This new style was called tragedy, and Thespis was the most popular exponent of it. Paying respect to Thespis, the first actor, stage actors take pride in calling themselves Thespians.
Natya Shastra describes ten classifications of drama ranging from one act to ten acts. It is addressed to the playwright, the director, and the actor, because according to Bharata Muni, these three were inseparable in the creation of a drama. Theatre in India started as a narrative form, with recitation, singing and dancing becoming integral elements of theatre. This emphasis on narrative elements made our theatre essentially theatrical right from the beginning.
That is why the theatre in India has encompassed all the other forms of literature and fine arts into its physical presentation: literature, mime, music, dance, movement, painting, sculpture and architecture - all mixed into one and being called ‘Natya’ or Theatre in English.
Portuguese for “theatre”, the tiatr form of musical theatre is popular in Goa. The story of tiatr is an interesting one. In the late 1800s, a person named Agostino came to Mumbai from Goa for better job prospects. After landing a job in an Italian theatre company in Mumbai, Agostino travelled with the theatre group around the country for its various performances. When the theatre company went back, Agostino was left with a lot of the costumes that were used on the tours. He took this prized collection to Goa and started the tiatr genre as we know it today. Until tiatr, the theatre in Goa was largely folk-like and Agostino was determined to give it a more sophisticated feel, making it more relevant to the colonial era.
The themes of the time were largely nationalist in flavour and the story writing was simple. A very important component of the genre is the music. The plays are all musicals and the experience comprises brass sections, Latin influences and energetic melodies that carried the story forward.
Tiatr is also known for its use of side shows. These are short shows that are staged in front of the curtain, traditionally used as a distraction while the set changes behind the scenes. They are often unrelated to the larger plot and tend to employ irreverent satire to keep the audiences entertained.
Over the years, tiatr has remained more or less true to its origin, the flip side being that it is often viewed as being too massy.
Physical theatre is a genre of theatre pieces that explore and highlight physical aspects of performance. While it may be used to describe a variety of different performance styles and forms, it is often used to refer to performances that involve extensive physical training. These may include dance-theatre, acrobatics, circus, stage combat, mask work, buffoons, clowning, mime or the accentuated or stylised physical characterisations that are associated with melodrama or Greek tragedy. The term, physical theatre, is sometimes used to refer to the use of the physical body as a form or canvas that artists use to inscribe or express the creative and conceptual images associated with body art and performance art.