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A talent for the funny

Young tiatrist Melanie Fernandes has had the audience in splits in her recent performance in the tiatr ‘College Life’

JP Pereira

Soft spoken and gentle with a ready smile, young tiatrist Melanie Fernandes can however make the audience roar with laughter as she did recently in the impressive tiatr ‘College Life’ by Mario Menezes.

With the support of her mother, Celina, the young girl has always been encouraged to do her best and make good use of her talent. A student of St Xavier’s College in Mapusa, she is originally from Assolna and now living in Guirim, Bardez. This happened to have an advantage. “I gave an audition for a tiatr when I was studying in St Anthony’s High School, Guirim. I was the only one who could talk in the Salcette (Saxtti) accent. And since comedy is usually done with a Saxtti accent, I bagged the comedian’s role. It was a childhood dream come true!” she says, adding that she always wished to act on the Konkani stage.

Acting and singing are her two passions. “I am grateful to my school as I was moulded and encouraged to act and sing. It began here and I grabbed the opportunity with both hands to showcase my talent,” she happily recounts.

Fernandes then went on to be cast in writer and director Marciano Noronha’s tiatr ‘Ami Lhaan Te Vhodd’ and later in ‘Gorjechem’ at the Annual Children’s Tiatr competition organised by Tiatr Academy Goa (TAG), to promote young talent. Her big break on the commercial stage however came when Mario Menezes began looking for a girl to replace his main female comedian in ‘100%’, as the latter had to leave the show due to pressing demands. The tiatr at that time was running to packed houses. A sprightly youngster was needed to do the amusing part of the ‘English’ speaking peon of the school. The role was quite challenging as the dialogues had a lot of English words, which were used in the wrong context at times and had to be translated to Konkani. Fernandes was picked and did the role in great style. She continued with Menezes Theatre in ‘College Life’ and kept the audience in good humour till the very end, with dialogues that were equally funny.

While she has only done comedy so far and even bagged two awards for best comedian (for ‘Gorjechem’ in 2015 at Children’s Tiatr Festival by TAG, and  for ‘100%’ in 2018 at the TAG annual Tiatr competition respectively), Fernandes is keen to
branch out.

 “I feel I am ready for more challenging roles in tiatr. I want to be a complete actor and do some serious roles that could make the audience cry. I would also like to surprise them with negative roles,” she says,  “but comedy is my forte”.

And she credits her mother and brother, Byron, as her pillars of support. “I would not be able to do all this without their help and am grateful for all the love and encouragement I have received. I was born to act and I will continue to showcase my talent for I need to gift what I received as a gift. This I do by making the audience laugh. It gives a big boost to my confidence too,” she says.

Melanie wants to major in English and plans to teach the subject after completing her Bachelors in Education.  Alongside, she hopes to continue acting. “Educating through entertainment and entertaining the mind through education is my motto and my goal. I want to continue this rich Goan tradition of educating through tiatr. God be praised and thanked for this talent that He has given me for free,” she says.

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