Traditional modes of communication still hold some relevance
They are instrumental in propagating ideas and information especially to far-flung areas where modern media finds it harder to reach.
Further traditional media still has more potential to seep in important messages and ideas to society. One such form of traditional media is street theatre.
Street Theatre is a type of theatrical performance and presentation that takes place in public locations without a paid audience. It is used as a means of communication to disseminate social and political themes and to raise awareness among the general public.
Concerning today’s major societal concerns amateur street theatre productions at the grassroots level have grown popular in community organizing, public health campaigns, and education campaigns. Initiatives all throughout the world themes of street plays have evolved over time. From nationalism to capitalism, peasant and labor movements, environmental issues, communalism, women’s sexual harassment, and domestic violence, to name a few.
Emancipation of the working class
In the early twentieth century, street theatre developed as a means of emancipating the working class and reinforcing revolution against established power. Its journey began in India, primarily by left-wing theatre activists, during the anti-colonial struggle.
Although street theatre is closely related to folk theatre as a form, it is more of a social communication process with a participatory attitude than a basic art form. The purpose of this article is to examine the function and possibilities of street theatre as a vehicle for community development and social transformation.
During the European Industrial Revolution, laborers and party workers began composing and acting in street plays. Women began actively participating and participating in street plays in the next century, during the Suffragette Movement in London.
During the Russian Revolution, what began as a means of expressing political thoughts and opinions evolved into a tool for teaching the rural masses. When World War II broke out, the street theatre began speaking out for the anti-war movement, and the attitude toward promoting liberal socio-political revolution persisted and spread throughout America and England.
Street theatre was seen being used as a tool of expression against the Vietnam war, racial discrimination, etc.
India was not far behind in experimenting with unfettered street performance for the masses. Although a variety of art forms have existed in distant locations for centuries as folk theatre, mostly for enjoyment, it was during the battle for independence that street theatre took on a distinct form for encouraging patriotism and igniting a surge in nationalism.
The street theatre, which began as a means of empowering Indians to fight for their rights, has not only maintained its popularity as a popular mass medium despite competition from electronic media but has also expanded its reach from distant villages to major cities.
Street theatre has become one of the most popular mediums for social communicators to communicate messages, from social activists and NGOs to student unions, artists, and even corporate executives.
Role of Indian People’s Theatre Association
In 1943, the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) pioneered the first organised street theatre in India, with the goal of propagating their beliefs on liberalism and teaching the masses about the repercussions of imperialism.
The history of the street theatre movement in India began with IPTA, which later extended across the country despite geographical and cultural hurdles. Women’s issues, children’s health and education, communism, and economic liberation have all been prominent themes in street plays.