Why do we need social change? What role does theatre play with bringing the change? Everyone wants to change the world, free the world from the evils such as Racial discrimination, Gender inequality, physical abuse, violation of human rights, Substance abuse and many more. The list is too long. What we as a society is doing for this? We as a society are trying and working hard on how we want to stop this and remove this from society. It’s not easy how it looks but worth trying. It just needs people to come together and stand for injustice in society. And who is helping for this unification? Theatre, it brings people together irrespective of their gender, caste, class or nationality. It is not only a part of performing art but also a medium to reach out to people. Theatre is used as a tool to communicate diverse perspectives with a variety of people. From depicting various issues like equality, mental health, human trafficking, rape culture, etc.
“Theatre is a form of knowledge: it should and can also be a means of transforming society. Theatre can help us build our future, rather than just waiting for it” (Boal, 1992)
Theatre inspires people to bring change. For instance, Inching Through the Everglades (1978) is an idealistic play with songs about working people in America – their self-image, frustrations, and isolation. The characters tell their own stories directly to the audience, touching on themes of racism, sexism, loneliness, and growing old. Guys and Does– a musical that was premiered which focused on hunting. A survey taken from the audience before and after the performance showed a distinct change in people’s feelings towards hunting. Nirbhaya (2013) was produced right after the December 2012 Nirbhaya incident which left people in shock. It was directed by Yael Farber, who brought outstanding actors even casted actors who had faced sexual abuse at some point of their lives. The play is extremely moving and depicts the idea of what happens to women in a patriarchal society to this day.
Theatre makes the concept reasoned and real for people. It involves the audience emotionally as well as intellectually. The themes used are directly relevant to the audience’s lives and concerns which will affect the audience’s opinions and shape their perspective. In Interactive theatre, where the audience can intervene and offer suggestions on what can be changed to have the situation end differently, engaging the audience shows them that they can be the initiators of change in society. They relate to the scenario and begin to think about the possible solutions that they can bring and change their ability to think. Classic theatre, such as Shakespeare and Moliere, helps people to understand other people around them and how they might be expected to react in certain situations.
Theatre helps one to express their feelings, thoughts, emotions and ideas which are showcased to the society, so that the society knows an individual’s story and what an individual goes through. Theatre creates a free space for yourself, it provides a comfortable environment for both audience and the performers. The issues that a theatre takes for public display are sensitive if the slightest mistake can create chaos among the community. But it’s the team working for the show to happen makes it possible and successfully conveys the right message to the society. Theatre is a collaborative art which brings people together. Theatre is not just for entertainment but also means to educate and make the people think about the society they live in.