Street Plays – A Means of Spreading Awareness

Posted on August 11, 2011 in Culture-Vulture

By Tushar Malica:

Theatre and India share a long relation dating back to about 5000 years. The earliest form of theatre being the Sanskrit theatre. Bharata’s ‘Natya Shastra’ was the one of the earliest play enacted in India. With subsequent conquests by Moghuls , the British and the likes,  theatre also transformed. It was influenced  as deeply as our food, art and language. From being a combined form of narrating a story with the help of acting , dancing and reciting ; it has branched out from expansive and costly stage theatres to bare minimum street play. Street theatre involves presentation in outdoor public spaces without a specific and paying audience but a fairly large group. These spaces can be anywhere, including malls, car parks, street corners et al. These plays may address serious issues like HIV/AIDS, family planning, corruption, saving the girl child etc. The actors who perform the street theatre maybe people lacking means for a big hall and proper audience, organized theatre companies or groups that want to send across a social message or to advertise their mainstream work. We all love to be entertained. What could be more intelligent than mixing entertainment with an attempt to change the society?

In recent years street theatre has picked up pace and has acquired an image of a more moral nature with just the right kind of fun. Better known as ‘nukad natak’ today, is perhaps the best way to connect with the common man and the youth. These are much intimate, brief, direct and address the social/political message head-on with the help of drama. The catchy phrases and songs, crisp script, humor and loudness help in making a long lasting and powerful effect on viewers. These plays if targeted towards youth can really stir up emotions, create awareness and lead the way towards positive change. Nukad nataks are an important tool in creating awareness, empowering the youth and utilizing our right to freedom of speech and expression positively. This colloquial form of drama connects with the youth instantly. The lack of properness and formal atmosphere adds to its appeal and gives it a real lifelike look.  It not only enlightens people but gives us, the citizens to voice our opinion too. These plays have similar impact like Mark Antony’s speech on Julius Caesar’s death. The stirred up crowd and their displayed and fuelled up emotions may be considered parallel, plays having to do more with our mind.  Similar to the results of Mark Antony’s funeral speech, these plays have the strength to start a social revolution. This enthusiasm if used in the correct manner can lead to drastic changes in our society. Changes we wish for. Changes that make us blame the government for mishandling the affairs concerning our nation. It’s all up in our head-right in our brain- the change. Changes in society does not mean only having enough capital for putting up street lights for women’s safety but it is about thinking or better, having the attitude of not adding to the problem and helping people mitigating the situation. Change in society comes with the change in the mindset of the people and street plays can rightly achieve that goal.

As youth is a country’s tomorrow, making them the target audience is a great idea for bringing about a change. Hence, issues that parents miss out on discussing with their children or topics that haunt our youth in general can be tackled through these street plays and change the society slowly into a better place to live in.