Street is a stage

Highlighting issues

Street is a stage

In an era where everyone  and everything is just the click of a mouse away,  communication among people has become somewhat of a problem. Especially when it involves getting a message across.

At times like these, street plays act as an effective medium to address social
issues as well as political and societal affairs. In their unique formats, these plays have been successful in highlighting various causes and have proved themselves to be a powerful platform  for the common man.

The simple costumes and props are accompanied by loud voices and enactments;  sometimes even followed by drums beats and dance. This  form of theatrical performance garners a lot of publicattention, even without a specific target audience. And Bengaluru has seen a rising
interest in this form of ‘open space’ art, especially among college students.

Uma Prasad, a student of Jyoti Nivas College, has been an active participant in various street plays organised by her  department. She says that  people need immediate gratification today and street plays help them achieve that.

“Communicating a strong message in a simple way is the biggest advantage that these  kind of performances have. The two most popular street plays that I was part of about the role of emoticons on the younger generation and how people stereotype others on basis of the community they belong to,” says Uma.

These plays, she says, gained a lot of attention and positive feedback from the
audience. Though she has performed them within the college campus, Uma hopes to go out on the streets one day and enact a script that will have a bigger impact on the public.

So how important are street plays in today’s time? ‘They are extremely important and impactful’, says Ankita Chatterjee, who is a member of the ‘Hashmi Theatre Forum’.

She adds, “They gain prominence due to the fact that there is still a large number of people who are not literate enough to read the newspaper to keep themselves updated. They are the ones who are taken advantage of. Street plays help us to demonstrate an issue and call attention to  serious incidents. These performances are so entertaining, they grasp a lot of
attention and help in informing people about many things,” explains Ankita.

The final year student of St Joseph’s College of Commerce says that they usually perform  street plays to raise awareness among people who are oblivious of certain political, social or cultural incidences.
But it not always a smooth sailing for these roadside performers. Ankita says that there  have also been times when they have got into trouble.

People who are ideologically different oppose and interrupt these acts and try to stop them from performing. “Street plays were very popular earlier but today most proponents have given up on this art, considering the difficulties that have to go through to get the permissions and necessary approvals from authorities. Artistes have given up on communicating a social issue, because if the society doesn’t want to change, then   there is no point,” she explains.
Some of the most impactful street plays that Ankita and her group has performed are about contemporary issues like the Cauvery water issue and the ‘Peenya Trade Union’ incident.

Vaibhav Shah, a final year student of St Joseph’s College of Commerce, who has been a part of both regular and street plays, says he has performed in public places like Brigade Road, M G Road and so on as well as various intercollegiate fests.  “We do plays themed on  recent happenings that have influenced the city in some way or the other. Following the New Year’s incident, my most recent play was about a  women-centric issue. Street plays are a great way to attract public attention and convey a message that is bothering an individual and the society at large,” says Vaibhav.

Vivek Venkatraghvan, a final year student, says that he used to be a part of all the street plays in college. According to him, these performances have created a lot of positive impact on the  public.

“The actions and noises one makes during the performance attracts a lot attention which helps us to pass on a rather serious message in the most subtle way,” he says.
He points out that theimpact of these street plays is also influenced by the kind of audience that is attracted. If a play attracts people who are concerned about social change and awareness, it will have a bigger impact.

“Due to college competitions that have included street plays as a subject, the awareness of about them are coming back. If the public gives you five minutes of their time, you know you are making it work,” sums up Vivek.

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