The theatre is thus a medium, a method, a technique, an art and, above all, a new language in which imagination, discussions, dialogues, lamentations, laughter, Union, dancing and music are elements which shape the creation of the new voice - the voice of the people. Theatre is efficient and effective methods of achieving participation. There are elements among the people that can provide the means, the interest and the individuals for the tasks of self-expression and social change that are involved. A people’s theatre does not mean an art of lower standards, but an art deriving from the people because it is concerned with them. It is not an exotic art or one speaking for minorities. It speaks to the basic human being who struggles to gain his/her daily needs and whose life or death is decided by that struggle.
CATEGORIES OF PEOPLE THEATRE.
The base of the theatre must to ensure that the material and spiritual riches of this earth reach those who should receive them. We can divide popular theatre into three categories.
- Theatre produced by a theatrical group but oriented toward the people. This involves a group of actors, directors and dramatists producing for the community a play which inspires social change. Their objective may be didactic, that is trying to bring to the people some educational message that encourage the audience to tackle the problems that their community faces.
- Theater organized by and for the people, with spectators. A group of people drawn from trade unions, cooperatives and other popular organizations without professional expertise and without departing from its daily tasks, sets up workshops for the peoples theatre. Their social drama and theatrical presentations contain elements drawn from the community and use people from the community. It should analyze the local and national problems, trying to obtain as much information as possible and to provide interpretations of actual events. The work may or may not be written, according to the interests and needs of those concerned. Music, humor, songs and dialogue are used to stimulate the emotive and critical reactions of the spectators.
- Theatre organized by and for the people without spectators. This is a ‘theatre informant’ in which the participation of the public creates the work performed, and in which the action gets through to the spectator and stimulates him/her into becoming an actor and dramatist. This can be done by the members of the community being asked to recount a real sequence of events for which the solution is difficult.
Theatre as a Vehicle for Social Change
There is a growing awareness on the part of theatre workers of the value of theatre and performance art in relation to social change and development. Theatre is increasingly being used as a tool for communicating information and ideas and to spur debate, discussion and bring about conflict resolution.In recognition of the role that theatre plays in development, World Theatre Day is celebrated annually on 27 March.
This day was created in 1961 by an international NGO called International Theatre Institute (ITI). ITI’s aims, namely, promoting the, “International exchange of knowledge and practice in theatre arts in order to consolidate peace and solidarity between people.”
To facilitate development, theatre can be used as a tool when broaching sensitive socio-economic issues in a non-threatening and non-intimidating manner. Ultimately, theatre iis used by the oppressed person as a means of enacting their marginalisation and oppression. “Theatre is a rehearsal for life.”
Theatre can be an effective tool in development programmes:
1. As an entertainment: Can attract and hold the interest of large numbers of people.
2. As an oral medium in local languages: Can involve the poorest groups and classes who are often left out of development activities because of their illiteracy or lack of understanding of other languages.
3. As a dramatic representation of local problems: provides a codification of reality which can be used by the participants in analysing their situation.
4. As a collective expression and communal activity: Creates the context for cooperation rather than individual thinking and action. It creates the possibility for horizontal communication or peer learning rather than topdown one-way communication.