Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Theatre as a Vehicle for Social Change

People’s Theatre

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.   


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 is the first art to confront conflict, shadows and silence to make words, movement, lights and life surge forth.”

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 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. 

‘Community’ Radio'

community radio

In terms of reach and access, India’s print and broadcast media is strong:  Approximately 60% of urban Indians and 25% of rural Indians read print media on a regular basis, and 96% of the country is reached by radio”An essential component of community media is community . Sociology defines community as a space where a group of interacting people live. Community radio, thus is a type of radio service, that serves a particular community either geographical or communes and are also run by that community. An essential feature of community media is that since it is completely free from the clutches of the market, profit motive  community radio derives its genesis from the fundamental principles of democracy necessarily entailing equal and active participation in civic affairs and freedom of speech and expression. 

Community radio therefore caters to the interest of the deprived or the socially marginalized of for that matter the tribal groups. It is thus obvious to the point of banality that the low level of literacy rates and even lower awareness towards the society is definitely a handicap for them. It is therefore, quite difficult for these people to connect to the larger framework of national and international issues of importance shown in the news channels.

Open Source Community Radio #3 | Joe Miles
Importance of community Radio
  • Community radio is the most viable option  that most of them would not be in a position to use the print form of community media. 
  • It would  be feasible for them to connect viably with issues pertaining to their own neighborhood broadcast  in their own native language. 
  • It provides a platform for the local people or groups to tell their own stories, share their experiences and thus become active contributors and participants of the media.  In this way, people become creators of their own community specific media.
  • Social awareness programmes and health care measures can also be articulated to the people by means of community media

 In many parts of the world, community radio acts as a vehicle for the community and voluntary sector, civil society, agencies, NGOs & citizens to work in partnership to further community development as well as broadcasting aims.

The first community-based radio station

. The first community-based radio station, licensed to an NGO was launched on 15 October 2008, when ‘Sangham Radio‘ in Pastapur village, Medak district, Andhra Pradesh state, It was switched on.Sangham Radio, which broadcasts on 90.4 MHz, is licensed to Deccan Development Society (DDS), an NGO that works with women’s groups in about 75 villages of Andhra Pradesh. Thus, community radio acts a source of effective communication  on various developmental works that are on and their implications for the local residents. 

Anna FM is India’s first campus ‘community’ radio

Anna FM is India’s first campus ‘community’ radio, launched on 1 February 2004, which is run by Education and Multimedia Research Centre (EM²RC), and all programmes are produced by the students of Media Sciences at Anna University. The main thrust areas where the campus community radio generally focuses on are issues relating to health, education, career, stress management, interpersonal relationship between parents and children, lectures, workshops etc.
It also spreads awareness among the college students regarding the living conditions of slum dwellers thriving around the campus. The students may broadcast different community based programmes with the help of community based members residing in adopted slum areas and community residing grounds. Students are therefore important stakeholders in carrying out the process of spreading awareness which is an important function of any community radio.The Anna FM 90.4 also airs programs on environment, health and rural development. .

The principal functions of community radio 

  • To reflect and promote local identity, character and culture by focusing principally on local content. Culture is how the people of a community talk about their past and their future. Culture is infinitely variable and constantly evolving. Community culture is also artistic expression through local music, dance, poetry, theatre and story telling. Culture is also language, so programming includes the languages of any minority groups in the community. 
  • To create a diversity of voices and opinions on the air through its openness to participation from all sectors. Some discord is present in all communities, but the acknowledgement of con- flict is necessary for democracy and for democratic communities. Community radio tries to air objectively all sides of a discussion without itself taking sides.
  • • To encourage open dialogue and democratic process by providing an independent platform for interactive discussion about matters and decisions of importance to the community. Community radio provides the forum  to bring democratic decision-making closer to the people concerned.

  • To promote social change and development. In marginalized communities people all have their individual perceptions about their situation, but  for change and development need a  collective perception of the local reality and of the options for improving it. This collective perception can only be achieved through internal discussions to analyse specific problems, identify possible solutions, and mobilize the appropriate people or groups for action. Community radio provides the perfect platform for this internal discussion.

  •  To promote good governance and civil society by playing a community watchdog role that makes local authorities and politicians more conscious of their public responsibilities. The community radio gives them a voice to air their grievances and obtain their due rights.

  •  Some other functions of community radio include: sharing of information and innovation; giving a voice to the voiceless, especially to women and young people in some societies; and providing a social service as a replacement for the telephone.