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Alkazi Theatre Archives

A Bibliographic Listing from the Archive

Voice to the Voiceless: The Power of Peoples Theatre in India

Book: Voice to the Voiceless: The Power of Peoples Theatre in India
Written by: Jacob Srampickal
Published by: Hurst and Company, 1994

The book, ‘Voice to the Voiceless: The Power of People’s Theatre in India’ begins by charting the significant role of people’s theatre in fostering development, especially through the exploration of India’s street and folk theatre. The author, Jacob Srampickal delves into the ways in which street and social action theatre groups have upheld the folk traditions amidst changing socio-political circumstances in India.

In the first chapter, the book engages in unraveling the notion of theatre as a live experience in the context of the Third World. Referring to the theories such as Dependency Theory and Freire’s Theory of Conscientization and their applications, the author analyzes how theatre can contribute to the development process and facilitate social change in the third world.
The second chapter explores the origins and development of Popular Theatre as a medium for fostering development on a global scale. The chapter also discusses how theatre has been utilized as a tool to promote the ideals of socialism. The third chapter underscores the influential role of folk theatre as the primary means of communication in folk cultures. Focusing on the folk forms of India, the chapter explores the content and regional variations of folk theatre, showcasing its significance in shaping popular theatre. The fourth chapter emphasizes that street theatre is a continuation of folk theatre, discussing the contributions of IPTA, Third Theatre, Jana Natya Manch, and others. The fifth chapter specifically studies theatre groups from villages of Bihar while the last chapter presents a critique of some of the approaches within popular theatre; for instance, the author argues that the street theatre oversimplifies serious subjects, neglecting the use of visual objects and imagery in conveying messages effectively.

“To what extent can popular theatre be a true continuation of community performance traditions at the local level? Can activists and animateurs belonging to the middle class provide genuine leadership among the rural masses?” (p.210)

Voice of the voiceless