Street plays involve demonstration in outdoor public spaces without a paying audience. These spaces can be anywhere, including malls, car parks, street corners, college campuses and the like. These plays propagate social and political messages to create awareness amongst the people regarding social issues like AIDS, sexual and physical abuse, mental health, corruption, saving the girl child etc. The actors aim to send across social messages to the population via slogans and dialogues that are interactive.
Street plays are a form of communication. It breaks the formal barriers and approaches the audience directly. It has also been used as a political weapon during elections. Issues concerning women are an important theme in street plays and have been so for a long time. Other themes highlight caste conflicts or issues about hygiene and health. There have been various plays on the environment that project a beautiful relationship of trust and friendship between humans and nature. Street theatre is also used as a means to encourage literacy in rural areas.
Street plays communicate social messages to the people by illustrating the realities of daily life. It’s not just a form of entertainment anymore but has evolved as a meaningful art form for creating social awareness amongst the masses. It’s an intimate and effective method to get one’s thoughts and ideologies across to the population. With social media being such an influential part of everyone’s life, the sharing of video extracts of street plays has become very common, creating a larger reach for the talented actors.
In recent years street plays have picked up pace and have acquired a more moral nature with just the right kind of entertainment. Better known as ‘nukad natak’ today, it’s the ideal way to connect with the common man and especially the youth. These plays when targeted towards youth, stir up real emotions, create awareness and lead the way towards a positive change. Nukad nataks are an important tool to empower the youth and to utilize our right to freedom of speech and expression in the right way. It’s an effective way to connect with the youth of today. The lack of a formal atmosphere adds to the appeal of street plays. It not only enlightens the population but gives the citizens a way to voice their opinion too. The enthusiasm created through these plays can lead to drastic changes in our society. Change in society will come only when there’s a change in the mindset of the people and street plays can possibly achieve that goal.