Folk Theatre

The word `folk’ talks about the traditions practiced by small homogeneous groups, their localized lifestyle and history dates back to the traditional theatrical performances. The art form, belonging to the oral literature, celebrates the social and religious ceremonies. The primary importance is of the dramatization incorporated with songs and dance. Long time back Bharatmuni’s Natyashastra , A Treatise on Theatre represented the classical antiquity of the Sanskrit theatre. Later theatre started representing the regional sphere. The folk culture has a rich legacy. Every region have their individual art forms. It started nearly in 17th century. The dramatic imitation gave rise to various regional art forms. The theatre troupes got engaged with various forms of entertainment. One such example is when sutradhar or the puppeteer engages in the enactment through vocal and physical techniques.Thejourney initiated by Bharatmuni and Patanjali , developed into a new form of organization.
In Bengal Jatraa, Pala gaan, Bolan, Gajan and Chau dance became notable forms of entertainment. Jatraa is an open air performance with instruments like dhol and kartal, it is also performed in some parts of Bihar and Orissa. Earlier it was a all men plays, then women also started involving in the performances. Bhavai is a Gujrati folk theatre performance . It is of varying lengths and varying themes, perfomed with singing and dancing. Tamasha is the Maharashtrian form of folk theatre. Tamasha is a basic form of entertainment which has a bawdy content but now it is refined with tastes of middle class and upper middle society. The urgency to confine by the societal constraints sometimes affects the regional dynamics and tries to incorporate the sophistication of Modern theatre. Three other forms of folk theatre prevalent in South India are Burrakatha, Cavittu Natakam and Veethi Nataka . Burrakatha, is a form from Andhra Pradesh. The ’burra’ is like an observer who tells the story. a pumpkin headed man utters the katha. Cavittu natakam is a Christian dance drama which is performed by companies from Central Kerela. Veethi nataka is a street drama performance. The stories from Shiva tales and Puranic stories are depicted by these troupes. The North Indian theatre form celebrates the importance of song and music. Khayal Nautanki, Manch ,Bhagat are all forms of theatrical depictions. Yakshagana performance is a popular art form of Karnataka. Carnatic music, rich costumes, and storylines based on The Mahabharata and The Ramayana are perfomed . Kathakali dancers are the strolling participants of this art form. Today these art forms continue to cater and attract the audience while dramatized to show the Indian traditional dogmas and social practices.
By Soumita Das