Badal Sircar’s Concept of ‘The Third Theatre’

Badal Sircar’s dissatisfaction with the First theatre i.e. Indian conventional Folk Theatre, Second Theatre (Urban) and the Proscenium Theatre, led him to form his own new Theatre and that he called it as the ‘Third Theatre”. Folk Theatre was still busy with only the folk forms and the second theatre was engages with the projection of an urban life which was a minor population. Therefore, Badal Sircar believed a true Theatre of the people, therefore, would have to go where the majority of population lives. ‘Badal Sircar Theatre’ was considered as an experimental and alternative as it took radical departure from these well establish naturalists’ theatres.

Sircar wanted to establish such a theatre where he could project his anger against the colonisers’ exploitation of Indians and hence in his ‘Third Theatre’ he reacted and opposed the colonisers’ language. He felt that English language cannot convey his objectives to the masses exactly as he wanted. Hence, he adopted his mother tongue- Bangla for his plays. Of course, later his plays got translated in English by others. His popular plays which were translated: EbongIndrajit (1963), Michhil (1974), Bhoma (1976), Sukhapathya Bharter, BakiItihas (1976), Hattamalar Uparey (1977), There is No End (1970) and Basi Khabar (1979) were written in Bengali language. These plays emphasise on meaningless existence of commoners, their struggle for the survival, the declining human values. He intended to make aware the down trodden classes of their exploitation by the bourgeois classes.

Sircar, through his new Theatre introduced a novel turn to the Indian Theatre. It was a theatre which had taken its foundation from both the First and the Second Theatre but with his own unique style. He made his dramas/ plays as ‘live performance’. His scripts were performative scripts and hence very dynamic, multifaceted, multidimensional, multi-layered instead of rigid or limited and confined. The Third Theatre suited the post-independence environment and the changes that were taking place in and around India.

Badal Sircar realised the Proscenium Theatre was insufficient to bring all the liveliness of modern life and hence tried to enhance the relations between the performers and the spectators. The new theatre, he felt should not create an illusion of reality, but must project reality itself. Sircar intended the performers and the spectators must share the same space and acknowledge each other’s presence. The theatre was completely indispensable on the performers’ body on the one hand, and the spectators’ imagination on the other end.

The three major features of Sircar’s Third Theatre were its free of cost, portability, flexibility. Sircar never charged for the performances, only at the end of each performance, the group was requesting for charity and generous contributions by the spectators. The charity used to be the income source for planning of next performance. Badal Sircar never used props or any other costly material for the performances. His plays touched the inner self and emotions of the audience.

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