Essay on Street Theatre

Street theatre is a form of theatrical performance and presentation in outdoorpublic spaceswithout a specific paying audience. These spaces can be anywhere, includingshopping centers,car parks, recreational reserves, college or university campus and street corners. They are especially seen in outdoor spaces where there are large numbers of people. The actors, who perform street theatre range frombuskersto organized theatre companies or groups that want to experiment with performance spaces, or to promote their mainstream work.

It was a source of providing information to people when there were no sources of providing information like television, radio etc. Nowadays, street play is used to convey a message to the crowd watching it. Street play is considered to be the rawest form of acting, because one does not have a microphone or loud speakers. Sometimes performers are commissioned, especially for street festivals, children’s shows or parades, but more often street theatre performers are unpaid or gather some income through the dropping of a coin in a hat by the audience.

The logistics of doing street theatre make use of simple costumes and props, and often there is little or no amplification of sound, with actors depending on their natural vocal and physical ability. The performances need to be highly visible, loud and simple to follow in order to attract a crowd.

Street theatre should be distinguished from other more formal outdoor theatrical performances, such as performances in a park or garden, where there is a discrete space set aside (or roped off) and a ticketed audience. In some cases, street theatre performers have to get alicenseor specific permission through local or state governments in order to perform.

Street theatre is arguably the oldest form of theatre in existence: most mainstream entertainment mediums can be traced back to origins in street performing, including religious passion

plays and many other forms. More recently performers who, a hundred years ago, would have made their living working in variety theatres, music halls and in vaudeville, now often perform professionally in the many well-known street performance areas throughout the world. Notable performers that began their careers as street theatre performers include Robin Williams, David Bowie, Jewel and Harry Anderson.

Street theatre allows people who might not have ever been to, or been able to afford to go to, traditional theatre. The audience is made up of anyone and everyone who wants to watch and for most performances is free entertainment. Performance artists with an interest in social activism may choose to stage their work on the street as a means of directly confronting or engaging the public.

A character-based street theatre which developed in the 1960s and 1970s was developed by groups like Lumiere and Son, John Bull Puncture Repair Kit, Exploded Eye and Natural Theatre Company. The performances were unannounced and featured characters who acted out a pre-arranged scenario, looking beautiful or surreal or simply just involving passers-by in conversation. They did not seek to trick in a Candid Camera way, but rather invited the audience to pretend along with them. No amount of planning or rehearsal could dictate what would happen.

Another example would be Natural Theatre’s Pink Suitcase scenario. A number of smartly dressed people carrying bright pink suitcases enter a set of streets or buildings. They search for and miss their companions. In their search they get on buses, hail cabs, end up in shop windows, etc. By the time they meet up at a pre- arranged spot with the help of passers-by, perceptions of the area have changed and shopping has ceased for at least a few moments. The humor is universal and this piece has been seen in nearly seventy countries. It is usually performed by four or five actors, but has been done with twenty-five.

Street plays or the street theatres however also evolved in the early 20th century as a tool to emancipate the working class and reinforce revolution against the established power. Its journey began in India during the time of anti-colonial struggle, essentially by the left-wing theatre activists. Performance artists with an interest in social activism may choose to stage their work on the street as a means of directly confronting or engaging the public. Other factors include reaching to the most people who cannot afford to buy a stage ticket for their entertainment. Street plays mostly focus to boost the ideology of a special section of people who have no connection to education or moral etiquettes.


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