Procession: Idea of Stage Performance

Badal Sircar’s plays were the reaction to the proscenium theatre and the first (urban) as it is full of artificiality and hence, he believed Theatre in the urban centres are an elite minority. He often accused the theatre of romanticising the rural landscape. And the second (folk) theatre. Most of his plays were directed by himself. He was, hence, very well acquainted with the kind of performances.

The play procession is also directed by him. It posed a challenge to the spectator’s imagination when it was performed. Badal Sircar being the playwright, director and performer gave a thought that his plays should be attended by all the public irrespective of their financial conditions. He did not commercialise his plays. Sircar wanted to make public aware about his ideologies. His main concern was for the ordinary public, poor people which encompassed most of the population of India

The cut-throat competition was brought in by the technological advancement during the era. Public started to prefer cinema instead theatre due to its comparative high cost. And hence cinema was becoming a predominant media to reach to the public with all its luxurious richness. In such circumstances, Badal Sircar pondered over the issues like use of props, elaborate lighting, expensive costumes, stage decoration, and stars etc. It was all very costly affair and difficult to manage with the meagre income. He determined to offer something real which cinema cannot offer and it’s the concept of ‘live show’. He rejected all these for a noble cause and he started his own Muktmanch (open / free theatre) for all. Sircar firmly believed, there had to be a real close connection between what is happening on the stage and the emotions of the spectators.

Badal Sircar changed the setting of his plays in the Third Theatre. He believed that architecture of proscenium theatre appears to be all wrong. He explained that all spectators on one side pushing the last row far, which affected the last rows’ audiences’ comprehension of the play. And hence to resolve this issue he put the spectators on all sides of the theatre. He brought the stage performers at the level of the spectators. It made easy for performers to get the spectators feedback immediately. Feedback from both the spectators and the performers played a significant role in Sircar’s plays.

He firmly advocated establishing the direct communication between both the parties. There were three types of communication happening in his plays: performer to performer; performer to spectator; and spectator to spectator. Badal Sircar bridged the gap between the two and closely connected with the drama which was going on the stage. Badal Sircar made every aspect of the theatre live by introducing very innovative concepts in his Third Theatre. The special feature of this theatre was it was not at all expensive for spectators. Anyone can watch the plays which were performed in this Theatre. Badal Sircar believed and proved “Theatre is a human event, cinema is not” by bringing the ‘live event’ on stage.

The play Procession was performed throughout India and it charged nothing to the audience. The performance of the play happened on the stage surrounded by audiences. Badal Sircar in his venture, attracted many youngsters during the 1970s. For Sircar tried to project the actual reality on the Indian stage. It was a period of all socio-political upheaval in India. The set trends were rooted out. New concepts were coming into existence during the period. This small group of people led by Badal Sircar shun the proscenium performances. They introduced the concept of Anganmanch. Anganmanch (backyard of house) was used to perform the plays.

So, no requirement of specific theatre locations. Badal Sircar and his group tried to make theatre free for all public.

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