Community Theatre Essay

1804 Words8 Pages
What is Community Theatre? Community theatre has different roots and functions related to its cultural, social and political setting and its purpose in those specific environments. In some cases it may be that community rituals and stories, often deeply embedded in cultural traditions, are performed as an integral part of defining and celebrating a community’s cultural and spiritual identity. Some of the latter date back for many centuries but continue to be performed in spite of the fact that the factors dealt with within the drama have become objects of heritage rather than contemporary life . Other forms of community theatre have political intent, to inform and energise a community in bringing change or in asserting human rights, Theatre for Development in Africa for example or Purna Chandra Rao’s work in Hyderabad, India supporting peasants’ land rights against rapacious landowners. It can also be dangerous. Rao’s fellow-countryman, theatre activist Safdar Hashmi, was beaten to death while performing a street play Halla Bol during municipal elections in the Jhandapur Sahibabad area on January 1, 1989 . Alternatively, the exciting work of ‘Z Divadlo’ in the small town of Zeleneč, Slovakia, combines amateur community actors with the expertise of a professional director, Jozef Bednárik to perform original work. In Brazil, the work of Marcia Pompêo Nogueira and Beatrice Cabral resonates in communities, some of which are in danger of losing their cultural identify through the arrival of electricity and television. The continuum stretches, therefore, from radical activist theatre to benign celebration. What it excludes is most of the middle-of-the-road amateur dramatics commonly referred to as ‘community theatre’ in the USA. Radical theatre for change has an extensive history in the UK. Given that most authoritarian governments are of the
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