Indian Folk Theatre :
Indian folk theatre can actually be divided into two broad categories - the religious and the secular. While the religious folk theatres mainly evolved from stories from history, religion and myth and the secular folk theatre actually emerged as a typical form of entertainment. The two forms like the religious and the secular folk theatre therefore started working together whilst influencing each other to create a fresh type of Indian natya.
Every state in India has its own distinctive form of folk theatre. Variously known as
the Jatra in Orissa, Bengal and Eastern Bihar, Tamasha in Maharashtra, Nautanki in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab, Bhavai in Gujarat, Yakshagana in Karnataka and
Therukuttu in Tamil Nadu, Indian folk theatre with its sheer vibrancy since the age-
old days has reached out to all. Artistically, folk theatre in India eloquently portrayed
the ‘nine rasas’ of the Indian drama. Chhau, Lion dance, Kuchipudi, Santhal dance, all
contributed in weaving that magic of Indian folk theatre which not only stood out as an eminent theatre pattern but also depicted life, love, death, virtues and vice.
The typical concept of stage designing of folk theatre in India once again points towards its simplicity. The actors of the Indian folk theatre generally perform on a makeshift
stage. This supports them in conversing with the audience during the course of the play
as audience participation is an essential part of Indian folk theatre. The stage for the folk
theatres is generally a colossal empty space, which the actors skillfully control and use to
complement their dialogues and symbolic gestures. Elaborate make-up, masks, chorus,
loud music and folk dance are indeed the hallmark of Indian folk theatre.
With its sheer vitality therefore, Indian folk theatre is just not a theatre form but a lot more. It is the chronicle of Indian drama where for the very first time, theatre broke the barrier of orchestra and pits and reached the masses in a whole new way through the brilliance of music, song and folklore.
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