Drama In Education: Suitability Of Badal Sircar’s Third Theatre Model
Badal Sircar is a unique figure as a dramatist. He never compromised with the existing theatre models. He tried genuinely to create of his own model called ‘Third Theatre’. Dissatisfied with the proscenium style, because of its high paraphernalia and commercialisation, he crafted Third Theatre model to perform his plays. This model is absolutely fit to teach many things to people. It is simple to adapt in learning environment.
This paper attempted to analyse the appropriateness or feasibility of Third Theatre form created by Sircar in learning environment. It also made an effort to discuss pros and cons of third theatre technique while using it in Education.
As the aesthetic values and cultural heritage is declining these days in education, it is appreciative to make use of drama in education to inculcate the above. Particularly in India, education becomes the process of memorising the letters and numbers. People are dying to be ranked first in the race. In these days, the process of learning becomes monotonous and it is not provided any interest for creativity. Though some change is happening in this area, still there is much to transform. At the outset, the words of Rabindranath Tagore are recollected as they are perfectly fit to the present context. He remarked, “I never accept that the object of education is simply accumulating knowledge. Education should produce an all-round personality in which the physical, intellectual, aesthetic and spiritual growth would be harmonized into an integral process”. Though, the teaching community and other academic researchers are trying their best to make the process interactive and interesting, in many aspects they fail to create substantial curiosity in learning. They are trying to make education creative and exciting. Many researches are conducted and are being conducted in the field. Introducing drama in learning environment possibly gives a scope to create curiosity and many more. Because, generally speaking, theatre is one of the most powerful medium but least utilized art forms in education. Hence, this can be adapted and practiced to get good results in this area.
Drama has intrinsic value for self-development, aesthetic value as an art form, a transfer agent of learning to other subject areas, and a contributing factor to motivation for learning. As a helping or therapeutic medium, Drama prepares the student for life and provides a ‘mirror for reflection’. Through dramatic action, the participants are empowered to transform themselves and their everyday worlds as a natural process of enactment. It, in the educational context, can be a lively and enjoyable method of exploring and learning about a number of other subjects and can be a separate subject and discipline in its own right. As a learning strategy in other subject areas, it can aid in understanding personal and human experiences, allowing students to enter into the reality of imaginary situations and characters. Students can explore emotions, attitudes, opinions and relationships, and accommodate these abstract concepts more readily by representing them in a dramatic, and therefore, more concrete form.
Second, because Drama makes constant demands on a person’s imagination, it develops a student’s ability to think more effectively. A student involved in a Drama activity will be called upon to practice several thinking skills, such as: inventing, generating, speculating, assimilating, clarifying, inducing, deducing, analysing, accommodating, selecting, refining, sequencing and judging. Finally, learning through drama in the classroom gives students the opportunity to relate real-life experiences to all educational areas of the curriculum. As Morgan observes, “interest, motivation and learning all result when drama is employed for educational ends.”
As this much scope and worth is there to use drama in education, it can be imagined how much scope is there for Third Theatre of Badal Sircar. Because it is much easier to adapt than regular stage art. Badal Sircar, a dramatist of international repute, moved from the proscenium to the Aanganmancha and then finally to the outdoor theatre which became popular as free theatre or later as third theatre. Sircar himself mentions for several acceptable reasons for this shift in his book The Third Theatre and various other writings.
He explains in his letter to Schechner: The immediate reason was that of communication – we wanted to break down the barriers and come closer to the spectators, to take full advantage of direct communication that theatre as a live-show offer. We wanted to share with our audience the experience of joint human action. But in taking that course we also found our theatre outside the clutches of money. We could establish a free theatre, performing in public parks, slums, factories, villages, wherever the people are, depending on voluntary donations from the people for the little expenses we needed. We stopped using sets, spotlights, costly costumes, make-up – not as a matter of principle, but because we realized that they are not essentials, even if sometimes necessary. We concentrated on the essentials – the human body and the human mind. Our theatre became a flexible, portable and inexpensive or almost free, theatre.
Let the qualities of his theatre can be discussed at this juncture. His street play technique can be imbibed to inculcate art study. The good enough reason to discuss his theatre is, it is easily adapted. For Third Theatre no large spaces are required bus stop, market place, the street outside office, play grounds, slums, village, schools, office complex, parks, a small room etc, it can be played anywhere easily. Such theatre in an unusual way has a widened horizon approaching people of all strata and places which theatre cannot be able to access.
Sircar’s play area is culcutta surendranath park, remote villages in Bengal, small rented room.
Include Sircar’s experience…. He did not depend on sets, artificial aids, lighting, heavy properties and large crew. His actors and actresses appear in everyday clothes, with a tag on the back identifying the characters. There are no embellishments, decorations and heavy costumes in the play. They are not required in such plays. Characters in the play are very limited, limited to 6 or 8 include the number of players in plays. Even though the players are limited, audience participation is also huge. Because it is unlike normal stage play it is a great advantage. Length of the plays are short and as they are for a social purpose they are performed in such a way by a group of people that anyone, who is interested passing by, can stop and watch them.
A simple small theme can be taken to play and it saves time also. But any kind of difficult themes can also be played easily. Example Spartacus is a very difficult modal to adapt to street play. But then, Sircar did his best and it became successful … elaborate it
It can be approachable and portable. In place of waiting for an audience to come to the theatre to watch their performance, they prefer going out to be directly in touch of the people. Being outside in open spaces like parks, street corners, bus stations, etc., they approach people directly and people also take interest in them, finding something new and unusual. Some people just look at such performances out of curiosity and move on, while some other are there who take keen interest in this and cheer them with clapping, and they playfully reply to the questions of the actors, they raise.
Communication is easy. In this way, through these plays, an interaction is made between the actors and the audience. Such interaction is a vital part of this medium, for it provides instant feedback whether the play has been able to convey the message, it targets or not.
Script wise, these plays are dynamic in place of static. Their script is never a limited or fixed entity as it depends on the participation and reaction of the actors as to where the play is heading.
In a way, ‘Third Theatre’ may be called a free theatre because people are not required to buy a ticket to watch its performances. In order to avoid discrimination, all the characters wear the same ordinary clothes, and they are also not given any name but are numbered. In their dialogues they use conversational and informal language with quite short sentences and the main focus is on body presentation.
‘Street Plays’, in other words to be called as Indian Nukkarnatak, are serving as a kind of carrier mobilizing public opinion and they are also contributing to a kind of political, social, economic and cultural reformation. ‘Street Plays’ are working as a great weapon to stimulate and arouse social and political consciousness of the people.
Along with their being quite entertaining and recreating in nature without any cost, these plays are filling the mind of the people with rational, secular and democratic consciousness. In this way, they serve a social cause their being very close to reality.
With no discrimination, they display free performances without selling any ticket for all the people such as a shopkeeper, labourer, a housewife, or a student. Its purpose is to reach out to all the people and make them conscious of the happenings around them and encourage them to bring a change in the corrupt social system and eradicate the prevailing social deformities.
When it is decided to get rid of the paraphernalia of conventional proscenium theatre one must depend supremely on the human body. Body language is an important component of his plays. Often the stage equipment can be created by the mere application of body language. Thus this kind of theatre becomes portable and can be performed anywhere.
Sircar recalled the appealing effect of the open-air production of Spartakas. The bits of dry grass and patches of dirt on the bare bodies of the ‘slaves’ covered with sweat, accentuated by spots of blood from the scratches caused by pebbles on the ground, made it a play of blood and sweat as it was supposed to be.
While playing Procession, the spectators are made to sit on benches with their backs facing each other and the actors jog, run or walk and they move in between the audience too. The characters are constantly on the move. A bewildering environment is created along with the movements of the actors. It brings out an intense dramatic effect. The spectators feel that they are in the midst of a live procession. The members of the chorus are imitating a train’s siren and transforming themselves into a train making a round with whistles and `jug-jug’ of a train. Then they break up into familiar train types like, vendors and beggars. They vie with one another to attract the attention of the spectators. While the members of the chorus ONE to FIVE imitate hawkers in a train, SIX takes up the role of a beggar woman with a song. Likewise, physical participation is more in this kind of plays.
Students have to participate actively, physical involvement gives additional interest. It can give huge relaxation to students from routine learning process. Personality is also improved. They must come out of some clutches like caste, high-fi level Ultimate purpose of education is to transform individual to better citizens and it is for societal living, same as drama…theatre is also for societal transformation. If themes are good for society or for particular sect of people, they also can be involved Not much training is required, they can perform spontaneously, limited workshop modals are enough for learning performance Its potentials should be developed through intense training. Free theatre cannot be treated as pastime. For us, theatrical experience rather than narration of story is more relevant.
I believe a theatre workshop should simply help the participants to be creative, to live theatre and not to copy or simply follow dictats. Theatre should not be the reserve of the director alone. Yet it has the great advantage of proximity to and interaction with the audience. DiE mainly influence the emotional and cognitive abilities of the students. It stimulates and provokes the child’s imagination, concentration, expression, moods and intelligence to help them grow as an independent and self-confident being. Through this process, children receive anesthetic experience and develop their cognition and knowledge. They also learn to better focus their thoughts and develop empathy for others and self-responsibility for their choices. Self-esteem and pride progressively increase throughout the learning process. There was remarkable growth in research on drama in education at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. A number of journals, including Applied Theatre Researcher, Drama Research Journal, Research in Drama Education, and Youth Theatre Journal, began to be published.
- Give the child a rich oral language experience and afford the opportunity to experiment with different registers of language
- Give the child experience of drama as an art form
- Help the child to assimilate and accommodate the experience of other cultures
- Help the child to assimilate a changing environment through anticipating psychological development and through allowing him/her to transcend immediate experience by trying out other worlds through drama.
Emphasis should be given to learning rather than teaching, and the approach should be participatory, interactive, and experiential rather than instructive.