Street Drama dramatic performance outside the proscenium arch or, in other words, in streets, fields, or open spaces. It is performed with few and simple props. There are no seating arrangements, and the audience watch the performance sitting on the ground or standing.
Street dramas are shorter than stage dramas, and usually last about half an hour to one hour. The object of street drama is not to provide entertainment but to arouse social consciousness and protest against injustice. Enacting it without any elaborate stage effects highlights existing social problems. In some cases, solutions are also suggested.
Street drama is popular in different countries, include China, Russia, France, and Vietnam. In these countries street dramas are performed for political purposes as well as to provide entertainment. In India during the Second World War and in the post-war period, street drama played a considerable role in arousing the masses against the famine, black-marketing, profiteering, and oppression and in strengthening the movement against the British regime. Afterwards, street drama was used as a strong and successful means to ensure the rights of the working class.
In Bangladesh, street drama has been mainly influenced by folk song, folk dance and jatras that were staged in open places to celebrate religious and other festivals. After the inception of group theatre, drama groups have come forward to practice street drama along with stage drama. New drama groups became interested as they could produce street drama with less cost, labour and time. Generally, the main objective of these plays has been to arouse the people against oppression and to make them conscious of religious superstition and fundamentalism.
Selim Al Din's Char Kankdar Documentary was the first street drama to be performed in Dhaka in 1977. Subsequently, Padatik staged SM Solaiman's drama, Ksyapa Paglar Pyanchal, based on the war of liberation. The contribution of Charan Natya Gosthi to street drama is also significant.
In the eighties, the Bangladesh Group Theatre Federation took the initiative of celebrating a street drama festival. In 1987, Dhaka theatre groups such as Mahakal, Subachan, Ganachhaya, and Mahanagari '77 jointly staged street drama regularly. Twenty-five theatre groups took part in the week-long festival at the university of dhaka. Twenty-one theatre groups participated in another week-long street drama festival at Mohammadpur. In 1992, Mahakal, Dhaka Natyam, and Desh Natak started staging street drama jointly. On their initiative, street drama was performed every Friday evening at Suhrawardy Udyan. Subsequently, street drama was organised every winter. In 1993, the Pathanatak Association was founded at the Teacher-Student Centre of Dhaka University.
From 1-7 February 1966, the Bangladesh Group Theatre Federation and the Pathanatak Association jointly organised a week-long national street drama festival, celebrating 'Twenty-Five Years of the Freedom Struggle' at the shaheed minar. Similarly, in the first week of February 1999 a week-long national street drama festival was celebrated under the title 'We Want Our Rights on the Stage and in the Street' at the Shaheed Minar. Twenty-three theatre groups participated in this festival. The theme of the plays included the Liberation War and anti-communalism. From 25-27 February 2000, a street drama festival was arranged in the Suhrawardy Udyan through the initiative of the Pathanatak Association. Twenty-eight theatre groups participated in the festival.
Street dramas have also been performed to celebrate different national days. On May Day they are staged in the industrial areas of the country. [Zillur Rahman John]