40 students of C.S.I. Bishop Appasamy College attend a two-day workshop on street theatre in Coimbatore

On the premise that making people think about a social issue or an evil is more important than finding or giving solutions, the street theatre movement is gaining momentum among social workers and social work students.

Schools, colleges and non-Governmental organisations are transforming street theatre into an effective tool to reach out to the grassroots and also to the urban poor. While many are evolving ways to shape the plays according to their abilities, there are some that are going the formal way by engaging professionals to train their students.

A two-day workshop on street theatre is under way at C.S.I. Bishop Appasamy College of Arts and Science, where 40 students from the Bachelor of Social Work, and Master of Social Work courses are taking part.

Final-year MSW student of Loyola College, Chennai, and street theatre trainer A.S. Vigetharan, who has an experience of over seven years in street theatre, is training the students on the theory and practical aspects.

“Though street theatre is not part of the curriculum, many institutions are consciously making it a part of social work studies because it is turning out to be a very effective medium to reach out to the masses. The workshop includes sessions on social analysis, identifying the topic, script writing, effectively introducing the topic, and delivering it using speech, songs, and play act,” Mr. Vigetheran said.

After a morning session of theory on social analysis, students were grouped into teams and given various topics, taught to write scripts and execute the street play. The second day will see students come up with their own topics, write their own scripts and execute the plays.

Students were explained the difference between a stage play and a street play and the corresponding modulations required in speech and carriage.

C. Arun Kumar, assistant professor, Department of Social Work of the college, said the college already had teams that were regularly involved in putting up street plays in slums on vices such as alcoholism and drug addiction.

“This training will equip the 40 students to become more knowledgeable on the nuances of street theatre. After the workshop, these students will be divided into five teams and will be deputed to perform street plays in rural and urban areas regularly because it has proved to be a good tool of communication and helps in reaching out to people with ease,” he said.

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