Forum Theatre or the Theatre of Oppressed as it is mostly known in the art circles is a form of theatre where the line between the stage and the audience blurs and the audience takes part in the play by stopping the act in the middle and altering it to his will (and sometimes, conscience) and the actors on the stage improvising the new act.
When a character(s) is being oppressed, somebody from the audience calls for the stop of the act and deliberates with the ‘Joker’ of the forum to change the outcome of the act to a more suitable ending. Here the ‘Joker’ is a person who is a carrier, or you could say a messenger between the audience and the actors.
This Friday, Bhubaneswar had the good fortune to witness performances by theatre artists from across the globe sharing a single stage where they played the theatre of the oppressed and through which they addressed the issues of Climate change, Sustainable development et al. The event was organized by Global Impact under the aegis of the European Commission. A representative of Global Impact, Mr. Matthew in a somewhat inspirational welcome note talked about how we were the actors of our own development and not the Government or the system we live in.
Performances by the actors were captivating enough albeit the fact that the Bhubaneswar audience is still not familiar with such a form of theatre and is less of a connoisseur and more of a rookie at it. The charm seemed to be missing.
After all, the real beauty of forum theatre lies in the fact that “if you stand up to stop oppression on stage, then you are more likely to stop it in real life as well.”
Debi Prasad Sahu is a Bhubaneswar based Photographer. You can find more of his work here.
Apart from photography, he volunteers at The Bakul Foundation, Bhubaneswar.