Community theatre

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Community theatre refers to any theatrical performance made in relation to particular communities—its usage includes theatre made by, with, and for a community. It may refer to a production that is made entirely by a community with no outside help, or a collaboration between community members and professional theatre artists, or a performance made entirely by professionals that is addressed to a particular community. Community theatres range in size from small groups led by single individuals that perform in borrowed spaces to large permanent companies with well-equipped facilities of their own. Many community theatres are successful, non-profit businesses with a large active membership and, often, a full-time staff. Community theatre is often devised and may draw on popular theatrical forms, such as carnival, circus, and parades, as well as performance modes from commercial theatre. This type of theatre is ever-changing and evolving due to the influences of the community; the artistic process can often be heavily affected by the community's socioeconomic circumstances.[1]

There is a certain obligation that community theatre is held to because of the personal and physical connection to its own community and the people within that community. Community theatre is understood to contribute to the social capital of a community, insofar as it develops the skills, community spirit, and artistic sensibilities of those who participate, whether as producers or audience members. It is used as a tool for social development, promoting ideas like gender equality, human rights, environment, and democracy. Most of the community theatre practices have been developed based on the philosophy of education theorist Paulo Freire's approach of critical pedagogy in theatre and implementation techniques built by Augusto Boal, known as Theatre of the Oppressed. Freire's approach attempted to stimulate social change by encouraging the audience to build capacities for critical thinking through participation in active dialogue. The participants would identify issues of concerns, and discuss possible solutions, with an enhanced tolerance for different perspectives with regard to the same problem. Such plays are then rarely performed in traditional playhouses but rather staged on streets, public places, traditional meeting spaces, schools, prisons, or other institutions, inviting an alternative and often spontaneous audience to watch.[2]

Community theatre is distinct from amateur theatre which, while it may be community-based, is always non-professional whereas community theatre can be considered professional theatre.