Community in the past. Community theatre isn’t only

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Last updated: April 23, 2019

 Community theatre is a type of performance that is created by eitherpeople from a local community or others and is intended for members of acommunity. However the ways a performance is made and how much input thecommunity have, is different depending on the situation.A communitytheatre should include, a play based on the memories and heritage of aregion or industrial site or group of people.

The performances from thestreet culture and experiences of young people are often done to educate peopleabout others backgrounds and are also used to entertain younger people. Thereare also drama workshops in prisons which are done to give prisoners acreative outlet and to give them a new way to deal with thereproblems, there are performances which explore women’s experiencesfrom a feminist perspective which are done to show how unfairly they have beentreated in the past. Community theatre isn’t only focused on the local historybut also modern day issues that are relevant.

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Community theatreis made to be preformed anywhere in a community like in a community centre, apark, a school, festivals, a hospice, a car park, a shopping centre, a theatre,a hospital, a church, a town centre or a care home.Two people whowere very influential in the development of community theatre were Augusto Boaland Joan Littlewood. These two people had different styles and ways to go aboutcommunity theatre.

Augusto Boal created a type of community theatre known astheatre of oppression in this the audience was actually involved in theperformance after preforming they would ask the audience to change theperformance that the ending was different. They’d start by having theperformance be about a person being sad and oppressed about something in theirlife or the situation that they’re in then after doing the performance they’dgo back and do it again however they’d ask the audience to change something aboutthe scene to make the ending a happy one. Another part of theatre of oppressionis image theatre this performance technique where one person acts as asculptor who then moulds one or more people who are acting as statues. Thisform of theatre can be one of the most stimulating because of how easy it is todo and its ability to portray thought in a concrete form and by having none ofthe actors use language to express their selves it makes it so the actors canonly use their facial expressions and movements to show emotion.

Another typeof theatre that Augusto Boal used was newspaper theatre in this they would usestories from newspapers and preform them to people on the street to educatepeople on the events going on so that people who didn’t read the newspaper ordidn’t watch the news would know about the events going on in the world. Someof the techniques used in this were simply reading in which a news item isdetached from the context of the newspaper which makes the text seem false orcontroversial.However JoanLittlewood would take a different approach to community theatre she would takesomething controversial like war or stabbings and make it comedic so that theaudience wouldn’t know whether to laugh or take the issue seriously. She didthis to make people think about the events going on in the world she would alsouse gangsters and prostitutes as actors in her performances to show that anyonecould be an actor no matter what their background was.Joan Littlewoodwould use an acting style known as clowning around where all of the actorswould portray clowns serious situations making them seem no longer serious butas a joker this was used to make the audience uncomfortable because theywouldn’t know if they were supposed to laugh.

Joan Littlewood also used thestyle of newspaper theatre like Augusto Boal did expect instead of having theaudience change it she’d make whatever the news article was funny even thoughthe original article was meant to be taken seriously.Both JoanLittlewood and Augusto Boal used community theatre to bring people together topromote community cohesion they both wanted to educate people on the events ofthe world and how they could respond to them. Augusto chose to have theaudience see the seriousness of a situation and then have them change thesituation so that it had a happy ending this would let the audience have avoice in how the performance ends this also allows them to see and think abouthow they could help to change different situations. However Joan Littlewood tooka different approach to this she would take serious events that were going onand make them comedic this was to make the audience laugh at the situation andthen feel bad for laughing afterwards realising that what they laughed at wasserious and not a laughing matter. This would make the audience confused onabout how they felt on what they’d just seen in turn this would lead to theaudience members thinking about what they’d just seen making them think aboutsomething in the news they may have not seen or really thought about untilafter watching the performance.In conclusioncommunity theatre is a very important thing it helps to entertain people aswell as educate them on certain issues in the community they may not havethought or cared about before it also helps to bring people both young and oldtogether which ends up promoting community cohesion.

It also gives youngerpeople a positive activity to do with their spare time which can make it sothey stay off the streets and makes it so they don’t do illegal things likedrugs and it also gives them a creative outlet to express themselves with, itcan also make it so that they learn about different cultures and theirbackgrounds as well as the local history of where they live. And for olderpeople seeing people do a performance about the local history it can help themto remember what it was like when they may have been growing up giving them apleasant feeling of both nostalgia of when they were younger and joy thatyounger people are taking an interest in what the community used to be like.Community theatre isn’t just used to show the history of the area that theyreperforming in it’s also used to tackle subjects like sexuality, mental illness,crime and drugs.

Community theatre is something which will always be needed toentertain and educate people of all ages and to bring people together.There are many different local ways to get into communitytheatre such as local companies like Stagecoach who teach students from ages four toeighteen about acting, singing and dancing and have been active for thirtyyears so they have a lot of experience when it comes to teaching people about theperforming arts. They mostly focus on the performing aspect of communitytheatre rather than the technical aspects of it and they don’t have any adultsperforming which is very different from the Hasland Theatre Company which is atheatre company in has land and is a long lasting group. The Hasland Theatre Company have been performing since1944 and are an amateur theatre group that perform exclusively in their own onehundred seat theatre which is called The Playhouse. They perform fivedifferent shows each season and welcome new members and they don’t just lookfor actors they also look for people to help out with things like lighting,sound and the other backstage and technical side of their performances so theydon’t just focus on the performing side of community theatre they also needpeople for the technical side and again seeing as they put on their own showsthis makes them different form another performing arts company the pomegranatetheatre. The pomegranate theatre which has a youth theatre for people ages seven to twenty five themembers of this youth theatre are able to experience the many different parts ofstagecraft in weekly workshops which are run by experiencedfacilitators the workshops that are put on help to promote teamworkas well as social skills, confidence and creativity. This youth theatreregularly puts on performances at the pomegranate and in other local areasincluding festivals, outside and at schools these performances explore relevantissues that relate to people in the local area.

They also let different touringcompanies perform using their stage because they are a receiving house thismakes them different from other community theatre companies because this makesit so that members of the community are able to see different types ofperformances and different styles that the companies that use the pomegranatesstage use. So there’s many different types of performing arts companies whichappeal to different groups of people in communities  while some performances may not interest certainpeople a different community theatre performance on a different topic mayinterest them a lot more and make them more interested in what has happened andwhat goes on in their community.      

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