Mobile Theatres in Assam: A Vibrant Cultural Tradition on Wheels
Mobile Theatres in Assam

Mobile Theatres in Assam: A Vibrant Cultural Tradition on Wheels

Relevance: GS I & GS V - Art and Culture

Mobile theatre:

In the field of performing Art, Mobile theatre which is also known as Bhramyaman theatre in Assam has a long heritage.

  • The term Bhramyaman theatre was first used by the renowned social worker Radha Govinda Baruah in the remark book of Suradevi Theatre after seeing the performances in Latasil playground of Guwahati.

  • Nataraj theatre founded by veteran theatre organizer Achyut Lahkar in 1963 was the first mobile theatre group of Assam.

  • After a long journey of more than 30 years, the mobile theatre took such an organized form in its initial stages, which was in the form of Yatra and Opera. Like Assamese mobile theatre, there is no other theatre in the world. It has given Assamese culture a unique identity.

  • Revolutionary drama worker Brajanath Sarma’s Kohinoor Opera was the pre indication of mobile theatre of Assam of the 60’s. He was the pioneer of Assamese commercial mobile theatre.

  • Achyut Lahkar introduced several new things to the mobile theatre movement of Assam, which plays two roles - promoting drama as an art and promoting drama as a product.

 First Mobile theatre of Assam

  • The first mobile theatre of Assam, known as "Bhramyaman Theatre," was a groundbreaking cultural innovation established in the early 1960s by Achyut Lahkar, a notable playwright and director.

  • Achyut Lahkar founded the Nataraj Theatre in 1963, marking the beginning of a new era in Assamese theatre. This mobile theatre format was designed to bring theatrical performances to a wider audience by traveling from place to place, rather than having audiences come to a fixed location.

Mobile theatre of Assam is a mixture of commerce and Art.

  • It has also made huge contributions to socioeconomic and educational upliftment of Assamese people.

  • Before the performance of the main drama, it always fulfills its social responsibility by enacting a dance drama, either on socio-cultural issues or on a mythological theme.

  • It is a medium that has a huge impact on the viewers. The plays enacted by the theatre groups offered a veritable analysis of multifarious social issues.

As a form of travel, the theatre staged plays in different parts of the region right from the remote villages to the towns and cities.

  • The Bhramyaman theatre stands as an exceptional spectacle covering a huge range of on-lookers.

  • Coming into practice around the twentieth century as a result of the undaunted efforts of pioneers like Brajanath Sarma, Achyut Lahkar and Ratan Lahkar, this form of commercial or popular theatre stands as one of the finest examples of performing arts and audience-oriented staging.

  • It has successfully catered to huge responses from the audiences right from the initial period to the present times.

  • The Bhramyaman theatre having to move to places, lacks any fixed milieu and establishment.

  • Travelling to places with an ensemble of actors, singers, dancers, musicians, technicians, tents, seating, crew members, the Bhramyaman theatre has succeeded in creating an itinerant stage which has seen lots of technical advancements over the years.

  • The enchanted atmosphere that is created on the stage with sounds, music, special effects, lights, and advanced technology entices the attraction of the spectators who could hardly imagine the imper manence of the stage.

Following in the footsteps of Kohinoor Theatre that was introduced at Pathsala, Barpeta in the mid-seventies, Nataraj, Awahan, Hengul, Bordoisila, Bhagyadevi, Surjya, Brindaban, Rajtilak, Itihas, Mukunda, Shudarshan, Suradevi and many other theatre groups came into existence over the years.

  • Starting from the middle of September and running up to April, for about seven months, the theatre groups carry a plethora of performances and stories to regions from Dhubri to Sadiya.

  • Plays covering stories from myths, legends, national history, regional history, adaptations from Hollywood and Bollywood blockbusters, adaptations from plays of Jyotiprasad Agarwala, Bishnu Prasad Rabha, Bhabendranath Saikia, as well as based on the present times and situations addressing the contemporary issues at stake, are performed with the alluring spectacle of music and dance inducing melodrama and high drama on stage.

  • Technical assistance with special effects and costumes adds to the high drama that takes place on the stage.

  • The backstage story of the theatre which involves the entire production unit, from the cerebration to the implementation helps in concretising the theatrical performance into entertainment and social awareness.

  • Through live performance the theatre narrates or tells stories concerning local, regional and global issues that efficaciously attract the local sensibility and consciousness who are able to relate and connect themselves to the scripted situation.

  • The live performance is seen on both sides of the stage.

  • Dialogues, songs, laughter, sorrow, tragedy, dance, recitation, realities of human existence and experience are being performed on stage, these can readily be seen merging with the whistles, screams, shouting, happiness, laughter, joy and sorrow on the other side of the podium – the audience.

  • The enthusiasm with which the theatre goers of the Bhramyaman theatre perceive and grasp the plays creates a lively atmosphere which is energetic and dynamic and which further substantiates their emotional attachment with the theatre.

Being in a continuous process of development and experimentation with content, style, techniques and setting, the Bhramyaman theatre has not only provided entertainment to the people but has also been the source of employment for multitudes of people associated with it.

Some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Mobile Theatres in Assam

Q1: How often do Mobile Theatres visit rural areas in Assam? A: Mobile Theatres typically have a regular schedule, visiting different rural areas in Assam throughout the year. Check local listings for specific dates and locations.

Q2: Are Mobile Theatres only focused on traditional Assamese performances? A: While rooted in Assamese traditions, Mobile Theatres also incorporate diverse performances, including contemporary plays and adaptations of global classics.

Q3: How do Mobile Theatre troupes sustain themselves financially? A: Mobile Theatre troupes rely on ticket sales, sponsorships, and government support to sustain their operations and contribute to the local economy.

Q4: Can visitors participate in Mobile Theatre performances? A: Mobile Theatres often engage with local communities, providing opportunities for participation in various capacities, from acting to backstage support.

Q5: How has technology influenced the storytelling methods of Mobile Theatres? A: Technology has enhanced storytelling in Mobile Theatres through multimedia presentations, advanced lighting, and sound effects, creating a more immersive experience for the audience.

Advait IAS