Street Theatre (Orissa, India)

Ankuran in Rayagada, NSS in Angul and PIPAR in Dhenkanal hosted street theatre programmes on various panchayat processes as part of their awareness program.

Titled "My Village, My Plan," the first of the plays in Rayagada focused on the constitution and importance of the Palli Sabha and how people can use it for their benefit. The play also incorporated discussions and role-play on various schemes of the government such as Right to Information Act (RTI), National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), and the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM)- linking these with the gram sabha (general assembly). The roles and responsibilities of the EWRs in the schemes were highlighted.

In the next phase, 20 street plays were staged in seven blocks of Rayagada in partnership with SANGEET, a local theatre group. Around 5,000 people participated in these shows. The theme was "Our Village, Our Work" and it emphasized NREGA. The right to work and food security touched the hearts of the people and they raised with several issues regarding problems in implementation.

Similarly, in Anugul, plays were staged in three blocks covering about 26 villages. The plays focused on women's leadership and were titled, "Nua Sakala" (A New Dawn). They drew a positive response from people with many requesting NSS to stage more such plays, and importantly, in their own villages.

PIPAR in Dhenkanal hosted ballets focussing again on NREGS and RTI, which drew very positive reactions from people. In all three areas, it was heartening to note that the level of interest and concern shown by the people with regard to learning about government schemes such as the NREGS. In places left out due to paucity of funds, local people pitched in with their contributions and requested that we host such plays in their areas as well.