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Folk Theatre

After the decline of classical Sanskrit drama, folk theatre developed in various regions in India from the 14th through the 19th century. Unlike classical theatre, folk theatre is in direct contact with the people and was often created and supported by them. Folk drama is popular with the people, not because of its production values, but because of its communicability and its relation between the audience and the performer. However, some conventions and stock characters of classical drama (stage preliminaries, the opening prayer song, the sutradhar who introduces the play in the beginning and the vidushaka or the jester) are adopted into folk theatre. It lavishly employs music, dance, drumming, exaggerated make-up, masks and singing chorus.

Traditionally, folk theatre dealt with mythological heroes, medieval romances, but in later days it represented a strong element of social criticism as it often reflected contemporary social reality. This theatre is often very melodramatic with highly stylised delivery and exaggerated gestures and orations. Traditionally the cast was  predominantly male whose members also played the female parts, though since the late 19th century female actors started joining the cast.