The state of Assam holds a significant role in developing the theatre culture in North-East region of India. Similar to the many different folk art forms that India treasures, this Assamese theatre form is also unknown to many.
Creation of a medieval Assamese saint and social reformer Srimanta Sankardeva, Ankia Naat is a popular class of one act plays in Assam. The actual presentation of this performance is called as Bhaona. He is known to have drawn his inspiration from classic Sanskrit theatre with regards to this art form.
The saint composed numerous Ankia Naats that were a beautiful mixture of dance, music and dialogue that include Ram Vijaya, Rukmini Haran, Keli Gopala, Parijaat Haran, Kaliya Daman, and Patni Prashada. They were created with the aim to offer the common folk from every part of the society a means of entertainment as well as evoking devotions within them which he was successful at. The worship of Lord Krishna is the central theme of the plays and is based on His various acts.
The plays are written in Assamese-Maithili mixed language called Brajavali which is a combination of Sanskrit, Maithili, Assamese, Bhojpuri and Hindi. They start with a prelude, or Purvaranga. Then the narrator or sutradhar enters and begins with the main performance wherein he links the scenes using music, dance and words.
Present day Ankia Naat performances use live music and instruments, dance and use dramatic costumes with big productions.