Tell me and I will forget,
Show me and I will remember,
Involve me and I will understand.
In earlier days, besides being a principal form of entertainment, Theatre was used to teach morals, improve the quality of human life and teach right from wrong. In countries all over the world, small bands of actors would enact scenes from epics, put up performances based on religious themes, and spread messages of goodwill, good moral and social conduct, across the land.
Even today, both governmental as well as non-governmental organizations are using the medium of Theater in remote areas to spread information about proper health care, influence public opinion against social evils such as dowry and female infanticide, and drum up support for the need for education and self-sufficiency.
In the cities, where the system of education is fast becoming extremely competitive, complicated and stressful, it has been found that when curriculum subjects are taught in conjunction with aspects of Theatre, there is greater depth of understanding and better retention.
I will now focus on some of the skills which can be developed through Theater, skills which, without exception, are essential for success in any area of life.
Theatre encourages the ability of Problem Solving. A widely used medium in corporate as well as lifestyle skills training, Theater enables individuals to deal with a variety of problems in a controlled situation and formulate a number of solutions to try and seek the best possible outcomes. Problem Solving calls for good Analytical Thinking. By turning a problem ‘on its head’, so to speak, through various permutations and combinations, and visually presenting each scenario, Theatre boosts the individual’s analytical capabilities.
Reading is fast becoming a lost habit as more and more people turn to television and films. Theatre encourages individuals to read, to go through the written script, memorize and perform from memory. This process of activation of the brain is still considered to be a good form of mental development as the whole edifice of our education system is based on this principle.
Creative thinking is a strong cornerstone of Theatre. It is not possible to do Theatre without the ability to put oneself into another person’s shoes. The ability to empathize, to see problems from a different viewpoint and ‘relive’ somebody else’s experiences and feelings is an essential outcome of learning through the Theatre. This again, calls for excellent Creative Thinking skills.
Theater requires the ability to Plan and Set realistic Goals, both long-term as well as short-term. A Theater project is like any other project which requires the ability to garner resources, allocate a budget, plan in a step by step manner, meet goals within a stipulated time frame, trouble shoot, and work with flexibility and creativity while staying in touch with realistic problems and obstacles that one must deal with on a continuous basis.
Then again Theatre is a powerful medium for enhancing and developing Communication Skills, correct Body Language as well as building Self-Confidence. Theater encourages clear and precise speech habits, voice modulation and projection, proper synchronization of Body Language, Facial Expression and Voice Emphasis which is crucial for Congruent Communication. All these together help create impressive personality traits which in turn encourages Self-Confidence.
Last but not the least; Theatre inculcates Discipline and the Team Bonding and Building abilities, which are essential aspects of the modern workplace scenario. Good Theatre requires Perseverance, Persistence and Self-Discipline and ability to work with and integrate one’s interests, views and contributions with those of others. Theatre is always a team effort, and can never be successful in isolation.
It is therefore amply evident that the Soft Skills, or People Skills as I prefer to call them, skills necessary in the modern workplace as well as personal life can be competently developed through the medium of Theatre. Your technical and academic qualities help you get your foot in at the door, but it is these other skills which help you to climb the ladder to success.
Here, Theatre can play a crucial role. However, its potential still remains largely untapped and unrecognized in our country.