Theatre serves many purposes, one of the primary ones being motivation. A recent theatre workshop showed the medium is fast becoming a potent motivation tool in Indian metros, where inspiration levels are subject to frequent changes, courtesy the hire-and-fire corporate culture.
The 15-day theatre workshop that concluded in the capital recently proved to be an effective motivation ground for 40-odd participants ranging from a 14-year-old school student to a 53-year-old professional.
The participants were taught the rudiments of Constantin Sergeyevich Stanislavski's acting method in which an actor has to rigorously practise his craft and hone his skill.
"Theatre helps foster team spirit and better coordination when working in a group. It is also a great motivational tool, bolstering self-confidence and self-esteem," said Sunit Sinha of The Actor Factor Theatre Company, who attended the Chameleon Actor - Advanced Acting Skills Training Workshop.
The workshop, Sinha told IANS, had several motivation and group exercises like standing blindfolded in the centre of a group and learning to trust those around him and ice-breaking drills in which two people would lie on top of each other and feel the heartbeats - look into each other's eyes and relate to one another.
According to Tanushree Podder, author of the "Book, Belts and Berets", theatre is a medium that conveys a very strong social message to a wide cross-section of people who would otherwise ignore a topic altogether. In the process, it ends up motivating and mobilising opinions - which are interconnected.
"Theatre motivates an individual though in an indirect manner. If a person trains in stage theatre, he is able to hold sway in a group, relate better to people and can strike a better rapport in the emotional context," Podder explained to IANS.
Theatre, says the Applied Research and Autism Network (Artran), is a safe place for individuals to try new things and make mistakes. It is inherently fun and motivating and yet it is highly structured.
An actor has prescribed lines that help him develop control over reflexes. Theatre strategies, says Artran, are usually inexpensive and it allows an actor to repeatedly practise a set of specific skills to perfection.
Doctor Ric Charlesworth, former captain of the Olympic gold-winning Australian hockey team and author of the book "Shakespeare the Coach", best brings out the the role of theatre as an exercise in motivation.
The former coach said over a period of time he found that "a bunch of stuff William Shakespeare had said was relevant to sports". The author, who admires the playwright's insights into human nature and motivation, used a quote from Shakespeare's play "As You Like It" in his book.
"Sweet are the uses of adversity." Explaining the implications of the quote, Charlesworth said it meant pushing people sometimes harder than they wanted to be pushed. "The message is you need to do that if you are going to develop and grow and improve and be better and be able to handle conditions when they come along."
Veteran actor-director Vineet Kumar, a National School of Drama (NSD) alumnus, feels that theatre enriches the soul. "If you ferret out the soul, a person comes alive and if you make an actor practise method acting, a soul is born," he told IANS.
Kumar believes that theatre is the best inspiration and motivation guide because it fosters synergy between the four sutras (tenets) of natya shastra (the art of theatre as enshrined in ancient Indian scriptures) - Aangika, Achika, Aharya and Attvik - which include body language, make-up and emotional and facial expression.
"Perfect coordination between the four breeds concentration and acts as a motivating factor even in everyday situations," he explained. "Youth in our country lack concentration and coordination and have lost sensitivities. They require self-discipline and only a stint on the stage can help breed it," he said.
Training in theatre is important for a city like Delhi - which has an active stage - and in other metros where theatre is alive. "Grooming in theatre helps a person become a serious citizen and teaches him how to respond to his immediate surroundings," Kuljeet Singh of the theatre group Atelier told IANS.
Singh conducts several theatre-related motivational projects in schools to sensitise children to issues of gender, sexuality, communal violence and social issues like child labour.
"My elementary workshops involving teachers and students focus on issues of incorporating drama in school," Singh said. He is working on a project with schoolteachers on creative teaching that uses theatre to make classrooms a fun place to learn.