Drama can change your life

The art form can equip you with the skills you need to tackle difficult circumstances

By Malavika Varadan, Managing Director, The Hive

Published: Thu 4 Jun 2020, 10:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 5 Jun 2020, 12:31 AM

I remember so distinctly the very first drama class I walked into. I must have been about eight years old.
This was a gathering of loud, happy people at a space called R and B. Restaurant and Bookstore was just what its name suggested, and run by a friend of my dad's.
That day, she had invited a lady called Kirtana Kumar, who sat us down in a circle and asked us to read and understand bits of A Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare. I got to read for Puck, the naughty fairy. And this is the part I remember the most. I felt alive.
It was so strange to be in a class where I was asked to move and jump and run, to express myself fully, to be more of everything I knew.
It sure was different from what I knew to be a 'class' - a place where children read words in their minds, and sat still, and where they became smaller than they felt.
I knew then that I had found love. I loved words coming alive. I loved moving. I loved this feeling of chaos in class. The games, the trust, the feeling of being part of something larger than myself.
Drama changes lives. It changed me. It will change you, and your children and here is why.

1. Drama is about imagination. Do you remember what it was like to play as a child? A stick became a gun. A bed sheet became a tent. This is drama. Drama tells you that the only reality you present on stage is the reality you imagine. Colour this imaginary world as you please and your audience will believe you. If that isn't magic, what is?
Scientists, mathematicians and entrepreneurs all have one thing in common: they imagine new things before they make new things.

2. Drama teaches empathy. Stories help us inhabit other realities. You can be sitting in an air-conditioned room but, through drama, travel to Charlie Bucket's chocolate factory in England and Malala's school bus in Pakistan. We try to feel what they felt, understand why they acted as they did, and try to grasp realities that look nothing like ours through the words of storytellers.

3. Drama teaches collaboration. Drama requires many people - every role, every actor doing their part in moving the story forward. That's not all. An actor can't do his part without lighting and sound. Collaboration on stage is real. Children learn to soak in the spotlight as much as they learn to hold up a light to someone else's face. And that the play is only a play when everyone does their part.

4. Drama teaches confidence. As adults, how often do we clam up when someone at work or a social gathering asks us to come up on stage and speak? Stage fear is real. And if it wasn't for the fear of being the focus of all the attention in the room, maybe we would have spoken up louder, voiced those ideas, or even taken up that opportunity to lead. Drama helps to make that fear disappear.

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