Life lessons to be learnt from theatre

Dubai - In many ways, theatre is an equalizer. Our columnist Malavika Varadan uncovers some of the many things theatre teaches you

By Malavika Varadan

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Published: Wed 30 Jun 2021, 6:42 PM

I write this column while sitting backstage during a technical run of our theatre show. Around me are a dozen young people, some gluing props together, others painting faces. Two young actors are in the far corner of the theatre rehearsing lines with each other. A team of women — of three different nationalities — are lifting heavy set pieces, and arranging them to recreate a home on stage.

I run a theatre company, and for the last few months, I have thought of nothing else but these shows. If you have never been part of a play, it is hard to describe what a life-changing experience it is. To walk on stage, have the light fall on your eyes, tell someone’s story and move an audience is a feeling like no other.

Theatre makes great leaders, great teams and great human beings and here is why.

Theatre is an equalizer. No matter what your business card says, or what your bank balance might be — in a rehearsal room, you are only as good as the energy you bring. Everyone has a role, and only if they play it well will we be able to tell a story together. There is no lesson in team-building like this.

Theatre teaches you how to imagine. Chairs become surf boards and sofas and cars. Where else can you, as a grown adult, do this?

Theatre people are the most resourceful human beings on the planet. If you ever want to make five dirham note stretch to the length of a 50 dirham note, ask backstage crew. Everything on a stage is recycled, borrowed, fashioned out of what the world would consider trash.

Theatre teaches you trust. It teaches you how to be your most vulnerable self, and how to hold another person up. It teaches you to give your time, your attention, your being to the people you share the stage with.

The arts are where we learn risk-taking. It teaches you how to create something out of nothing, and present it to the world with the hope that people will understand, feel and be moved.

Mime teaches you everything you need to know about non-verbal communication. Improvisation teaches you how to listen and build on the ideas of others without tearing it down.

Drama teaches you how to collaborate, create and come together — to bring everything you have to a show. It cannot be fast forwarded or rewound, or rewatched or reel-ed. But that’s the secret to this magic. Only if you have been there will you know.

Watch and learn, business world, watch and learn.

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