Theatre Methodology

When you think of theatre, the imagery that plays out is: Stage: Actors: Fun: Intense: Entertainment.

We typically do not associate theatre as a methodology for a professional learning session.

Well, that is far from the truth as more and more companies are experimenting with this powerful medium as a learning methodology. Last week, the Times of India carried an interesting article on how corporate are using theatre to support their managers to hone difficult skills & prickly skills like Giving & Receiving feedback, having Difficult Conversations, Managing Conflicts etc.

The question is “Why is this medium more easily accepted than the traditional formats of role plays / video filming, replay & feedback”

The methodology of theatre based training is rooted in the principal of “Mirroring”, where behaviours are played out using the paradoxical polarity of being ambiguous and crystal clear.

As a company we have done a fair amount of work using theatre as a methodology and I believe that the advantages it has are:

  • “Wholesome experience” as it works at the intellectual, conscious & subconscious levels
  • Not prescriptive in approach
  • Creates a safe and anonymous environment
  • Fun / experimentation / participation levels high as various forms of theatre are used
  • Individuals see the impact of a change immediately
  • Most importantly it is economical as compared to class room training

Invariably theatre learning goes through a cycle of: Denial (no this is exaggerated and not real) = maybe it happens in some organisations = maybe it happens in my organisation (but with other people) = yes, it happens with me (only very frequently) = yes, it happens = to reflection on my own style = to internalisation & reflection.

The magical part is that all this happens in a matter of 45 minutes, and varied emotions like anger, aggression, fear, hurt, reflection and silence are all at play in the same space.

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