Monday, July 20, 2015

Lights, Camera, Action, Cut!

Strange are the ways of learning. I grew up hearing that I should learn, now all that I hear is I should unlearn! Unlearn to adapt in a better way. The above statement precisely holds true for a paradigm shift in tools & techniques used for learning & development. Gone are the days when learning was through role plays, feedback, exercises. It has now evolved to theatre & drama based programmes. So when you think of theatre, the imagery that plays out is: Stage: Actors: Action: Fun: Entertainment: Intensity: Applause! Can you associate all of these with a training methodology? Do you think it is about creating actors & saying Lights, Camera, Action, Cut? Well, the purpose certainly is not to learn about acting, but to use the experience as a metaphor for moving outside our comfort zone. In fact it’s also about: 1. Dropping your labels (read designation) & your work masks 2. Examine one’s own thinking & choices in the face of challenges 3. Helps in subtly representing the facts that participants can relate to 4. Helps in identifying & surfacing sub-conscious biases 5. It is experiential in nature , neither didactic nor prescriptive in approach 6. It inherently calls for engagement, expression, making choices, having an opinion, reflection therefore encouraging critical & divergent thinking Organizations today are widely experimenting with this technique. The methodology of theatre based training works on the principle of mirroring. Hence it directly triggers thoughts/responses at intellectual, conscious & sub-conscious levels. It has power to depict stark and true reality in a fascinating manner. While participants have unusual experience & a child like fun, it also evokes strong responses of delight, recognition, hope, fear and silence – all in same space. It also inspires debate, exchange of ideas & internalise learning’s through deep insights gained during the process. The technique helps in building an environment of collaboration & free expressions without any fear of judgement. Like other methodologies, theatre based training has got a wide array of applications in space of soft skills & behavioural trainings. It works across all age groups. It can be used to teach important life skills to children whereas it can also be used for corporates in space of leadership & communication workshops. When a theatre based program fails? 1. If the participants aren’t aware that they are signing up for a theatre based program & why theatre as a methodology, it may significantly reduce the potency of the program. Theatre being a radical format of the program, may lead to confusion & resistance if participants are not sensitized about it. 2. Facilitator plays a major role in creating the safety net & a space to experiment. This enables participants to share their experiences openly. In absence of a safe environment, it may fail drastically. 3. The most important skill of the facilitator is to debrief well & journalize the learning’s. If this is not done well, it will turn out to be a fun session with no reflection & powerful messages to take away. 4. If debriefing is done from an angle of theory only, it may fail. The facilitator should be able to connect the dots, create a space for deeper enquiry, make the conversations contextual not content based and most importantly, process oriented than being outcome oriented. So, if you haven’t experienced this powerful technique, its time you leave your inhibitions & discover the power of enactment. Get ready to get on a path for a journey of discovery & transformation in a fun way.