Theatre in the classrooms

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts.

So said Shakespeare, the great dramatist of all times.

Theatre is generally thought of as a form of literary art pursued by a few creative writers for a small target group of literature and art-lovers or as a medium of entertainment for the larger public. But it has immense scope in the education system not only as a co-curricular activity but in the classrooms during the regular teaching-learning process as a methodology of teaching. The techniques of drama & role-play can be employed to make instructional process more interesting, effective and meaningful. Theatre, when embedded in the educational process, can lead to the holistic development of learners viz_ the social, cultural, emotional and spiritual dimensions of the learners.
Social Dimension:
Drama being a collaborative Art form, engages many people at the same time, developing the values of cooperation and team spirit among participants. The participants are required to keenly observe the real people, their languages, mannerisms, behaviour patterns, etc. and understand their inner motivations so as to recreate it realistically.
Theatre also has a huge potential to become an agent of social change & reform. Dramas based on social issues such as corruption, unemployment, Poverty, Child Labor, Gender Inequality environmental management and so on can develop awareness regarding such issues and help in fighting & eradicating social evils. Through drama, learners can also be trained for democratic citizenship so as to make our largest democracy function effectively.
Cultural Dimension:
Culture is not only an amalgamation of customs, traditions, beliefs & value systems to be learnt & imitated by members of the society. It must be assimilated at inner psychic levels so that it endows a member with a sense of identity & belongingness. Careful observation & participation in the Dramatic forms such as Bhavai, Tamasha, Ramleela, Yatra & Yakshagana can provide insights into the rich cultural heritage of India and develop a sense of ‘pride’ for their own culture.
Emotional Dimension:
Drama is now also utilized as a Therapy. The therapeutic use of Drama gives very positive results in the cure of psychosomatic disorders. The student population of today is increasingly being gripped by psycho-somatic disorders such as depression, neurosis, ‘anomie’ and so on. Theatre, allows free voice & expression to the pent-up emotions, provides catharsis which results in healing the deep emotional scars and wounds. Also, by enacting multiple characters with a plethora of divergent human emotions, the participants learn to understand complex human emotions but also develop an emotionally rich personality capable of empathy.
Spiritual Dimension:

Theatre across the world has originated from religious rituals. Although religion and spirituality are not exactly the same, each religion has a component of spirituality. Traditional folk dramas with stories based on mythology beautifully connect the human & divine or the concrete, real and manifested world with the abstract, unreal and unmanifested world. Thus, theatre becomes a vehicle to transport the participants to a transcendental higher reality. It can also embark them on a journey to their inner worlds to explore the meaning & purpose of their own existence and lives.
Concluding, as a Teacher Educator, I strongly reiterate the need for incorporating theatre into the educational process. This does not imply that all teachers must be good playwrights, directors or actors. However, it does imply that teachers must be aware of the immense potential of theatre in education. It also suggests the need for the presence of theatre personnel in every educational institution and also a meaningful collaboration of institutions of academic disciplines with the institutions of Performing Arts.

We at K. J. Somaiya Comprehensive College of Education, Training & Research emphasize theatre training in our Teacher Education program through a course, ‘Drama, Art & Aesthetics in Education. The theatrical training is provided not only by theoretical knowledge but by organizing workshops on Dramatic Script Writing & Acting by professional theatre personnel, by encouraging students to participate in theatre as part of co-curricular activities and also incorporate theatre as a methodology during their internship programs in various schools.

 

By

Dr Sarla A Santwani

Principal,

K J Somaiya Comprehensive College of Education, Training and Research