Theatre to social workers’ aid: Learning to open up and help others
Bhopal: They ran around, laughed wholeheartedly, pushed and pulled each other, fell down and scrambled. One moment they strategized against each other, the other they hugged intently.
And no they were not a bunch of school kids. They were a group of serious social activists in the age group of 25-45, who normally spend their days talking and working on issues like malnutrition, food safety and all kinds of rights for deprived people.
But at a four day ‘theatre-in-education’ workshop organized by advocacy group Vikas Samvad, the serious workers turned into uncomplicated human beings – learning about themselves and opening up their minds – so that they could in turn help the community in a better way.
And the man in the centre of this four-day transformation of field toughened activists is Walter Peter, a proponent of theatre in education with its scope widened from children to people working in different sector – from social to corporate.
Peter is the founder of Laa Po Laa – Theatre in Education India – a platform that works across the country with different sets of people, helping them to understand themselves better and harness maximum self-potential to use it for betterment in chosen field of work.
Why is TIE necessary? Peter explained it to NewsBits.in. According to him schools have become factories with no scope of experiential learning. Everything is rote with no scope for the students or even teachers to express themselves with full potential. The present result-oriented system leads to extreme pressure on the students, leaving them tortured.
This is mainly because the tools of practical, experiential learning are missing and there is no integration of available creative options that could help young people open up and participate in the entire life process around them.
Similarly, in the different work sectors, the system keeps people and their minds in a bind, drowning their potential and often personality.
Theatre – including drama and allied arts like painting, drawing, writing, poetry, music, songs, dance, puppetry and others- could help children and even adults realize their own potential and worth and in turn help them do better in their chosen field, Peter, an ex-member of TIE of National School of Drama says.
During the Vikas Samvad organized workshop, the social activists from different parts of MP, did exactly that: Learnt the ways of expressing themselves to fullest by engaging in various individual and group activities based on theatrics and allied arts.
Anand of Adiwasi Adhikar Manch, Satna, who has been working in field of food security for almost two decades, said that the opportunity to participate in the workshop has not only given him tools to engage with community in his work arena, but also helped him learn about himself. “I would often get stressed and angry after facing issues at work, but now I think I would be able to deal with it better,” he said.
Arti of Vikas Samvad, also a participant, said that it opened up the participants to an extent that they themselves were surprised. “I feel I have learnt a lot about myself and also about ways to engage with others,” she said.
Sachin Jain of Vikas Samvad said the theatre was held to give the field workers a chance to find new ways of engaging with community and also to look into themselves and understand their own strengths and weaknesses. “A mind open to itself can certainly understand societal issues better and deal with them even better,” he said.