As an individual who hailed from a family of bankers and CAs, I started out as a hotel management trainee who exited the career within 6 months to fulfil my parents’ dream of becoming a CA. After a few years of working with leading consulting firms I realised there is a calling – a calling into the world of characters, drama and acting. So, I detoured once again – this time to modelling, and finally to theatre, movies and TV. Not only did my career choices surprise my family, but I was left with a moral challenge as well: Does my chosen profession of acting, make a valuable contribution to the world when compared with the other professions I left behind? I guess this challenge has stuck with me and many others like me.
Today, with my experience as an actor, I wonder why not take the fun, excitement and experience of screen, beyond the screen, to the corporate world? As a first step in the direction, here are 5 ways in which theatre and cinema helps corporates empower themselves to express, bond and grow.
Some call it an instinct to empower, to project stories, to draw strengths from their favourite characters or to create meaning through narratives and metaphors. We see this instinct expressed freely in children when they act out real or imagined characters of cartoons on TV. Through our various exercises we tackle emotions in a creative and a human way. Cinema and theatre steers true and honest learning while promoting collaborative thinking and debate, giving an opportunity for individual expertise to flourish.
When we watch a movie, we learn what happens when intense drama, conflicts or arguments between characters don’t get resolved, and what happens when they do. Some of our cinema and theatre-inspired exercises help us develop our ability to imagine outcomes of our choices in our personal and professional lives. For instance, our ‘Over Expression’ exercise helps one to be aware of the body language and their expression, which unintentionally, could be harming a colleague.
Corporate training using cinema and theatre is not about sitting through slides of presentations or doing things individually. Here, people come together through various exercises, witnessing and contemplating acts, plays and engagements that are beautiful, thought-provoking, humorous, moving and often empowering. In an age when most of our communication happens through technology, we believe that getting people together to emote and share their ideas brings about major changes in an individual and in an organization as a whole.
Cinema provides a new standard for training that connects not only with the intellect but also the heart and body. The sheer enthusiasm, open-endedness and participatory nature of cinema and theatre unblocks creative energy and steers its spontaneous expression. The awareness and alertness created by this expression gets directly channeled to work. Moreover, it helps in greater flexibility, team cohesion, innovative responses and self-esteem.
It influences the way we think and feel about our lives. We experienced an intense example during a training session when a woman shared that one of our exercises made her realise that she pretended to be someone else when she was actually not that person. She felt suffocated to constantly play a role and was always chasing people’s expectations. We don’t hear things like this every day!
But speaking more broadly, isn’t this one of the things we go to the movies for, to measure our own lives against the lives we see of the character in the movie, to imagine what it would be like if we lived those lives instead? And to think, maybe there’s something we should change about our lives? It may have nothing to do with the message that the character or the movie wanted to deliver! It’s something you saw in yourself.
So, these are my five ways to tell you how cinema and theatre in the corporate world matters: It helps to express freely, builds our skills, brings people together, enhances creativity and spontaneity and influences how we think and feel about our own lives.