Academics are important but in life being a clear and confident speaker is as important
‘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, his acts being seven ages. At first, the infant, … Then the whining schoolboy….. And then the lover…..’
William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II, Scene VI,
‘Kati natak gareko?’ I can see some parents smile. You have been repeating these words for umpteenth times during the day with your over-imaginative child and you feel your child is doing all these just to annoy you. Parents, you might be wrong about this. I know some of you are saying, ‘what about the time my daughter was standing in front of my dressing table, all smeared with lipstick imitating me, wearing my dupatta as a sari and had my high heels on? She even tore my dupatta with the heels and had lipstick all over’. Or the other time your son was wearing his father’s/grandfather’s glasses the wrong way and pretending to read a newspaper or had his towel wrapped around his waist while going to the bathroom just like his dad?
Annoyed, you yelled at them. You even extracted a promise from them that they would never do those things again. Well, think of it this way, will you? They were trying to experience how it feels like to be the people they were imitating. They do not think like an adult while trying their hand at drama. Still they do their best imitation. Be proud they had the confidence to do it in front of you.
Let me change the scenario. You are invited to parent’s day and you see your child copying your mannerisms at home, and your reaction is, ‘Awww! So sweet!’ The only difference is that an adult supervises one, while the other is unsupervised, created by your child. I can see some parents frown and saying, ‘So what’s the big deal?’ Well, this just proves children have dramatists in them.
Your reaction is bound to be, ‘they should study and not spend time in dramatics. Or may be a little when participating in annual day drama.’ Perhaps you think that learning drama is a waste of time and that children are better off reading and writing. Of course your children are very good academically, but do they have other skills as well?
I agree with you, academics are very important, but being confident and clear speaker is as important in life. Chances are that at school your child spends majority of the time focused on reading and writing and not much on oratory or music or even sports because everything is focused on tests. I know parents too want their children to excel in their exams. So its study, study and study for them without any distraction. Then again, have you noticed that our life is full of drama and we without knowing are the protagonists of the dramas in our lives?
We do it every single day: put on a smile on our face in front of our children, even when we really feel like crap. We feel lousy and sick, but put on a brave face at the office or in front of our relatives. If we freely gave in to our emotions, our lives would be miserable! So you see it is an essential component of life. Of course there is a lot to learn from drama.
The other day I stumbled across a television program on Netflix while looking for new children’s shows. I was pleasantly surprised to see a new program there: Julie’s Greenroom. It featured my favorite actress, Julie Andrews. The program turned out to be about drama. I thought: what is there to teach in drama to the children, but I was pleasantly surprised. As the video progressed, I realized there were so many things I did not know, forget the children. The first thing being, ‘whatever happens, the show must go on’. Now that is a very good attitude to lift the spirits of children to give their best under the worst of circumstances, no not just in acting, but also in real life.
Forget about complaining, and get along the best you can. Oh and if you don’t like the word ‘drama’, there is always ‘theater arts’. The next special thing for me was that ‘theater arts’ does not discriminate, anyone can learn; even the wheelchair users can dance and perform ballet. Now isn’t that amazing? There is so much to learn from theater arts.
In theater arts children learn a wide range of ways to communicate, like projecting their voices and speaking clearly. Good communication skills help children make good friends and have an easier time later in life to find and hold a good job. They also learn to read those subtle cues we constantly use while interacting with others. While engaging in theater arts, children learn that important quality of empathy, if briefly; and they learn to experience how someone else thinks and acts under different circumstances. They also learn that throat is the best instrument and everyone can sing. At the same time they also learn about percussion: to make music by practically anything. Isn’t that great?
Finally, drama requires the child be put into circumstances—physically, mentally and emotionally¬—that are outside their understanding of how things should be. This helps them grow as a person, overcome their shyness and gain confidence. At the same time they learn to understand theatrical terms like ‘greenroom’ (no it’s not a room painted green), improvise, comic timing, wings, fly, musical, script, ghost light or even pantomime and so many other terms. Children learn to explore their creative skills and to be imaginative. All these make life exciting. So parents, if you have access to Netflix, go ahead to kids section and watch ‘Julie’s greenroom’ with your children. Who knows, you might like it too, along with your children. Now that is a good idea, right parents?
The author is an educationist and author of several children’s books