What can theatre do for children?
In theatre, since there are no re-runs and everything is live, anything that can probably go wrong will. When things don’t go according to plan and you learn how to improvise, you are not just doing your part, you are holding the fabric together. That gives immense confidence.
Dr. Zulfia Shaikh, Founder – Bangalore School of Speech and Drama (BSSD) and mother of a eighteen-year-old boy
When my daughter started theatre five years ago, she was an introvert. She kept to herself and didn’t talk much. Because of theatre, she came out of her shell. She was made captain of her House in school and I think that is only because of her theatrical experience.
Dr. Rathna Ghose, Mother of a seventeen-year-old girl and teacher at an international schoo
I find that both my children now have tremendous self-belief, confidence, and better inter-personal skills.
Mr. Ramu Sharma, Stock Broker and father of a eighteen-year-old girl and a twelve-year-old boy.
Even if you think you are a very expressive person, through theatre, you realise where you are going wrong. Language, pronunciation and public speaking abilities improve tremendously.
Kunahan Thampi, a sixteen-year-old who has been involved in theatre for two years
Theatre is a medium to express oneself; for shy people or introverts, it is a healthy alternative to bottling up their feelings.
Attreyee Ghose, an eighteen-year old who has been involved in theatre for five years
You become more aware of how you communicate with others and how you come across to others. Playing different characters literally puts you in other people’s shoes and you understand different feelings, emotions and points of view better.
Sameer Vijaykumar, a nineteen-year-old who has been theatre for eleven years.
Involvement in theatre builds character. Once you have mustered the courage to go up onstage and even do something ridiculous, you can face sticky situations in life – like beingin a group of people you are not comfortable with or holding your own in an argument.”
Hasnain Shaikh, an eighteen-year-old who has been in theatre for ten years
Great, when can my child start?
As mentioned earlier, pretend play can naturally lead to some theatre activities. In fact, ‘Toddler Theatre’ for children aged 2-3 years, is a trend that is gaining ground. Yes, you read that right! Fairly popular in Germany and England, this idea has caught on in India too. For instance, in Chennai, Aysha Rau of The Little Theatre conducts close-knit sessions with eight toddlers each, who play imaginative games. Not all theatre practitioners are completely sure about this trend though. Some experts feel that 6-7 years is the ideal age to start, as children of this age can appreciate the emotional aspects of theatre better. So, there is no exact answer and it appears that your child can start as soon as she and you are ready! Later in this article, we have some useful suggestions on how parents can nurture an interest in theatre, at home.
How can my child start formal theatre classes?
Most theatre groups in the major cities in India that work with adults, often have a programme for children as well. Sometimes, these are production-targeted endeavours, and children aged 13-18 may be involved. For younger children aged 7-13, theatre groups organise workshops during summer or winter breaks. Again, these may be production-oriented workshops (especially during summer) at the end of which your child will participate in a performance or process oriented workshops to gain specific skills through theatre – communication, confidence or public speaking. A word of caution is in order at this juncture. Theatre is becoming popular and figures more and more in the ‘must-do’ lists of parents —leading to a mushrooming of outfits offering classes and workshops to cater to this “growing demand.” Not all of these places may be right for your child and parents should be diligent and enquire about the philosophy and process of the group before enrolling their child.