Applied Theatre in Corporate Training & Learning & Development

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In the early 1980s, theatre and art-based behavioral training were used for employee engagement incorporates. But in the 2000s, it was started to be embraced as a powerful training methodology. In India, over the past decade, theatre-based corporate training has evolved as well which is not mere role plays, ice-breakers, and team-building activities but a serious tool. Companies are using it for everything from behavioral adaptation, change management and leadership skills development to handling cultural and personal issues. Innovative Methodologies are used for grooming talent in the areas of Leadership, Unconscious Bias, Presentation Skills, Diversity & Inclusion, Self Mastery, Innovation & Creativity etc.

Drama Based Training

The term Applied Theatre emerged from ‘Drama education’ (or drama-in-education: DE or DiE) and ‘Theatre for Development’ (TfD). Drama Based Training (DBT) is neither a ‘role play’ nor a way of teaching ‘acting techniques’ for business. It is rather about learning through experience. DBT for business is an experiential change management tool. It helps the trainees or learners to identify, challenge and eventually change a certain set of unnecessary behaviors in the workplace. Drama training With the expertise of professional actors, DBT brings the complex business practices, issues, and processes to life in a variety of social and informal settings rather than a traditional theatre where the trainees are actively involved which usually aims to serve behavioral change. DBT is a unique, relevant, powerful training approach which allows breaking away from the norm and allows the trainees to see things from a different perspective. In the case of an Interventional Theatre workshop, the employees are encouraged to explore alternative approaches. Rather than acting themselves, they need to direct the actors to modify their behaviors to influence the ultimate outcomes of a scenario or situation. This helps the upper management or higher authorities to have a look at challenging issues or their workforce in a very safe and sound environment where it’s OK to get it wrong. Working in this way allows trainees, participants or the employees to process the entire scenario and to discuss or simply start again to explore effective solutions to contribute positively to the business. Few of other unconventional and effective training modes are:

  • Applied Theatre
  • Scenario Playing
  • Story Telling: This encourages leadership through stories
  • Deep Dive: Technique for discovering the infinity inside
  • Gamification, Tech-Games, Field Games, Group Cooking
  • Art/ Poetry
  • Dance Therapy: Body movement
  • Beat Boxing and Body Percussion
  • Film/ Video Logs
  • Peer Therapy

Applied Theatre, Film & Multimedia, Live theatre has proven to build motivation, accelerate learning and confidence aiding personal development. While applying a theatre mode in the training and development of employees or trainees, scripted scenarios are written to highlight the key areas that need improvement. Drama development techniques and traditional training methods combined with these scenarios, help to enact the state’s issues and stimulate debate around the obvious questions and queries. This debate helps them to reach a positive and motivational solution. “Arts-based training is part of overall strategy and commitment of McGraw Hill to help surface creativity,” said Terry McGraw, former Chairman, and CEO of McGraw-Hill Companies. A few years back, ITC has utilized DBT for its frontline managers to refine qualities like influencing, negotiation, conflict resolution, and assertive communication. Hindustan Aeronautics, on the other hand, rather than conventionally training its batch of management trainees, asked them to prepare a script based on any of their management books and enact a theatre play. Other organizations like Microsoft, Google, Wells Fargo, Vodafone, Accenture, Vedanta, Cisco, Bajaj Finance, Hindustan Aeronautics, Volvo, Yahoo, Puma, Nokia, 24/7, GSK, Sun Pharma, have adopted this methodology across areas like Managerial Competency Trainings, Productivity in sales, Leadership Development, Time Management, Team Bonding, Interpersonal Behavioral Approach, Capacity Building, Positioning yourself in an organization, Corporate and Social Behavior, Assertiveness, Conflict Resolution, Soft Skills, Motivation and self-reliance, Anger Management, Stress Management, Business Communication, Presentation Skills, Leadership & Attitude Management, and nonetheless, Stress Buster. Organizations are not the only one who’s realizing this effective method of learning and development. UK based Northumbrian Water and the Western Sydney University in Australia have discovered TIS (Theatre in Schools) as an innovative way to engage, challenge and inspire young people, children, and teens.

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About Dasarathan Elumalai

Educated in Human Resources, my journey has its roots in HR, Workforce Management, Business Operations, Vendor Management, Compliance & Audits, and Automation. Since 2000, People & Process have been the centre of my professional universe. My preferred style of leadership is leading from the front and by example. Pride myself to be Hands On. Effectively empower and give enough space for teams to independently take responsibility and execute. Bold to experiment, take risks, a keen learner, am constantly evolving and reinventing myself. Committed to creating an environment, where competence, a culture of process compliance and transparency is nurtured and fostered.

Posts by Dasarathan Elumalai