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07 Oct 2022, Edition - 2642, Friday

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How theater helps in team building

Indrani Thakurata


Corporates always emphasise on team building. Infact, when they recruit, they evaluate you on your strengths; one of which is, how much of a team player are you. From time to time, HR works out strategies to get the team together in the form of a team outing, team lunch or dinner.

But there are more ways of team bonding, and very effective ones. Theatre of the oppressed was created by the Brazilian stage director Augusto Boal in the 1960s. Theatre of the oppressed is generally used to expose relationship problems; power imbalances that has the potential to derail teamwork.

Theatre as a tool for behavioral training is gaining ground in Indian Corporate Scene for the last 5 years and 2 of the key themes in which it has been used extensively is team building and effective communication. Theatre and Training have people at behaviour at its core and that’s why this works!

“There are many ways of team building but theatre somehow works in a great way. People open up, they reveal true intentions and malfunctions in a tea. Sometimes without verbal communication, they are able to speak so much through their body language. Even the inhibited will become uninhibited,” says Sudeshna Saha, HR of a multinational company in Bangalore.

Explaining how theatre is an effective tool Sunil Vishnu K, the co-founder of Training Sideways says, “When Group M wanted to equip its advertising professionals to be able to sell the digital story to its clients or when USL wanted storytelling to be part of their pitches, Storytelling techniques from Training Sideways was deployed. Theatre at its core is about storytelling , ability to tell a story through acting, script, screenplay, dialogues, body language and hence has direct result on roles like sales, customer service, client facing roles, where all these aspects matter the most right. From entry level ppt training to people manager negotiation training to leadership executive presence, theatre based techniques instill confidence and skill to communicate more impact fully. Today Training Sideways ‘corporate storytelling’ is one of the most wanted programs in its menu of offerings applied to one on one, one to many, many to one communication scenarios.”

He adds, “And ofcourse when sideways has used ‘interactive play-shops’ (play +workshop) , medium of corporate theatre performance has been used to spread awareness about topics like inclusion, diversity, sales techniques, prevention of sexual harassment in companies like Reckit Benckiser, 3M, Metlife, Sandisk, and Fresh Desk.”

A new team forming? An old team with silos? A global team meeting? A team building outing? Theatre is the best way! From Accenture to Vodafone, Google to Metlife, Citibank to Cognizant , theatre and art based team building programs have been used and the reason is it delivers results better than any other medium.

Theatre based techniques create a safe environment and use Emotional Quotient to encourage people in a team to open up, talk , share, resolve differences and bond . The 4 tenets of building trust, empathy, bias for action and mutual win win come out in the workshops with ‘language no bar’! “It is important that professionals are hired for this activity. In general, people talk about theatre being a tool for someone who is shy in expressing. And when in an official environment, people tend to be more uptight. So, theatre breaks the barriers very easily and suddenly you find yourself opening up, expressing that helps in recognising the real issues in a team,” says Preeti K, an employee in ICICI.

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