Theater Arts in Education

theater-arts-in-education

Theater is both a subject & a method, Subject on the curriculum, it uses various dramatic elements of movement, voice, concentration, improvisation and role play to aid the personal development of the pupil. As a method, it utilises role play and acting out to teach pupils through experience.

Performing arts has the ability of universal embrace of not just all disciplines but also socio-personal life scenario’s. Theater arts empowers pupils with the skills needed to communicate more effectively in whatever profession they decide to pursue.

History  

Theater Arts in India- Maharashtra

Modern Indian theatre developed during the period of colonial British rule from the mid-19th century until the mid-20th. Theater was a strong instrument of protest against colonial rule, and was resisted by the British Government . Theatres spread throughout India as one of the means of entertainment after Independence.

 

The Sangeet Natak’s in Maharashtra originated in sangli. Shri Vishnudas Bhave was instrumental in establishing and popularising Marathi theater back in 1840s. The first public performance on Marathi stage was of the play Seeta Swayamvar (सीता स्वयं‍वर) by Vishnudas Bhave in 1843…leading to later evolution ..till… Balwant Pandurang Kirloskar   staged his first musical play Shaakuntal on October 31, 1880 in Pune.

 

The new trend of Sangeet Natakas caught up with the popularity quite quickly. Earlier Sangeet Natakas were mainly based on small parts of mythological stories of Epics Ramayana and Mahabharata which would easily connect with the masses. With popularity & success, experimentation started on stage with abandoning mythological themes and bringing social issues to audiences.

 

The Drama Sangeet Sharada,  which portraying the feelings of a teenage girl to be married to a widower in his late seventies, championed the beginning of theatre conveying social message.

CCRT & Natyashala Charity Trust Mumbai

 

The Centre for Cultural Resources and Training in collaboration with Natyashala Charity Trust Mumbai organized a workshop at SNDT Women’s University – Juhu from 16th September 2016 to 24 September 2016  on importance of  “Theatre Arts in Education”, for teachers aiming at an an enhanced teaching learning experience .

 

The Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT) being one of the premier institutions in the field of linking education with culture. Established in 1979, pioneered by Smt. Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay and Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, it functions as an autonomous organization under the aegis of Ministry of Culture, Government of India. CCRT has been contributing to the strengthening of the foundation of the nation by making education culture based and meaningful.

Natyashala Charity Trust Mumbai was established on 13th January 1981 under the founder trustee guidance of Sh Kamlakar Sontakke & Shrimati Kanchan Sontakke.

Natyashala believes blending childhood with arts, blending connoisseurship, entertainment and education in a package that makes it attractive for children. Exposure to the arts at a young age will lay the foundation for a culture of understanding and appreciation that last a lifetime.

This workshop urges teachers to use theatre and participatory drama methodology to teach areas of the curriculum, social issues, life themes and have effective impact on changes of attitudes and practices, specifically on children & youth.

This Workshop can help child towards personal growth, social education, sensitivity & listening skills, language skills – self-expression, speech, thinking, non-verbal reading, writing etc.

Teachers were introduced to innovative art methods in classroom teaching that encourage creativity and sensitivity in the children. Teachers trained under this workshop have witnessed an integrated approach to education and is equipped to provide methodologies of a cultural input in curriculum teaching.

 

Training Day 1  16 September 2016

The first day of the workshop had few team building targeted exercises, where in participants from various colleagues got to know each other and got a road map on how the training program would progress in days to come.

Sh Kamlakar Sontakke, gave a brief introductory motivational speech to trainee teachers , on importance of Theatre Arts in Education. The 2013 Sangeet Natak Academy winner Sh Sontakke, inspired young blood to trying out new methodologies for creative work in classroom  teaching.

The art form of Kathakali was explained by him, sieved through the individual finesse ingredients of Literature (Sahithyam), Music (Sangeetham), Painting (Chithram),Acting (Natyam) and Dance (Nritham). The role of each of these elements is very vital in the making of Kathakali ……what it is, the King of performing arts, particularly theatre.

The veteran explained Various traditional musical instruments, their classification and benefits of soothing power of music, how it tremendously relaxes our minds and bodies, especially slow, soothing classical music.

 

Leadership at Natyashala.

Kamlakar Sontakke
Photograph of Sh Kamlakar Manohar Sontakke being awarded Academy Award for Direction :2013

HE  hold a mirror to the world around, filters those little grains of human emotions..and weaves enchanting tales that open windows of wonder…and life itself to the reader….

 

kanchan-sontake-with-nimh-students
Kanchan Sontake with NIMH Students after a workshop

Training Day 2    17 Sep 2016

Sh Devendra Shellar: famous mass cast choreographer, dancer, musician shared immensely enriching information on challenges faced while teaching dance to disabled children.  Many Traditional theatre art forms of India, were explained with demonstrations.  Trainee teachers were given a quick personal check on their stamina and energy levels through exercises and basic classical dance mudras & moves.

The second day of workshop focussed on rehearsing and mastering the dance moves to perfection. Practical tips on segmenting any complicated dance to simpler, easy to follow moves proved that all educational concepts ie, theatre art or Special education follow the common path of moving from simple to complex.

Mrs Kanchan Sontakke explained the necessity of enthusiasm both in art and life.

 

Training Day 3   19 Sep 2016

Sh Devendra Shellar, taught students to play rhythm with two strokes, four strokes, beats on five etc. After ensuring that his students has understood the concept, groups would be formed and each group will play in jugalbandi mode on beats.

Sh Bharth More , another renowned Mumbai theatre artist , shared valuable insights on Voice modulation and natural sounds made with help of body parts. Exercise in many forms were already known to almost all trainee teachers, however the importance of facial exercise, that include gums, inner side of cheeks, shinny 32 teeth of each individual…were very novel.

 

Training Day 4   -20 September 2016

Sh Bharth More, had more elements of surprise as participants were requested to perform Role play and enact ” scenes from Childhood”, like chasing a butterfly, eating a chocolate etc. . Special emphasis on expression, gross &Fine motor skills for disabled children were explained

With perfect preparedness, all the scenes and dance sections were clubbed in single string with and attempted to be performed as a single dance representation.

 

Shrimati : Yogita thambe

The right attitude will defy the worst of disabilities and it gives you the opportunity to live the life you wanted to live. Miss Yogita Thambe is a true example were disability is a mere “inability to see an ability”.

Miss Yogita Thambe is an eminent theatre personality and resource person at Natyashala. Born Blind , she plays more than 15 types of Musical Instruments and in a true sense is somebody who Overcame the hurdles of life and,, made a her  story worth talking about. She has done her Masters In Economics and enjoys choreographing & teaching children dance and music.

Kanchan Sontake with Yogita Tambe after the workshop
Kanchan Sontake with Yogita Tambe after the workshop

Training DAY 5-  21 Sep 2016

Day 5 of the workshop was focussed on MIME and importance of having strong and mobile articulators. Articulators include our lips, cheeks, jaw and tongue. Several exercises were taught to move in the right way in to produce various animal sounds and cries.

Mime: is explained in details by Natya Shastra as Mukabhinaya

As per Definition Mime is : Theatrical technique of suggesting action, character, or emotion without words, using only gesture, expression, and movement. The importance of MIME were mentioned even in Indian epics. Its quite amazing to see how facial expressions, hand signals and body motions …speak effectively without uttering a single word.

 

Vowels / consonants sounds, made by articulators are fragments of speech therapy and other oral motor exercises.  The fun art forms make therapy game based and interesting.

 

 

Training DAY 6 –  22 Sep 2016

On the 6th Day of the training the several integral elements of Dance were listed and explained in details with Demonstrations by Shrimati: Mansi Sontakke.  

Rasa {Sanskrit: रस lit. ‘juice’ or ‘essence} denotes an essential mental state and is the dominant emotional theme of a work of art or the primary feeling that is evoked in the person that views, reads or hears such an art work.

Bhava or Bhav appears in the sense of “becoming, being, existing, occurring, appearance’) .Rasa & Bhava compliments and builds on each other though they are fundamental to all of Indian art including dancemusic, musical theatre, cinema & literature.

 

A trained classical dancer herself Shrimati Mansi is the epitome of  “pretty agility”, in the form of elegant movement, poise, or balance.

The nine Rasa’s were explained as the essential aspects of energies that define a set of emotions & moods that belong to the same family.

An activity where trainee teachers enacted a particular mood sequence “ Rasa”  was thoroughly enjoyed as it taught teachers how Rasa affects the Body & Mind.

 

Training DAY 7 –  23 Sep 2016

Puppets or “Kathputli” is an ancient and popular form of folk entertainment and education. The Training program included making a glove puppets, with envelopes and crayons are worn on hands. The puppet was the aid to be used by trainees to enact a short animal story intended for the young audience of primary children.

All the previous day’s learnings were summing up subconsciously for the trainees, who used puppetry, voice modulation and gestures for their story.

Shrimati Kanchan Sontakke, gave very useful information on criteria to be followed while choosing of drama “for” , “and” enacted by children.

 

Training Day 8- 24 September 2016

Teachers were awarded participation certificates and an informal discussion on key take away from the workshop was done. Trainee teachers from various colleges got together and thanked Natyashala and CCRT for this amazing joy ride with indian theatre art forms.

 

Learnings from the workshop

 

The workshop created Greater an awareness of the natural and Evolving cultural heritage of India. Theatre activities can be used to teach emotion recognition, emotion expression, non-verbal behaviours and gestures, listening skills, eye contact, conversation skills, strategies to handle social situations, and several other critical social skills. Teachers are using masks to promote eye-contact and social skills, creating exercises to train individuals to refine observation skills, teaching body awareness through movement, building friendships through performance projects, and more.

The engagement of Theater arts in education for disabled child…starts with the evolved ability of a “Teacher”.  The ingredients of the Art form need to be fragmented to form the  domains on which the “Guru” or “Teacher”  works with the child.

Features of theatre-based strategies are especially useful when working with individuals with disabilities:

-The theatre is a safe place for individuals to try new things/make mistakes

-Theatre is inherently fun and motivating

-Theatre is highly STRUCTURED (an actor has prescribed lines and actions)

-Theatre strategies are usually inexpensive (just need an idea, space, and time)

-Theatre activities allow for repeated practice of specific skills i.e. appropriate responses in conversation, recognizing nonverbal facial expressions of others, both positive and negative, suitable greetings and farewells, initiating friendships and conversations with others, introducing others, conversational tones and appropriate voice volume, manners and conversational etiquette, accepting help and giving and receiving compliments.

 

A teacher who identifies the therapeutic effect of art in education, will also discover the following……..

 

Literature can…. form the overall domain of Academics, binding both reading & writing and imagination.

Music can…. unfold the domain of Listening, speaking and relaxing.

Painting can….  guide on the important aspect of self-expression, on Fine & Gross Motor abilities.

Acting can….  help child emote, express and communicate to others.

Dance movements in any form can…. improve gait, posture issues and body balance.

 

By organizing such workshop’s importance of theatre arts in Education [regular & special] “teachers and adults, we are preparing a generation which will be more creative, responsible and sensitive to their environment. These teachers should grow instrumental in training the young minds for thinking out of the box and introduce novel, motivational, creative aspects and use our rich culture an a powerful aid in education.

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