I remember so distinctly the very first drama class I walked into. I must have been about 8 years old.
This was a gathering of loud, happy, very tall (I was the youngest) people at a space called R and B. Restaurant and Bookstore was a ... Restaurant and Bookstore, as the name suggested, run by a friend of my Dad's, Jayapriya Vasudevan.
She had invited a lady called Kirtana Kumar to her space. Kirtana sat her class down in a circle. And in that class she asked us to read and understand bits of Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare.
I am not sure how long that class went on, but for a few minutes - that felt like a few hours - I got to read for Puck, the naughty fairy.
And this is the part I remember the most. I felt alive. I felt like I was floating. It was like an out of body experience. It was so strange to be in a class where I was asked to move and jump and run, to express myself fully, to be more of everything I knew.
It sure was different from what I knew to be a 'class' - a place where children read words in their minds, and sat still and where they became smaller than they felt.
I knew then, that I had found love. I loved it. I loved words coming alive. I loved moving. I loved this feeling of chaos in class. The games, the trust, the feeling of being part of something larger than myself and that's why I do what I do.
Drama changes lives. It changed me. It will change you, and your children and here is why.
1. Drama is about Imagination: Do you remember what it was like to play as a child? You would pick up a stick and it would become a gun. You would drape a bedsheet and it would become a tent. This is drama. Drama tells you that the only reality you present on stage is the reality you imagine. Color this imaginary world as you please and your audience will believe you. If that isn't magic, then what is? Scientists, Mathematicians, Entreprenuers - they all have one thing in common - they imagine new things before they make new things. Hence proved.
2. Drama teaches empathy: About a hundred times in every drama lesson at the hive, we say the words "So how do you think he/she feels about this?" Through stories we inhabit other realities.
We maybe sitting in an air conditioned room in Bur Dubai, but through our drama we travel to Charlie Bucket's chocolate factory in England and Malala's school bus in Pakistan. We feel what they felt, we understand why they acted as they did and how to understand realities that look nothing like ours, through the words of storytellers.
3. Drama teaches Collaboration: Drama requires many people. Every role, every actor doing their part in moving the story forward. That's not all. An actor can't do his part without the light by the light technician on his face, and his story doesn't come alive without sound. Collaboration on stage is REAL. Children learn to soak in the spotlight as much as they learn to hold up a light to someone else's face. And that the play, is only the play when everyone does their part.
4. Drama teaches confidence: As adults, how often we feel this. At a work or social gathering someone asks us to come up on stage and speak, or move. 'US?' we think. "No,no, no! I'll stand here and speak, but please don't make me stand on stage". Our hands get clammy. Small beads of sweat on our forehead, all of a sudden. Our stomach feels a bit knotted. And our heart feels like it's pounding in our chests. Stage fear is real. And if it wasn't for the fear of being the focus of all the attention in the room, maybe we would have spoken up louder voiced those ideas or even taken up that opportunity to lead. At the hive, kids spend time every, single class standing up on stage in front of their peers. Soon, it becomes a habit. And the fear around standing in front of an audience completely disappears.
We are very proud to say that almost every single hive parent has at reached out to say that their child puts their hand up in school class more often and is less scared of leading. I could go on forever about why drama means so much to me, and why all children should have the privilege of drama lessons, but I'll stop here.
Drama made me feel like I had a space to be myself, and yet be someone else. It gave me an escape and yet, it gave me the language through which to understand my own reality and the reality of others. It made me read more. It made me feel more. It taught me grace and team work. And it continues to teach me more and more lessons every, single day. I hope to bring a little bit of that magic fairy dust to every child whose lives we touch. I hope that we can have more little bees flying around, feeling more alive than ever.
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