The World of Play

By Sanah Singh Tomar - Performance Coach at Maynard Leigh India 18th September 2018

I have been associated with Maynard Leigh Associates for the past six years. We work with the principles of theatre, psychology, learning & development to create transformation in the corporate world.

There is one vital word that is such an integral part of theatre that can also sum up my experience beautifully: it is the word play.

A play, as known by most of us, is a theatrical performance. However, a play can also mean to engage in fun activities with or without a purpose.

For me, it’s been a journey where I have been able to improve my work/life balance, through being thoroughly engaged and having a deep purpose of learning and giving back.

So, what did the world of "play" and its principles do for me?

It allowed me to access all parts that make the whole. Before I stepped into this world, I had strong beliefs of who I was and what I could or could not do. Playing challenged all of that. To perform at different levels, I needed to access the many characters that lived inside me - some of them dormant for years, and some not discovered at all.

Having previously worked in the hospitality world, I had sharpened the disciplined, dignified, and detail-oriented part of me, however I had also needed to pack away the playful, messy, vulnerable me. The space created by play allowed me to welcome back all of those characters. As a performer on stage or in the real world, your ability to access the right character at the right time for the right purpose is what creates peak performance.

Secondly, it gave me the ability to accept the cast that I have been given to perform with, and it repeatedly urged me to create an outstanding show for my audience. Irrespective of who the cast members are, where they come from and how they got there, the principles of play - and of the theatre -demand that we trust them completely. Trust is built by knowing each member deeply. It is a beautiful journey of curiosity, observation, finding commonality, and having permission to fail - for yourself and for others. Every person in a team has potential for success. Constant communication with each member is the only way to either realise this potential, or to release them for another space. A high potential group of performers in complete collaboration can be an energy to reckon with.

Finally, it strengthened in me the value of rehearsal. Rehearsing means to have complete focus on the task at hand, and to be able to practice the piece with the team several times. It brings forth characters of being well-organised and having rehearsal time and space, which is sacrosanct for theatre. This is what allows for performance to be fluid and free of error. However most performers in the real world are grappling with a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment. So how can the theatre world prepare you for that? The most essential elements of a rehearsal are spontaneity and improvisation, which can be fascinating and effective when applied to business. While you are performing, that moment of error or uncertainty on the stage can strike anytime. An actor’s ability to be present, think on their feet, to have no choice to be in victim mode and make a quick transition into action is crucial, because the show must go on!

Working with Maynard Leigh and all our clients has given me these invaluable lessons on performance. It has helped me grow and allowed me to share these along the way with many of my workshop participants and the people I coach. Yet, the journey of the last six years has been a breeze - because after all, it was pure play.

To find out more about how elements from the theatre can dramatically transform your business performance, contact us, or request a copy of Michael Maynard and Andrew Leigh's book Dramatic Success!

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