The World of Play

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

I have been associated with my organization for the past 6 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 the theatre world and can also sum up my experience is the word PLAY.

A play as simply known by most of us is a theatrical performance. A play can also mean engaging in fun activities with or without a purpose.

For me it’s been a journey where I have been able to better my work/life performance, being thoroughly engaged (in a super fun way) with a deep purpose of learning and giving back.

So, what did this precious world of Play and the principles it operates on, 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 couldn’t 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, had sharpened the disciplined, dignified and attention to detail part of me, but it had also asked me to pack away the playful, slightly messy, vulnerable me. This space allowed me to welcome back all 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 repeatedly urged me to create an outstanding show for the audience. Irrespective of who the cast members are, where they come from and how they got there, the principle of theatre/play demands that we trust them completely. Trust is built by knowing each member deeply.

Working so closely that the authentic self is not hidden anymore. It is a beautiful journey of curiosity, observation, finding commonality and having permission to fail (for self and others). Every person in a team is potential for success. Constant communication with this member is the only way to either realize this potential or release him/her for another space. A high potential group of performers in complete collaboration can be an energy to reckon with.

Usually with high performance can come higher egos and nothing can disturb the equilibrium of performance more when these inequalities begin to seep in. If ego is bad for performance, so is low self- esteem. They both are the true villains of the plot because they feed off each other. Give ego low self esteem and see the plot thicken, give ego more ego and it will become the biggest barrier to communicating. Give the ego nothing, no part of your precious energy, just as it deserves.

Lastly it strengthened in me the value of rehearsal. Rehearsing means to have complete focus on the task at hand and be able to practice the piece with the team several times. It brings forth characters of being well organized and having rehearsal time and space which is sacrosanct for theater. This is what allows for performance to be fluid and error free. However most performers in the real world are grappling with VUCA*. So, when does the theatre world prepare you for that? The most essential elements of a rehearsal is spontaneity and agility, which can equally be fascinating and effective. 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 his/her feet, to have no choice to be in victim mode and make a quick transition into a player is crucial, because...the show must go on!

Working with Maynardleigh 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 6 years has been a breeze because after all it was pure PLAY.

VUCA *(Volatile Uncertain Complex Ambiguous).

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