Setting the stage for better communication

Special Correspondent
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Theatre breaks through language and cultural barriers; a useful communication tool: actor

TALKING THEATRE:Actor Manu Jose leads a workshop on communication, in Thrissur on Sunday.— Photo: By special arrangement
TALKING THEATRE:Actor Manu Jose leads a workshop on communication, in Thrissur on Sunday.— Photo: By special arrangement

A workshop held at the Thrissur Press Club on Sunday explored how acting tools can be used for improving communication skills.

Actor Manu Jose led the workshop.

How can theatre, which is all about channels of dialogue and non-verbal exchanges between characters, be used to improve communication skills in life and work situations?

“The possibilities are immense,” said Mr. Jose. “Theatre breaks through language and cultural barriers. It is an extremely useful communication tool. Every situation in life demands us to act well. Our success in life depends on how wisely, appropriately and naturally we do it. All the world’s a stage and all men and women merely players.”

Man does not communicate with words alone. Non-verbal communication includes facial expression, body language, gestures, signs and use of space. When one uses words and non-verbal tools appropriately, one becomes a better communicator. Good communication also requires true empathy.

“To win the audience's attention, an actor uses space effectively. His words, facial expressions, body language and gestures are fine-tuned to deliver what he wants to the spectators,” Mr. Jose said.

Much of one’s personal development relates to overcoming the conditioning of the mind. “Overcoming a conditioning is not easy. It may be painful or irritating. But a transformation can perhaps occur only through pain or discomfort,” he observed.

Using theatre games, he introduced the subject of Transactional Analysis (TA), a theory of modern psychology. Founded by Eric Berne, TA is widely used as a tool for personal and professional development. It helps people enrich their relationships and understand themselves.

According to TA, each person is made up of different alter ego states, mainly Parent (controlling or nurturing), Adult (the ‘grown up’ rational person who talks reasonably and assertively, neither trying to control nor reacting aggressively towards others) and Child (adapted, rebellious, natural or trickily exploring).

“When two people communicate, there is a ‘transaction’. Most of our problems arise from transactions that are unsuccessful. A person is free to move between different alter ego states. But he becomes successful when he does it with the heightened awareness fostered by the Adult in him, his rational self,” Mr. Jose said.

He has acted in plays directed by B.V. Karanth, Kavalam Narayana Panicker, S. Ramanujam, Indira Parthasarathy, Alaknanda Samarth, Maya Tangberg and Jose Chiramel.

An alumnus of Calicut University’s School of Drama and Fine Arts and Pondicherry Central University, he has been associated with non-governmental organisations working with tribal communities of Gudalur and Nilgiris. He has compiled and edited a book, Mullakurumbarude Kalippattukal , a seven-part album of Mullakurumba tribal songs.

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