“Drama enables you to live yourself under different circumstances. You do not need to be another person, just put yourself in that situation and … act”, said my dear drama professor.
Learning Drama at Business School – does that sound crazy? yah … super crazy yet crazily motivating, crazily relevant and crazily creative. That’s the way my first week of the 2nd semester at IÉSEG started. Named as ‘Self confidence and relational efficiency through drama‘ and lasts just a week, this course is definitely not designed to neither train us to become an actor/ actress nor train us to tell lies when doing business. To me, it is about to give us a sense of naturally use our body, emotion and language to express ourselves confidently and respect others sincerely. And the most important purpose of this course is … to have FUN!
Every class started with a 20-minute warm up exercise to wake the whole body up, getting us ready for 3 hours of playing roles. We breathed, walked, stretched muscles and joints with mindfulness, gave and received energy to and from classmates with sincerity through gestures and eye-contact. The course is designed with various amazing and increasingly difficult activities through pieces of play that help us to step by step remove our hesitation, build up our openness in front of audience, grasp some technical skills to speak, talk and act with emotion and impact.
We run a funny kind-of Thank God You’re here!‘ show (*) through improvised situation which helped a lot in breaking the ice and practicing spontaneity of the improvisation and stimulating our sense of humor. There’re ways to transfer accurately and lively our messages not by saying too many words but by using our body movement, gestures, facial expressions and eye-contact. And that’s what we practiced in the One-word Scene where we acted out a scene using only one word sentences to encourage more physical acting which delivered lots of sentiments and implications from the story without words. It is true that sometimes ‘we say it best when we say nothing at all’. Even though I did those activities in a little bit strained manner at first, but enjoyed them a lot as I was experiencing something that I had not done before. Just feel COOL!
From Crossed-portrait speech to Monologue Show
We spent time listening to partner’s personal memories with care and then delivered a short solo sketch telling the stories we received as if we lived in that memory. Wow … that sounds simple but requires us to carefully and sincerely accept the stories in order to associate and interpret it to the audience like it’s our own memories. I volunteered to act first and told the story of a male classmate that I had just listened to 15 minutes before. Wow, I could do it and did it quite well cos at that stage I started relaxing and letting the emotion freely flow and grow internally and spread out naturally through my voice, face, eyes which had been guided days before to keep the intimate connection with audience.
The second individual challenge was the Monologue show in which each of us chose a real given script to perform in 3 to 5 minutes. I got the scene of ‘Confessional of Love‘ from the ‘Magnolia’ (1999) which was a tragedy scene. A little bit nervous before the show, but this time when on stage, I totally relaxed (I dont know why) and let myself live the character’s situation naturally, which had been again and again guided and explained by our professor days before. I was Lynda to confess to Alan – the lawyer about the love she had for her near-death husband, Earl. I saw the sorrow and sympathy in the eyes of my audience, they were touched and totally into the character’s situation, which absolutely motivated me to go with my emotion flow to lead the play. Yeah, I did clearly sense their feelings and catch their energy. I have never felt that before. It’s just so AMAZING!
From playing one scene of the Roberto Zucco (**) to building up our own play
Another mission was acting a for scene in the Roberto Zucco play with given script. We step by step did the cold reading, learnt script, rehearsed and performed with our own creativity. Five groups with the same script but brought different colors to each characters we played. More interestingly, for every piece of play, our professor directed us to develop further based on each team’s creative idea and characteristics. We did again and again, each time adding some tiny improvement. This activity was really helpful for our last show of running our own play made from scratch which was also our ‘final exam’. Each team came up with ideas, built our plot, wrote down the pitch, prepared the script and acted with professor’s follow throughout the process. I played the role of a woman fighting for her 10-year-old son with disability in pronouncing clearly to be admitted to a star school. Soft, but strong and somehow a bit opportunistic, this woman dared to threaten the Dean to get her boy accepted. It was such a big change in feelings and types of character that I had to play throughout the week, giving me a chance to renew myself. The last-day show was exceptional because everyone were totally relaxed, comfortable on the stage and conveniently giving and receiving emotions.
Well, “it is impossible to approach good work without working with good people” (***). And luckily, I was in such a great group of students under the guidance of a super inspiring professor – Mr. Franck ANDRIEUX who is an Actor and a Theatre Director. This class should not have impressed me that much if I had not worked with those extraordinary people. I was totally blown away by my professor’s warm voice with incredible intonation, flexible body language, genuine sincerity and inspiring and beautiful words he used to guide and motivate us throughout 5 days. It was his sincerity and passion for giving and sharing that ignites all of us and bring out our potential of art and acting.
It was an unforgettable week of experiencing many different levels of emotion and discovering a different angle and capability of mine. Never before did I think that I could act on the stage; but this week, I came to know that I could! Confident public speaking with emotional impact and tight teamwork are also part of the course. Those are definitely not the only things I got from this week. It also reminds me that as a person, we need to offer and accept positive energy, mutual respect and great compassion to/from others with sincerity and carefulness, regardless of how different we are, to allow the openness and mutual development in the community we are in. Last but not least, for leadership development, an important factor is to acknowledge, nurture and inspire peers to be the best they can and event to tap into their unknown potential like how we were sparked throughout the week. And Drama is totally a must-have class in Business School, I trust!
(*) An Australian television improvised comedy program which has also been produced in Vietnam – my home country – under the name ‘Ơn Giời Cậu đây rồi!’
(**) Roberto Zucco, a play written by a French writer Bernard-Marie Koltès
(***) Cate Blanchett, a talented Australian actress and theatre director who won 02 Academy Awards, 03 Global Golden Awards, 02 acting Oscars with 7 times being nominated.