How theater classes changed my life

The scene, the glow of the colourful lights, wonderful scenery! Who wouldn’t want to become an object of admiration and inspiration! For as long as I can remember I have distinguished between two things – coaching and mentoring. I don’t want to get into deciding which is better, but personally I choose mentoring. Well provided, it can lead to a great improvement

The same applies to choosing training courses or buying books. Before I focus my attention on content, I look for opinions, reviews, verify the information contained therein. I think that in a situation where one already has a master’s degree in a certain field, it is easier to search for the flavours that interest me the most and that I need. There came a point where I felt I needed something beyond written content. I kind of wanted to get to grips with what I already knew and what I was still missing. Seemingly, in my career I have provided training for managers, salespeople or even worked with people who asked me for support in preparation for interviews. Yes, such simulated situations. It’s pretty cool, I personally recommend it😉. Whereas further down the line, I was at the stage of sharing what I already know and can do versus what I can still do for myself.

If we were to google it up, we would certainly find quite a lot of training courses on presentation, public speaking, body language and so on. That is everything we need to stand on that stage, but are all these trainings really valuable? Still, what I came across did not quite meet my expectations. I felt it wasn’t quite what I had in mind. After all, I know the correlations if it comes to subject-matter, I get what it’s all about, I don’t need to dwell on it, I need to build my awareness and put it into full-fledged practice. So, I’ve submitted my application – quite unconventionally, but if someone already knows me, it won’t surprise them – for admission to a one-year theatre school… of performative arts.

I already knew A Part – that’s the name of the theatre, remembered them for their unconventional creativity and the unique magic and unusualness of their performances. As usual, I felt the power, sent in my application, and started to feel uncertain of my abilities. I was sobered up by a phone call. I got a call from Monika Wachowicz, who was the supervisor of the group that was about to be formed. She is also a great actress, educator and lecturer. We had a frank discussion about my candidacy, my concerns, my expectations. I must admit, her kind, respectful and understanding approach to my fears and concerns, bought me in. I trusted and felt for the first time that seriously something could come out of it. Yes, it was Monika who was our mentor there in the full sense of the word.

And so it began. Our training was divided into two terms of practising and preparing for stage work, and two terms of working on the performance. Huh, well nothing difficult after all, I have performed many times on stage or in front of an audience, I thought it was no problem. What defeated me? Exposing the true side, the vulnerable one What else? Suddenly, I found that when I wasn’t in an environment I was familiar with, my demons started to rise inside of me – such as my fear of being judged, that I didn’t look good enough, that it was silly, that I wouldn’t make it, and “oh no, everyone looks better than me”. And all this just because one thing changed – I lost the base such as familiar place and people. This threw me off track, to be honest.

Working on a show – that’s something! Everything that was put into the script and scenery was created by… ourselves. We were given a general outline of the idea and this is where it started. Each of us was given the general guidelines of a particular scene and character and was expected to perform just as they felt it, an hour of preparation and off we went. What was it for? On this basis, we created almost real situations, real characters, because everything we did on that stage flowed out of us. Then, of course, the discussion started about who felt what more, etc. However, what is most important – when we stepped onto the stage, we were our characters. Literally.

Several consecutive weekends, we presented our work to the audience. If one were to attend this show every week, one would observe that… it literally never looked the same. The longer we worked on this project, our characters evolved, strengthened, were alive, on stage, but still real 😉. Stepping outside the theatre walls I was Ola again, but I know that on stage my character could breathe.

I learned many values in theatre, but the ones I remember are Monika’s words ‘You don’t play, you are on task. If you can feel it, others will see it too.” Frankly speaking, I also experienced a unique phenomenon there. When you don’t care about what you’re wearing, what you look like, reject unhealthy comparisons to others that are created in your head, you’re in a space with no stimuli, and only then you can really feel yourself. You hear the needs of your body, your head. You start to respect and appreciate what you have. Of course, breaking through the wall of complexes was a hard work, but today I think that time there was one of the best things I experienced.

What else have I learned from that? Don’t pretend anything. Our subconscious and our body are really wise, we just need to learn to listen to them and use it. It is not perfectionism that makes us specialists, but awareness, respect for emotions and truthfulness. Do I think working on stage is a great preparation for providing trainings, for example in health and safety or GDPR? Oh yes, I do. This is a scene too, and this is also where our real expert face is most welcome. And regarding what’s appropriate or not, I’ve already expressed my opinion and haven’t changed my mind😉.

text written by:

Aleksandra Lipowska-Rochalska, HR Director