In the midst of noise in the circle of theatrical exercise at the university, some faces were puzzled, many were apprehensive not too sure how to let loose their bodies.When the theatre artist/trainer asked them to freely move arms and legs and do the Alexander technique, they stared back at me as if bodily freedom is some prohibited act. World over this technique is used to overcome not only bodily functional restrictions but mental ones too. The act of coordination in Williamson technique turned out to be the most difficult one for them. Later onwards each one of the participant was supposed to shout out a number without overlapping with other group members. The tenth time we all were able to focus on the flow of each other’s energy and the space needed for the invisible power of sound creation. None of them were overpowering and reached the harmony and coordination. This was the beginning of a theatrical workshop with the very talented Sana Jafri.Being a teacher of Gender Studies at university, I had always discussed with students the immense control of our society, commanding us how we should move, walk or express, resulting in our compartmentalized restricted movements, bodily function and flow of thoughts. Through experiencing these exercises, I learnt how much unknowingly we have internalized the inner recesses of emotions and movement. The stiff bodies, half way through left broken communications and the fear of being judged all the time, this in itself is not the problem, rather the outcome of multiple issues. Somewhere they need to liberate themselves from the constructed social roles and behaviours but the philosophical answers and theories would be of not much help. It was that mere circle experience that had transformed them in a very short time. After a while of free movements while focusing just on each other’s energies, leaving behind the sarcastic smile and the judgmental glares, there was a group willing to talk; respecting each other’s space and opening up on various topics.Liberating your own body from prescribed robotic movements, the mechanical attitude that is taught to us since early years, our bodies are not nurtured to speak of our moods but rather they follow the societal rulesWith almost a decade of experience with educating youth, I wanted to explore how a simple theatrical exercise can do that, that too with youth who seem to be too self-indulgent? Difficult to open up and too apprehensive to be convinced. Many problems and issues seemed to be answered by just simply validating each other, listening to life experiences and different perspectives. Liberating your own body from prescribed robotic movements, the mechanical attitude that is taught to us since early years, our bodies are not nurtured to speak of our moods but rather they follow the societal rules. Most of the students voiced their frustrations about how they are made to study what they never want to, careers to pursue without any will of their own, decisions without their own say. The suffocation does not end here, the professions and academic paths are decided mostly at a very young age. Barring minds to think of a life beyond medical studies and or clearing CSS exams.All the students had problems to share, they were bursting inside full of many failures, problems, judgments, emotional traumas and barriers. Many of these problems are birthed due to lack of validation of their perspectives and invasion of personal spaces. Someone with a different voice, mind or thought faces hostility in his/her own home ground. Condemning, discouraging and instilling lack of mutual respect starts as a way of communication and later it becomes a thinking pattern, making them feel further isolated. It does not stop here, their entire creativity is curbed to gain marks. When they all shared their inner noise with each other it led to satisfaction, validation and mutual respect. The theatrical circle taught them about the circle of life, the students in the circle found the mere cue of dialogue, making up for each other’s weakness and focusing on the energy flowing not from within them but from other fellows.As privacy of space, the energy of each other’s perspectives lacks in our society. It was a self-discovery and journey of unlearning the learnt stereotypes. As a teacher and parent I found answers to many issues and students imposed to sit in structured set ups, studying just under the fear of failure, develop in built inhibitions. \ Unfortunately, our entire life is spent to get accepted and to fulfil the criteria of being socially accepted. Unfortunately, it gives birth to a culture of envy, cut throat competition and victory grabbers, the voices of support and harmony are reduced to minimal.In Finland, early education neither comprises of math nor reading skills, rather it focuses on creative play and to inculcate the joy of learning, language enrichment and communication. This play is a serious task for teachers as it’s a milestone to build powerful learners and individuals. Unfortunately due to our debatable conventional methods we are raising individuals lacking sympathy, empathy and optimism. Parents and teachers both need to work towards raising ideas related to the outside of classroom walls.Theatre is one form of art that draws all of us in the circle of life, teaches us to play those roles which exist within us. Instead of curbing children only to the classroom desks, a rat race of results and grades, loosen up those leashes and let them join the circle of life in various forms of art. These art education ventures teach children and youth to work through consensus and differences to achieve a certain goal. As in the words of Oscar Wilde “I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.It reminded me of the Efe children of the Ituri Forest in Zaire (Republic of Congo, central Africa) following Osani Circle of Game, where children sit in a circle together and enjoy their treat together. They call this Ubunto, it’s about the circle of togetherness and connectivity celebrating different perspectives that each of them bring to the circle.The very word ubanto, stands for “I am because we are”. If we start following this, the world would become a much better place to live.The writer is a children’s right activist and a former educationistPublished in Daily Times, December 6th 2018.