BENGALURU: With student life riddled with stress, what better way to unwind than comedy? That’s exactly how the students of Indian Institute of Technology-Gandhinagar (IIT-GN) de-stress. This, all thanks to Bengaluru improviser Saveen Hegde, who recently collaborated with the institute for a workshop on the theoretical and practical aspects of improvisation. Improv is a form of theatre, most often comedy, where performers put up an unscripted show. This has now been included in the course’s foundation programme and will be a part of the course for every batch.
Hegde, the founder of Indian Improv Tribe (IIT), along with two others – Vikas Sangam and Amit Chitte – helped 200 students look at their lives through improv. “With entrance exam to the engineering course being so intense, most students enter college feeling stressed. When a professor from the institute who himself is trained in improv contacted us, we decided to go ahead with a session that would help them unwind,” he says.
Students learnt life lessons through the audience-centric style with an unscripted performance. “Absence of script means listening, understanding and responding, which are key elements. Here, saying ‘yes’, adding value and being spontaneous is important,” he says.
The second is having courage, which, on stage, translates to being confident, especially having to make active and immediate decisions. “When you are on stage, you have to be in the present and make choices,” he says.
Students shared their real-life experiences, which concurred with the lessons. For instance, a student shared how he had chosen this institute for its repute despite having got a branch of choice in another college, choosing to attend IIT-JEE over a football tournament, with the former being the parents’ preferred choice.
The third life lesson imparted through improv was celebrating imperfection. “Improv is not something that can be crafted and re-crafted. If someone stammers, you have to use that to take the show forward. In a sense, it also teaches you how to laugh at yourself,” Hegde says.
They are now in talks with National Public School for a workshop, and with Mount Carmel College for a show.