‘Give children the space to be what they want to be’

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ZULFIABangalore, June 22;Some 18 years ago, Zulfia Sheik’s life revolved around her medical practice, her family and raising her three children. She had no intention of becoming a teacher. That, until Bangalore School of Speech and Drama (BSSD) happened. “I arrived at it, but it was not my plan,” says Dr. Sheik, the founder of the BSSD.

Today, the BSSD, housed in the heart of HSR Layout, has over 200 students, including working professionals who come to train in the art and skill of drama and communication. It is affiliated to the Trinity Guildhall College, London.

Harsh world

Children, she says, need to be given freedom and spaces where they are respected and are not curbed by the social peer pressure. “Our children live in a very harsh world: they need to dress in a certain way to be accepted, they need to have a certain lifestyle, if the child is not on Facebook then she is weird, so there is this crazy kind of pressure on children to do things they might not really want to do. This is why it is important to provide them with a space where they can be who they want to be, no matter how they look, no matter where they come from, who they are, and that’s what the BSSD aims to do”.

In the past three years, Dr. Sheik has taken students from the BSSD to Broadway in New York, West End in London, Paris and various other art museums and theatre workshops. “Travelling is one of the best educations you can give to a child,” she says as we stroll through a Japanese garden in her favourite neighbourhood park. The need for a global understanding of art and theatre is important to get a broader perspective and to cultivate creativity, she adds.

“For me it was surreal to stand by the desk of Charles Dickens and think perhaps it was at this desk that he thought of writing David Copperfield, or this is where he conceptualised Oliver; was he in his study or in his room? Were the furniture like this? It was so fascinating. And to be able to give your child a similar experience will only open up their own imagination.”

From a practicing doctor to leaving it all behind and following a passion, Dr. Sheik says becoming a teacher was the best decision she ever made.

“I think it’s the journey of life, to travel a little bit, to meander a little bit before finding the destination.”

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