Father was in service with the Indian Navy — Anshu Daga was instilled with the values of hard work, discipline, vigour and confidence since her childhood. She got introduced to theatre while in college at Delhi University——here she got introduced to theatre stalwarts like Anamika Haksar, Arvind Gaur, Joy Michael —— Anshu was also elected the Dramatics President. She went on to pursue Post-Graduation in Advertising and Communications – keeping a practical approach in life, Anshu started working for a Public Relations Firm, then moved to Mumbai where she later joined Yes Bank in its Marketing Communication division. Anshu was awarded with the title ‘YES CHAMPION’ -it is the CEO’s league of excellence award for “Outstanding Contribution towards Institutional Excellence”. Not looking back then for next fifteen years she excelled in her work and garnered rich experiences from various exposures to different business sectors and various corporates.
“I thought I should do something creatively satisfying. I wanted a blank slate. I didn’t have a plan. But in my subconscious I think ‘theatre’ was always my first love. And I moved in that direction,” —— the then current management was not letting her quit and set a flexible environment to work, whatever way she wanted, but she decided to move ahead with her passion, and in the year 2013 Anshu left the advertising and marketing field. To sharpen her skills Anshu did a weekend course for a period of three months where she got introduced to a new form of theatre, ‘Forum Theatre’ -Theatre of the Oppressed. Forum Theatre strives to break the fourth wall ‘the audience’, here on performing a play the audience is invited to get involved through interactive suggestions and changes, which are implemented into the play impromptu. Along with this, Anshu did a ‘Creative Movement Therapy’ course, this helps a person build mind-body connection and self awareness. Succeeding this she attended a program ‘Mindfulness for Teachers’ at Dehradun, organised by a group of Vietnamese monks——a five days session that involved meditation and understanding the various human senses. Anshu then did a two year course in Forum Theatre under Barbara Santos in Berlin.
“My entrepreneurial spirit made me a better human being,”Anshu Daga
Compiling all these versatile learnings from various courses and blending it with the experience of corporate world——Anshu launched her venture, ‘The Inner Startup’ -a venture to help the corporate management understand their employees/associates behaviour and surroundings —— in ‘The Inner Startup’ through corporate training programs she implemented concepts from Theatre, Improv and Mindfulness——curated unique modules of interactive learning programs aiming to improve human well-being and increase work productivity, also these programs build empathy, self awareness, imagination and consciousness of the participants.
Anshu has cohesively worked with various corporates like KPMG, Abbott, Orange Business Services, Tata Consultancy Services, RBS, Yes Bank, Manipal Hospitals, Nokia and many more. In the year 2018, she was invited to perform a play on Women’s Day for a Community Club——with first time stage performers Anshu wrote – created and, directed her first play, ‘#Andme?’ ——all the performers were females- either who worked in corporate firms earlier or were freelancers. The process of creating the play ‘#Andme?’ had holding a workshop for 15 to 20 hours where through games, discussions and investigation via non verbal images, a script around a social issue is built up. Story formation of ‘#Andme?’ also encompassed small instances or events from the participants’ lives. The play ‘#Andme?’ where the audience got involved to get up on stage and do changes relevant to the issue being portrayed, is the format of ‘Forum Theatre’ —— and this is how, Anshu’s ‘Roots and Wings Theatre Group’ came into existence. While this is being written, her ‘Roots and Wings Theatre’ has created 4 plays, of which 2 plays were performed at the ‘Kuringa Forum Theatre Festival 2019’ in Berlin.
During India’s 2020 year lockdown taking ‘Roots and Wings Theatre’ online Anshu began virtual workshop and created an interactive play ‘Normal Hazir Ho’. The group has now added Playback Theatre to their performances. Anshu is also a coach and performer at Nautankibaaz Improv Collective and has performed Improv Theatre shows at the Canvas Laugh Club, and Kingdom of Dreams. All these forms of theatre helps in improving communication; encourages high listening skills; teaches acceptance, and helps in ‘how to avoid judgements and stereotypes’.
“I firmly believe in co- creation,”Anshu Daga
“I believe best learning comes when it comes from within —— I have always been a learner —— my motto ‘all my life has been to learn always’ —— and, my lust for creating has been instrumental in constant reinventing,” says Anshu. She has been constantly supported and encouraged by her parents, her husband and child – she thinks her strength is her high empathy level where she is always willing to listen and take in new ideas.
Today Anshu has her long bucket-list, of which two wishes are at the top: first, as a responsible artist she wants to contribute to society through theatre -by creating plays for disadvantaged communities; and second, as a council member at WICCI – Haryana, she wants to upscale soft skills for professional women.