This Ex-RJ Founded Art Of Speech, A School Of Performing Arts For Kids
Just before walking up on stage a kid might get real anxious. But to overcome that, Mumbai based RJ and dramatics teacher, Reena Shah, has created a school of sorts for children, called ‘Art of Speech’. It is a place where they can learn the fundamental art of acting and delivering speech from an early stage of their life.
About the founder
Shah, studying in 7th grade, gained the confidence to speak in front of an audience when she was chosen to host a sports event in her school. She later started anchoring shows, and finally decided to try her hand at radio jockeying. With a degree in Business Management, Reena cemented her passion by pursuing a workshop / course in emceeing, broadcasting, compèring, and dubbing from Xavier’s Institution of Communication.
She then went on to host multiple events, including Ocular Trauma Seminar, and HUMLOG Awards, while staying an RJ at Vividh Bharti. She also freelanced with FM Rainbow, and was appreciated by AIR (All India Radio) for ideating and hosting live interviews on radio.
Art of Speech comes into existence
It was in 2003 that her husband proposed the idea of an academy where she could teach her talent and expertise. This, along with Reena’s unconditional love for kids, led her to build a teaching school of speech and drama for children to help them mould their creative side, right from their growing stage. Initially starting with 7 – 8 students, Art Of Speech enrols 75 – 100 students, every year (pre Covid), in different batches. The teachers in the academy, along with Reena, are ex-students of the academy who wanted to remain an active part.
Reena’s definition of ‘Art of Speech’ would be — a mix of acting, personality development, and public speaking. The kids learn how to creatively express through their voice, facial expressions, and body language, along with stage attitude and etiquettes. The prime focus is to provide an in-depth knowledge of acting, expression, and speech for children that will help them in understanding the initial phase of acting.
The academy introduces the students with Navras – the notion of nine rasas in Sanskrit (the nine different expressions). These include expressing emotions through eyes, voice, body language, etc. in a detailed manner. These Navras are modified into different structures and is incorporated in storytelling, poems, dramatics, and extempore speech with an addition of tone and expression variations. Everything is then clubbed with debate, elocution, reality show anchoring, radio jockey, scripting stories, writing dialogues, etc.
This school of arts charges an affordable fee as Reena does not want the financial burden to be the reason parents don’t sign up their talented kids to the program. The fee per class, per annum is Rs. 20,000, and post lockdown has been reduced to Rs. 17,500.
All for a better future
Art of Speech collaborated with Adam Dow, a pioneer in India for Improv Acting — performing an unscripted act. They, thus, were the first ones to introduce this art form for kids in Maharashtra, claims Reena. This was seen as a huge success since Improv was mostly performed by adults.
The mom entrepreneur envisions this institute to be the one that helps in shaping a child’s creative future, for the better, and that positively impacts his or her life. She truly wishes that the students who graduate from Art of Speech fondly remember this academy, and they cherish each moment spent in there.
Reena reminisces and shares,
“One of my students shifted to the US, and there, at a certain time, she participated in a story-telling and poetry competition. She won that! And, I got a call from her thanking me for what she learned at Art of Speech. I was happily speechless at that moment because our efforts literally paid off.”
Located in Ghatkopar, Mumbai for the last 17 years, Reena, now, is planning to open another branch in Mumbai that would welcome people of all age groups.
Boss Mom’s journey
Post Reena’s marriage, she retired from being an RJ, but kept recording her voice. Her husband, this one day, found these recordings. Pleasantly surprised with how her voice sounded in a recording, he repeatedly kept confirming if it indeed was her. He somehow managed to convince his parents (her in-laws) to let Reena pursue her dream.
“If you can’t make yourself happy, then you can’t make anyone around you happy. For me, during times of distress, talking to my husband was a quick relief.
Initially, the mompreneur faced a plethora of management issues but she was determined to make it work. At home, her in-laws supported her by taking care of her daughter and the household.
Reena feels that when things get tough then prioritising is a must, and most definitely as a working woman with a family, who has multiple roles to fulfil.
“Mothers, today, are focused and amazing managers. Although, I would request them to prioritise their family over work, always. Believe in God and trust yourself, and then, the sky is your limit!”