How Improv Helps WeWork Members in Bengaluru Connect Offline

When community manager Aman Saini saw that members weren’t connecting IRL, he came up with a solution—theater workshops

by Amber Scorah

SHARE

Welcome to Community Corner, a series highlighting the work, passions, and impact of our community teams around the world.

The first time Aman Saini’s mother came to see her son act in a play, she walked out of the theater after 30 minutes.

“I don’t blame her,” says Saini, 24, laughing. “The play was four hours long—the story of David and Goliath.”

Saini has been acting since the fifth grade; the David and Goliath play was just a few years ago. His mother had always wanted him to study commerce or science, but he preferred the theater, eventually choosing it as his major in college. What she could not have foreseen was that Saini’s interest in acting would prove useful in his career at WeWork.

“A couple of months into my first role at WeWork, at the Embassy GolfLinks building in Bangalore, I noticed that everyone around me was so involved in the virtual world they forgot to experience the real world at times,” says Saini, now the community lead at WeWork Salarpuria Symbiosis in Bengaluru, India.

Saini realized that the skills he had learned in improv classes might help members do things that might come more naturally without the barrier of technology. Hoping to help others get back to “feeling things,” he invited WeWork members across the city to different theater-based workshops.

At one workshop, Saini introduced the “Fear in a Hat” exercise: He asked attendees to write down their worst fear on a piece of paper, then put it into a hat. One by one, each person then took a paper out of the hat and read the fear aloud. Saini encouraged the other members to offer ideas for how to overcome that fear.

At first, the sharing among the group was done anonymously, using paper. But then, to Saini’s surprise, people began to share their fears more openly. “People started opening up a lot,” he says. “I almost felt like a shrink!”

Seeing how the workshop helped members to pause and look within, Saini now regularly hosts these type of events for WeWork members. “This kind of interaction really bonds people,” he says. “Theater helps you experience others’ truths and your own.”

Though Saini’s mother passed away a few years ago, he is certain she would be proud to see that her son’s interest in theater does so much good in the workplace, too.

We spoke with Saini about his acting, future plans, and more.

Favorite role in a play: “David, from The Anointing,” says Saini. The play, based on the story of David and Goliath, was personal for Saini. “At the time I was rehearsing that play, the Goliath in my life was my mother’s cancer. I spent the last 15 days of her life with her in the hospital.”

Superpower: Saini says that he has incredible powers of observation. “I read characters so much in scripts that when I walk into a room I try to read the characters there, too,” he says. He thinks this ability makes him especially approachable. “If there are a couple of people standing around, I’ve noticed that I’m usually the one people come to.”

Member who’s influenced him most: During the Fear in a Hat exercise, Saini was affected by one member’s emotional catharsis. “He had almost lost his wife and father in a car accident, and had become terrified of being in a car,” he recalls. “It got really intense as we went on,” but to Saini, it was clear that just having the space to let go and talk about it helped the man comes to terms with his fear.

Core values: Saini says that life has taught him, again and again, to be patient. “Right after university I was ready to pack my bags and go to Bombay to act, but things didn’t work out that way,” he says. Instead, after his mother’s death, he had to take care of his younger brother. “I learned how to look after a teenager. That’s good therapy for teaching patience.”

Future plans: Saini still plans to move to Bombay and make it in Bollywood. “Once I help my brother finish his schooling, I want to be a cinema actor,” he says. But even after he achieves this, he plans to carry on at WeWork, noting, “You always need something in the real world to inform your acting.”

Join WeWork

We are always looking for awesome people to join our team.

Check out available roles at wework.com/careers.