Sasha Saksena

Tell us your Faust Story!
I was 10 years old, fresh from my debut in a school play, and craving more time on stage. Then, like a beacon of hope, I spotted a Faust flyer and begged my mom for a shot at their upcoming summer programme.

After relentlessly pestering her for days, she finally gave in. I was buzzing with excitement and nerves because I'd never set foot in a theatre class before. It was a total mystery! I'll never forget when our Leader had us form a circle and introduced us to the game Ninja — a game I have played as a student and as a Leader, endless times since! I immediately felt at home in the class, I remember couldn’t wait to come back for the next one.

At the end of the summer programme I was hooked! I had so much fun getting to know people and even more fun feeling safe enough to explore all sorts of characters and emotions!

There wasn't a single term when I wasn't enrolled in a Faust class or Faust production from then on. I spent about three years in Group N before joining Stage Group. Some of my favourite childhood memories are with those groups!

What is your earliest Faust memory?
It was my first summer programme, we were talking about giving purpose to all movement on stage. The workshop leader told us to imagine a character and walk around the room like they were chasing a butterfly. I remember being so in my head, I walked straight into another student. We became good friends after!

What is your favourite Faust memory?
When I was with Stage Group, I remember a few of us went to an improv show with Keon. The actors on stage were taking suggestions from the crowd and Nathan, Paris and I were so loud about our suggestions, they were all chosen! As the play unfolded, we couldn't help but get really into it. We were singing along and fully engaging with the show—it was fantastic. After the show, we happened to bump into the cast, and it felt really special because they remembered our names. It was great!

What was your biggest challenge in participating and leading in drama workshops and productions?
One of the biggest challenges I faced was trying to grasp the cultural context. When I joined Faust, I was already an older student and hadn't had any prior interaction with theatre. This meant I often found myself in the dark when people made references or talked about different types of theatre or culture-specific accents.

What made a huge difference was the patience of the Group Leaders. They were always willing to explain things or provide examples without making me feel like an outsider for not knowing. It was immensely helpful and made me feel more at ease.

What did you gain from your experience at Faust as a student and / or as a leader?
Oh the list is so expansive! I couldn’t possible cover everything in a succinct paragraph!

As a theatre student, Faust provided me with a safe haven to explore my creative ideas and receive valuable, constructive feedback. When I took on the role of Workshop Assistant, that safe space expanded even further. I had the chance to put everything I had learned into practice, whether it was designing costumes or creating props. I still proudly recall the time I crafted child-safe fire for the Jungle Book production!

Like any safe space, I learnt a lot through trial and error. The Faust community has always been incredibly supportive during those moments. When I stepped into the role of a workshop assistant, I was initially overwhelmed by the responsibility. However, I had fantastic mentors in Sarah, Clara, and Mimi—my workshop leaders. They guided me through the process, helping me understand and develop teaching and communication techniques that continue to benefit me in my work today.

One memory that really sticks with me is a valuable lesson I learned about respect. Back when I was a Production Assistant, my responsibilities included creating props and putting together various elements for our Jungle Book production. I encountered a bit of a challenge when some of our young students started treating these props like toys, inadvertently causing a few mishaps.

Feeling a bit puzzled, I turned to Keon for some advice, and he shared a pearl of wisdom with me: 'If you show things respect, they'll see that and return the favour.' I admit, I was a tad skeptical, but I decided to give it a shot. I marked designated spaces on the floor for the props, handled them with care, and passed them over gently during rehearsals. It was almost like magic—the younger students began treating the props with the same respect I had shown them.

This lesson about respect has stayed with me ever since and has proven true in countless situations. Whether it's how people have handled and appreciated my work at art exhibitions or how I've shown respect for others as their support worker and how connecting that can be, it's been a guiding principle I cherish.

How did studying Drama and Theatre impact your life?
Theatre has been more than just a creative outlet for me; it's been a platform for self-discovery. It allowed me to explore not only my creative process but also connect with deeper elements of my identity. Theatre's constant questioning and examination of motives pushed me to find a vocabulary for emotions and learn how to effectively communicate my experiences. This skill has been invaluable in my work, particularly in situations involving crisis, such as suicide risk assessments, and support work for individuals navigating complex situations. Theatre has equipped me with the ability to communicate complex and intense feelings succinctly, which is a vital skill in my line of work.

Beyond the skills and personal growth, Faust has also brought some truly wonderful people into my life. Some of my closest friends today, even 15 years later, I met at Faust. The impact of these connections is immeasurable. Thank you, Faust!

How would you describe Faust to someone new to drama and theatre?
It’s a super fun place where you’ll get to play with swords, wear fun hats, make amazing friends and, best of all, get to know yourself!