Noelle’s presentation was very lively and was well-prepared for an audience new to Sociodrama. Matching the action method approach, we started with action ie., experiencing Sociodrama rather than learning the theory about it in a room generously arranged for work which requires movement and space. The expectations of the audience varied from “hopefully, there is no acting involved” to “I want something dramatic”. We discovered through sociometric (measuring the connections of group members) that we had two Johns, two Lysannes and three Marys in the room. Seeing them standing as small clusters made this an impressive piece of information. Placing ourselves with people first, with those we did know and then those we did not know, showed how strongly we are woven into the HACP context.
We also positioned ourselves on invisible continuums to discover experience as group facilitators and knowledge of Morenian methods (father of Sociodrama J. L. Moreno, 1889 – 1975). The clusters of people who stood together or stood apart was telling. Through linguistic means, Noelle explained that roles in themselves are without judgement. Adjectives add the qualification to a role which then can develop into stereotypes and ideological roles. Taking the adjective as, for instance, incessant or happy can turn the role of a carer (whichcan be social or psychological role) or housewife into roles with particular values. So the bored housewife could turn into a happy, flexible housewife and the obliging carer into a imaginative, spontaneous carer. That means the quality of roles can be changed and situations that are experienced as stagnant or chaotic can be reworked from within the same roles but with changed qualities. All conflicts and unpleasant, frightening, threatening, and usually non-verbalised behaviour come to light for all group members and everyone can explore all the roles active in a community.
The attendees discovered that there were not only social roles but somatic and psychological and psycho-somatic roles that human beings always inhabit at different times and in different contexts. Those roles might carry ideologies and shape thinking and actions in community and group settings. Sociodrama offers a method that explores forces that determine the success or failure of groups/communities allowing people to step into various roles and externalising thoughts in a playful way with a sincere objective. To see a theme presented as an enactment caused a chaotic feeling while all forces were active at once. The energy in the room had gone up for the role-takers. Those who stayed in role as observers experienced a wide palette of emotions.
Sociodrama uses the language of the acting world: Warming-up to action work, stepping into a role, freezing (stopping) in a role, and de-roling objects that stood as a symbol for a characteristic or thought. One group warmed-up to a theme that related to the unfilled and threatened potential of the land. The theme was developed through movements and verbal expressions, and then held by a member of the evening. The audience learned that rather than exploring the individual psyche of people, which Moreno’s Psychodrama Psychotherapy focuses on, the sociodrama practitioner elicits ideologically held views and belief systems that might cause dysfunctionalities. This seems a necessary aspect work in counselling/psychotherapy of any therapeutic modality too, I believe.
Noelle held the theory at a minimum and staying with Moreno’s thinking. And as so often when presentations are so engaging, there was hardly any time to ask questions. It would have been interesting to explore how the information we were given would be important to inform the work as a psychotherapist/counsellor. Also, Moreno’s refreshing approach to work with spontaneity and creativity requires, in my opinion, the additional question about the destructive nature of those forces, as Bob Harris (at the HACP conference 2017) so poignantly discussed.
Noelle enjoyed her roles as passionate, dynamic and expert facilitator. It was clearly not an easy task to present Sociodrama within the time constraints. However, I am glad HACP offered a Sociodrama for an evening and I hope HACP can organise a day training where we can explore what the moving or static forces are we are dealing with in the counselling/psychotherapeutic world.