Drama Therapy: Fake It 'Til You Make It
I've talked a bit about two forms of creative arts therapy previously, two of which I have explored and used personally. Arts therapy and musical therapy. After exploring the idea of identity via springing a random character on the world in unconventional settings, I stumbled across drama therapy.
Out of all the possible methods of creativity, acting and playing out a scene with others has been both very appealing to me as well as incredibly intimidating. Getting into a subject or idea via acting is a very popular learning tool and one many people really, really hate. Have you ever been in some sort of class in school or in a job where they ask you to role-play out a scenario you are learning about? Doesn't that idea fill you with dread? It does to me! All of a sudden, I'm going to have to act in a scenario that isn't real, in an environment I'm not comfortable in, and right in front of people that don't want to be there just as much as I do. Plus, what a boring fucking scene.
"Okay, so here is the plot everybody! You are taking a call as a customer service representative and one of your other trainees is a... wait for it... a customer!"
Who is excited by this prospect? What story are you creating? The story of disappointment when you realize your fellow colleagues could have never matched the sheer wrath and fury of the suburban middle-aged white girl who's cable isn't working and she needs to watch Tots in Tiaras, or whatever the fuck, right now and you are ruining her life! You ruined Christmas, you, you right there in your customer service role, you did it, you ruined Christmas!
You know, that's the scene they should play out in those training classes. I'd love to get into the mindset of Douche McThe Price Tag Said $9.99 For This $20 Item, And By Law You Need To Give It To Me For That Price Even Though It Was Obviously In The Wrong Location.
Anyway, it is actually a very effective learning tool and should be encouraged more often. Also yes, I worked in retail for a long time and that has probably left a rather dark impression on my soul that I need to delve into another time. There is something special getting into a character or a behavior that may or may not be your own, or even acting out an action that represents an issue you are dealing with. Thankfully for me, Social Anxiety is easy, I just go stand in a corner and slowly mimic the idea of becoming one with the wall.
Drama Therapy is a whole lot more than just improv work with trauma and behavioral issues as a topic, the exercises often done are quite interesting and I can see them being a great way to really let out much of the inner turmoil that haunts someone. One such exercise is called the "empty chair" and requires one to imagine that a person that has hurt them or had an influence on them is sitting in that chair and they now have the ability to say everything they've wanted to say to them. I know that virtually everyone in the world has had moments in their life where they have rehearsed a conversation or an argument in their head, felt prepared to handle it, and then suddenly realized once it got going that the person talking back was a human being and turned all that planning upside down by not being that person they've built up in their head. Well, not anymore, now you get to say your peace and that chair gets to take it!
It is actually quite effective, I mean that honestly, because unlike the in head scenario, at least you have an audience that gets to listen and applaud you in your efforts to tell your boss that he is a sexist dick bag, which he totally is.
Group therapy scares the crap out of me, group anything scares the crap out of me, and I know it does the same to a lot of other people. It is proven effective for a very good reason though, encouragement, participation, and shared experiences creates bonds and with bonds we create a foundation. With a foundation, we can build a house, and a house takes wood, steel, insulation, permits, and... I lost the plot.
The more I study and research this form of creative arts therapy, the more it intimidates me, but intrigues me. It requires full participation and the ability to just let go of any pretenses that you are being judged. Though as I've explored before, if I go into a scenario playing out a character and I commit to it, it is incredibly freeing. So, I can see how group interaction such as playing out an argument in a scene, or taking on the role of an aggressor in a conflict from another person's life, or making a long "a" sound while another person plays with your face to change the pitch to try and push out the tension can help give real insight into the issues at hand. Wait, what was that last one? Acting is weird...
There is also a bit of bravery in letting go of your inhibitions with a group that is all in with you in exploring these deep concepts. It is like bonding through shared trauma and that form of bonding is why horror movies are considered such a good idea in a date... considering that, don't sleep with your therapy group. That might require more therapy. Even though as we all learned in High School, the drama club always got a lot of action with one another. Man... I wish I had gotten into acting.