Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Add “Surplus Reality”

Originally posted on December 14, 2016

I found a book by Rosilyn Wilder, a teacher of creative drama,  titled "A Space Where Anything Can Happen" (New Plays Books, 1977). Yes, it fits with my hope to expand consciousness so that people—not just young people, but old people, too, like my age group!—can make up stuff.

In a world (and school system) oriented to responding with the “right-answer” there is a corresponding pushing to the margins (of awareness, of discourse) those  states that in fact do not need anyone to offer a “right” answer. No particular right answer is needed, just the enjoyment of coming up with something that others can relate to, even if it’s fairly nonsensical. The goal is just inventing stuff, and while some inventions further the imaginations of those playing more than others, the point is to be free to play with whatever is offered.

J.L. Moreno called this “spontaneity training. He’s best known for creating a type of psychotherapy called psychodrama, but Moreno intuited that his ideas far transcend the treatment model and working with those in the “sick” role. Indeed, the healthier you are, the more you can be effectively encouraged to play throughout your life.

Wilder’s book, which triggered this meditation, is aimed at teachers of middle school. Kids between 12 and 15 are still at an age when make-believe becomes “un-cool.” Still memories of mental freedom, what Moreno called "surplus reality" — what a great concept!—are still fresh.

My goal is to help people add surplus reality to their role repertoire. My wife and I do this a lot. We are more than just our ordinary social selves, for one. We shift into other roles as befits the occasion, sometimes vulnerable little kids, sometimes leader of the troupe, etc.

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