Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Evolving Consciousness Through Drama

Originally posted on April 14, 2011

One set of tools for evolving consciousness involves the integration of elements of drama—not the kind where people memorize lines written by someone else and repeatedly rehearse those lines and scenes—that’s what has come to dominate theatre arts, alas—but rather improvisational and interactive types of drama. I think that the unfolding field of applied theatre may be one tiny fragment of a wider movement towards the evolution of consciousness.

What I mean is that in my vision a far wider sector, perhaps 80% or more, of high school and college age young people would be exposed to the idea of infusing their life with greater vitality and flexibility by integrating a variety of elements of drama. No memorization of parts required. No rehearsals. Just instead the opportunity to exercise a variety of techniques in all kinds of personal and community situations:
— taking it over, treating situations playfully, as explorations, drawing on feedback: How did that work. Shifting from a final, polished performance to interactivity, using cybernetic principles to shape explorations, negotiations, etc.
— responding to disagreements with inquiry rather than "answers." Do you mean … ? Let’s see if I understand you correctly? Taking the other’s role as an exercise not only in empathy, but of letting the other feel heard, feel understood. Responses can come later. This is a mixture of sociodramatic role reversal and doubling skills.
— commenting on one’s own reactions as coming often from two or more parts, part of me wants to agree with you because… but another part doesn’t in that… and a third part wants to explore with you how to resolve that conflict?
— okay, let’s do a future projection on that, or let’s play out that scenario and see where it takes us
— commenting on nonverbal communication, how could I modify the tone of what I said so it is more effective, what voice tone, phrasing, facial expression, pacing… becoming more aware of the power of these elements in discourse
— letting go of believing that there are right answers, and of needing to believe this; letting go of  the belief that more than a small percentage of issues even have right answers and turning instead to the challenge of building skills for negotiating, working out a consensus, or finding creative alternatives
– nor is this list exhaustive; I’m open to further suggestions.

Perhaps you can see why I’m passionate. In traditional theatre, most people just passively watch; the challenge is to get more people involved in exploring and expressing themselves more dramatically, as this is more involving. We need to struggle against so much other media competition for distraction and illumination.

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