Workshops & Lectures
The Workshops (Thu and Fri)
Into the Blue: Challenges and possibilities of dramatherapy in times of climate change
This workshop will present current research on awe and gratitude and demonstrate how, when harnessed, they have the capacity to heal our nervous systems, and promote health and wellness throughout our lives. They are positive emotions and emotions that provoke action. When harnessed through drama therapy, they help us mobilize into action and engagement. Through this we can move out of states of freeze and disengagement and work to address climate change and to develop sustainability inside and out. As we heal our nervous systems and our bodies, in turn, we can heal the environment.
This innovative, 2-day presentation combines lecture, video, performance, and experiential group learning. Theory and research on trauma and the nervous system are presented in order to give context to the application of the research on awe and gratitude. Our planet is suffering in many different ways and we will examine how trauma keeps in in cycles of consumption, inaction and despair and how awe and gratitude can mobilize us out of these states.
Day 1 will give an overview of the nervous system and the impact of trauma, illustrated through theatrical performance and imagery as well as the direct presentation of clinical research. The use of storytelling and physical movement will help each participant come to a personal understanding of the material while having an opportunity to process reactions and to discuss the research as a group.
Day 2 will present the research on gratitude, continuing to share the material through lecture and performance. As we navigate a changing world which fills us with grief and despair we will explore how touching deeply into gratitude and awe are the counterpoints and solutions. Together, we will assemble a toolkit of resources and activities that are available for participants to apply directly to personal and clinical practice..
Systemic Nature Therapy: Healing embodiment of the connection between human and nature
Astrid Habiba Kreszmeier
Through constellation work, mythodrama and nature experience, I invite you to an exploratory journey into the history of humanity and its connection to the earth, its landscapes and elements. We begin with the questions we face here and now, traveling through myths of written culture to early mythic forms of oral culture to the pre-linguistic yet rich forms of mimesis: facial expressions, gestures, body language and spoken language. With a little luck, we will be able to glimpse and remember images from the sacred spaces of human history, which provide such important impulses for our coexistence to this day: for a joyful, meaningful coexistence with ourselves, with other people in the world we have made, and above all: with the world of the given constantly becoming nature.
In other words: These two days introduce the nature-dialogue approach and show practical possibilities to expand our self-image as well as community-image beyond the human world and to encounter life and an ensouled world.
Matrix of Mourning – Ritual Structures as a Therapeutic Medium in Transition Processes
This workshop is led by the assumption that in the lives and daily routines of most people here and now, numerous transitions do not find sufficient design and ritual framing, and that this lack of time, space and ritual containers can lead to emotional and psychological distress.
Not only in death and loss, but also in transformations and transitions from one life situation to another, that are necessary for any development, mourning processes play a central role in which the old can be farewelled and the new can be welcomed. Individual feelings can thus be embedded in a larger context, and the aesthetic distancing can enable an access and at the same time a shaping and thus handling.
In this workshop, ritual structures will be shared, as well as a selection of bodily forms of expression – gestures, postures and simple movements – that occur in different cultures in the context of transitions, more particularly death and mourning rituals. The aim is to open up an experimental and participatory space of expression in which aspects of the participants’ lives and personalities that currently require special attention can find expression in a ritual vessel. A central common research question will be how these ritual death and mourning gestures can be adapted to mark, shape and accompany therapeutic transitions on different levels.
Trance Phenomena in Ritual & Healing: “Dry brains don’t fall into trance”
This workshop is based on the results of decades of research in which the nature and structure of the connection between ritual and healing was explored and made usable for our “modern” drama therapy: The approach presented here conceives the development of ritual as a human capacity, physiologically rooted in body knowledge and used for millennia, to provide collective structures for transitions that serve 2 functions simultaneously:
They provide a structure for leaving something behind, for completing a “form,” and for enduring the void in which the old is no longer and the new is not yet -, they make it possible to face the unknown/frightening and thereby not to paralize but to remain able to act and live. They thus create an essential prerequisite for (further) development!
At the same time they have the task to provide for the maintenance of the personal and collective identity in crises, breaks and catastrophes, by creating connection both on the horizontal level to the collective and on the vertical/transpersonal level to a larger whole.
Essential to the effect of rituals are obviously trance phenomena, the evolutionary capacity in the human body/brain to access human potentials and inner self-healing processes in an expanded state of consciousness and perception, which for good reason are not accessible to ‘normal’ consciousness. ‘Normal’ consciousness is limited by family and societal conditioning and taboos, but existential crises are characterized precisely by the failure of previously learned coping mechanisms.
In this workshop we work with very simple trance-inducing forms of work, drawing on abilities that we all had at our disposal as children, no witchcraft or mystifications are needed to dive into the knowledge of life and development processes stored in our cells and to find a lively relatedness to existential themes in the area of tension between birth and death beyond the everyday neurotic events in us and around us.
Ritual Actions & the Body Energy Centres
‘Ritual Actions’ has been a research project for over 30 years asking one fundamental question: is it possible to create Rituals which can heal the body, mind, spirit and soul. And by soul I mean what James Hillman articulates: soul is not a substance as in traditional theology of many religions, but a function of imagination.
Today we live in a world dominated by frenetic Urban Rhythms and as a result we have lost connections with our own body’s organic rhythms, our own sources of energy.
This workshop will introduce the group into a process of Play to awaken the body centres: the whole Body in Movement, the Head Centre: imagination visualization fantasy, the Vocal, emotional and Sex Centre.
The intermingling of energies from the centres forms a River of Energy with many layers. It is essential to recognize that all feelings are just different forms of energy: anger rage joy sorrow love hate etc.
In our play process we’ll explore, if the individual body centres can act as transformers of the energies which emanate from nature (trees, rivers, wind, rocks, fire) and further, if our human bodies can connect in some way to the Universal Energy that keeps the whole universe spinning and vibrating and transform it into a healing process for oneself with and for others.
Playing with archetypes: Exploring Angel, Muse and Duende as catalysts of psychological processes in dramatherapy
The creative process holds dimensions of wisdom and multiplicity of meanings that often lead us to unique insights. Federico Garcia Lorca speaks about three forms of artistic inspiration: Angel, Muse, and Duende. Coming from above, the Angel grants, protects, and illuminates; the Muse inspires, structures and engages the intellect, creating stylishly impressive forms. The Duende challenges and dares; it comes from below, raising up from the earth, irrupting in the artist’s body through the sole of the feet, and triggering burning emotions. Although these invisible forces are external, they pass through the artist, affecting everyone present.
This workshop seeks to reinforce the connection of the participants with their Inner Artist by exploring these archetypes in the context of dramatherapeutic practice, looking at them as potential accelerators and catalysts of psychological process. Using dramatic resonances, embodied imagery, movement, text, and ritual structures, we will create a dialogue with our Inner Artist and broaden its ways of expression in ourselves and our knowledge of its therapeutic potential in our practice.
(Work-)Be-Shop: Touching the Untouchable
Johannes B. Schmidt
In this be-shop, the facilitator demonstrates and explains his practice of intimate therapeutic encounter – also in terms of craftsmanship. Central is the transformation into an attitude: ‘The encounter with you leads me to me’. How do we find the courage to let the untouchable touch us? How do we remain touchable and preserve our sensitivity and aliveness?
Live work / demonstrations with participants in front of the group, explanations of the “craft” and, depending on the concerns of the group, small explorations of the participants’ self-experience, will constitute this Be-Shop.
Caution: Deep encounter is not easy, touching encounter can be activating in different directions and uncover dissociated traumas as well as buried sources of life. As a Buddhist once said: No Satsang without Shitsang.
Nava Rasa Sadhana
Navarasa sadhana (‘Sadhana’ means ‘Ritual’) is the systematic practice of the Nine Rasa-s – the nine sentiments that have been developed and practiced since more than two thousand years in India: the erotic, the comic, the pathetic, the furious, the heroic, the terrible, the odious, the marvelous and the state of tranquility. The workshop guides the participants through the experience of the Nine Rasa-s through a combination of „codified“ (or guided) embodiment and an opening of inner processes.
Having been conceived in the vedic – context, the Nava Rasa-s traditionally grew out of the temple-context, to elaborate themes of Hindu Gods and Mythology. Sri Venu G.’ s Nava rasa Ritual/Sadhana preserves the knowledge on the relationship of physicality and transpersonality and at the same time opens the practice to non-traditional performers. He codified the system of Sadhana in a way so that actors from all kind of performance genres, also from western traditions, will be able to incorporate the practice of the Nine Rasa-s into their own trainings.
The workshop offers an insight into this contemporary approach to an Indian Performance Tradition and – through Sri Venu G’s vast experience in the field of transcultural performance exchange – offers the chance of contextualising it in a global performance context.
Descriptions of the Lectures
We play (no) theatre here – The transcendental in psychotherapy
Johannes B. Schmidt
Every human being who has lost the connection to the spiritual is overstrained and concerned with himself. Contact with the world does not occur, and the flight into thinking begins, where immediacy of life seems threatening.
In order for our soul and psyche to dare to experience reality, we need the experiential connection to transcendence. To be held from somewhere else, to be able to be fully here and to let life live.
Does “therapy” heal? Or is it healing to accompany a person to a place where one can be touched by something unnameable that is experienced as transcendent? Then healing can occur for therapist and client alike, because healing is not divisible. Deep silence and awe set in.
Both remain touched and inspirited by “something”.
Transformation and Relevance of ‘Ancient Knowledge – Evening Talk with Venu G.,
in conversation with William Sax and Annette Hornbacher
What can European theatre (and dramatherapy) learn from Classical Indian Dance Theatre and its embodiment of emotions? Access to an otherwise invisible reality? Are the effects independent of the cultural context? Why does Venu G. refer to his training of the 9 emotions (Nava Rasa) as „Sadhana“, that means a ritual? What has emerged as the core that keeps these Indian dance theatre forms still so relevant today? What in-sights do the researches of William Sax and Annette Hornbacher give to these questions?
What are spiritual crises, and how can we accompany people in such a crisis? – Facets of a multi-layered phenomenon
The lecture will first go into the history of the topic of spiritual crises and reflect on its current social and health-scientific relevance. Further, we will explore the question of what characterizes a spiritual crisis by taking a closer look at basic definitions, characteristics and manifestations of spiritual crises. Finally, we want to open the space and discussion to the question of which forms of accompaniment are supportive for people in such transformative processes and whether theater therapy approaches could also prove helpful in this regard.
William Sax – Theatrical Rituals as Collective Therapy
The borders between ritual, therapy, and drama are very fluid: ritual has therapeutic effects, therapy makes use of dramatic forms, and drama takes ritual forms. In this paper I discuss the dramatic/theatrical aspects of ghost exorcisms as collective rituals among the Dalits (the former ‚untouchables‘) of Uttarakhand in the Western Himalaya and advance my theory, why ritual is often therapeutic.
Annette Hornbacher – Possession as a Medium of Diagnose and Therapy: Dance and Transgression in Bali
Dancers and performers in Bali (and Java) are not media for conveying specific human emotions, but media for manifesting an – otherwise invisible – reality of ancestors and spirits.
For this reason, dance and trance possession often merge here, and these performative dissociations are not seen as pathological behaviors – or as a release of personal stress- but as ‘windows’ through which the community can enter into exchange with the divine. A therapeutic effect is not aimed at individuals, but at the whole group.
Susana Pendzik – The Invisible in Dramatherapy
This speech explores the notion of the ‘invisible’ in drama therapy, in dialogue with four interrelated bodies of knowledge: shamanism, theatre/arts, psychotherapy, and spirituality, focusing on a genuine tool of drama therapy: The Invisible …
Ingrid Lutz – „Ritual & Healing – or – What is the point of all this ‘theater’, what is the deeper meaning of theater-therapy?
In preparation for the following discussion, Ingrid briefly summarises the results of her more than 20 years of (re)search on the effects of ritual and theatre and will present theses on the meaning and task of theater therapy work in view of the challenges of our time, present and future.