Review by Eric Miller



Review of a Workshop on

"Using Fairytale and Myth in

Drama-and-Movement Therapy"


On the afternoon of Sunday 2 October 2016, Mike Clarke and Anshuma Kshetrapal conducted a 3-hour Workshop on "Using Fairytale and Myth in Drama-and-Movement Therapy" in Chennai.  24 people attended.


Mike and Anshuma have both studied at London's Sesame Institute -- one of the world's leading training centers for Drama-and-Movement Therapy.  The Sesame Institute works with a University in London that offers a Masters degree in this field, and both Mike and Anshuma have earned this degree.


To begin with, Mike and Anshuma told the group that this session would just be a brief introduction to Drama-and-Movement Therapy.  In no way should participants consider themselves trained as Drama-and-Movement Therapists as a result of this Workshop.  For one thing, before one could think of calling oneself a Counsellor/Therapist, one should at the minimum have earned a Master's Degree in Psychology or Social Work.


Nonetheless, in a brief 3 hours, the Workshop participants experienced a basic pattern of Drama-and-Movement Therapy:


1) We did a series of self-introduction and warm-up activities.  For examples:  Some of these activities involved walking -- faster and slower, and making one's body smaller and larger.  We walked alone, and also in pairs and groups.  Joining others, and leaving them, as I was walking produced interesting feelings within me.  We playfully and imaginatively walked through the seasons and weather conditions of an entire year in a few minutes!  In pairs, we took turns shaping each others' bodies as if they were pieces of clay.


2) We listened to Anshuma tell a story.


3) Individually and in groups, we played with and explored the story.  We entered the story, and the story entered us.  We mimed the story (with no or little speech), focusing on postures, gestures, other movements, and sounds of characters.  We drew images of aspects of the story.  Then we all stood in a large circle.  One-by-one, participants entered the circle and in some way enacted a gesture, sound, and/or emotion from the story.  The Stationary sculptures became Kinetic (Moving) sculptures: we repeated the gestures, louder and softer, larger and smaller. 


4) Finally, we all shared about what we had experienced and learned in the Workshop.




During this sharing time, there was a discussion about the possibility of inviting clients/participants/students/etc to act-out emotions.


Mike pointed out that doing so can be dangerous in certain situations, such as inviting groups of adolescent young men in juvenile delinquency homes to act-out "anger".


It was agreed by all that when working (as a therapist, teacher, coach, trainer, etc) with individuals or groups -- to ensure the safety and comfort of all concerned, one has to always

1) be very sensitive and aware,

2) closely monitor the moods of the participants, and

3) act accordingly.


Anshuma said that it is often best to let emotions arise, and remain contained, in stories.


However, various contexts were also mentioned in which inviting clients/participants/students/etc to act-out emotions are popular and long-standing practices.  For examples:




1) In Psychodrama, session directors sometimes suggest that an emotion be represented by a colored cloth, an empty chair, a person, etc.  Then participants can address and interact with the representation of this emotion.




2) In Creative Writing workshops, story-composition prompts such as the following are often used:


"Why Does He/She Feel That Way?"


If a character might be [happy, sad, impatient, confused, etc], she might feel this way because ______.  (Participants fill in the blank, based on their imaginations, inclinations, etc.)


Think of the last time you were [happy, sad, impatient, confused, etc].  Why did you feel that way?


Think of a character in a favorite movie, novel, etc, of yours who was [happy, sad, impatient, confused, etc].  Why did he/she feel that way?


Sometimes in story-composition processes one develops characters and stories in relation to and/or inspired by certain emotions.




3) A popular warm-up in storytelling sessions/workshops is for the participants to act-out a series of emotions, each with a facial expression, a gesture, a sound, and sometimes words.


Sometimes the 9 Rasas (emotions, or mental states) of Classical Indian Arts are used in this activity:

1) Love

2) Laughter.

3) Fury.

4) Compassion.

5) Disgust.

6) Horror.

7) Heroism.

8) Amazement.

9) Tranquility.




In summary, this Drama-and-Movement Workshop was a splendid occasion!  We really got a sense of how therapy could in part be conducted by the client (of any age) playing, acting, storytelling, and drawing -- not just doing plain talk-therapy.


The event was a wonderful addition and stimulant to Chennai's blossoming Arts Therapies scene, which includes a one-year Course, and an International Conference, both coming up in December.




Mike Clarke, London / Kent


Anshuma Kshetrapal, New Delhi / Bangalore




The Workshop venue was Studio 360, a dance studio in Gopalapuram.  Studio 360 was very comfortable, clean, and professional.  The space was filled with sunlight, and the air-conditioning was near-silent,  For info about the space's availability: 98846 64333.



Return to WSI E-newsletter on Monday 3 October