Community Action Settings

Drama is an unbeatable way to provide cohesion and promote understanding at the community level. There are many drama therapists who do this work full or part time.

Armand Volkas, RDT/BCT, brings together groups from cultures that have become enemies due to war and historical trauma. Using Playback Theatre, Sociodrama, and other drama therapy techniques to allow people to tell their stories, discover their human connection, build trust, open communication, and begin to heal the rifts. He has worked around the world, bringing together descendants of Jewish Holocaust survivors and the Third Reich, Japanese and Chinese over the traumas created by the rape of Nanjing, African-American and European Americans in relation to the traumas of slavery. He calls this powerful and effective work “Healing the Wounds of History.”

STAND Together is an acronym for “Spirit, Teamwork, and New Determination Together,” one of the oldest self-advocacy groups for adults with developmental disabilities in the state of Maryland. Through monthly meetings and activities, STAND Together members learn how to stand up for themselves and develop their leadership skills, speaking out about the rights of people with disabilities. I facilitated their creation of a dramatic training module for new employees of the Montgomery County ARC to ensure that residents in their group homes and programs would be treated with respect. Group home support staff, job coaches, and other service providers for people who have disabilities are often so focused on “doing their job” that they treat residents as children or as patients, rather than as adults living independently.

Through drama we explored the basic rights of individuals with developmental disabilities, identified situations in their personal lives in which their rights had been violated or in which they had been embarrassed by insensitive care-givers, and brainstormed more appropriate ways of treatment which showed respect. The scenarios we created demonstrated examples of inappropriate and appropriate treatment. These were incorporated into the monthly ARC training for new employees, allowing the people receiving services to define the manner in which they wanted their services delivered.

Deborah Zuver, RDT/BCT, works with a program called Acting for Advocacy in North Carolina. She trains adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities how to be self-advocates through drama therapy techniques and prepares them to present self-advocacy training to peers, so that they can also learn to advocate for themselves.

© Copyright Sally D. Bailey, Registered Drama Therapist. All Rights Reserve