Exhumator Esoterics

Encyclopedia of Spiritual — Letter D - DRAMA

Exhumator Esoterics
Exhumator Esoterics

Drama can play a powerful role in facilitating spiritual development both in educational and community contexts. It has the potential to operate as an imaginative scaffold for spiritual development since the core constructs of drama involve both engagement and reflection, two essential features in cultivating spirituality. In improvisational process drama, children search for meaning and purpose, examine issues, and learn more about the real world from their improvised engagement in an imaginary one. The opportunity for "innerstanding" and inhabiting the lives of others enables young people to experience safe emotional engagement and take part in creative explorations of secular and faith tales. The creation of community, the opportunity to engage in open exploration and reflection through being as well as doing, the development of self-knowledge, and the chance to experience feelings of wonder and transcendence are all aspects of spirituality that can be fostered through drama. Drama, like spirituality, acknowledges that teaching and learning are not merely cognitive but are essentially emotional, aesthetic, and ethical.

The transformation of time and space is an essential part of drama and is often achieved through the creation of a community. Space and time are also central to spirituality. In drama a sense of the place and the people in the faith or secular tale is built, both fictionally and for real. For example, maps of a village may be drawn, people at work improvised, and different settings and related scenarios created. Through participation in the lives of others and through empathetic engagement in imaginary worlds, a sense of community can be experienced, although a balance needs to be struck between personal concerns and communal issues. Taking on a role is an act of authentic personal engagement, yet in drama more is demanded since participants operate together, responding to one another as members of the communal narrative.

Reflective connections too are central, to enable the learners to perceive links between the life of this community and their own lives. In the context of drama, time is taken to step out of the fictional frame, and imaginative connections are prompted in the form of text-to-life and life-to-text moves. In this way, the learners coauthor the text from the inside, making sense and constructing meaning together. In addition, through inventing possible scenarios and discovering the unknown, young people will be reasoning, moralizing, and imagining-some of the implicit strategies vital for a maturing spirituality. If young people write during drama, this often demonstrates their reflective tenor and emotionally positioned stance, fueling the processes of identification, connection, and transformation. They can also discuss parallel situations in the world and make freeze frames, for example, depicting similar situations both past and present in the world. If they are given the opportunity to explore these issues further, from within the relative safety of a distancing framework, then the young learners will not be made to feel personally vulnerable or exposed, even though they will be emotionally and psychologically involved. The drama and the reflective discussions provide a safety net and enable the learners to empathize whilst being given the space in which to reflect and quest for understanding within a communally shared context.

Reflective engagement such as this can help young people handle ambiguity and uncertainty, explore different ways of seeing, and keep an open mind, all of which are responsibilities of spiritual education. In the midst of the imagined community created, young people can discover their true nature, since the conflicts and tensions evident in drama are often experienced as real and begin to blur the distinction between being and becoming. In responding to the difficult situations in the unfolding drama, selfknowledge can be developed through relationships as decisions and moral choices are made. Spiritual development happens not only in the positive and warm relationships but through exploring relationships of pain and suffering as well, and in drama such difficult relationships are often to the fore. The dual process of finding oneself and losing oneself within the greater whole occur in drama, as children construct their own and others' narratives in order to explore their place in the world. The ascendancy of the collective is a significant feature of such drama, enabling both collaborative meanings to be wrought and individual insights to be accessed. Such drama can also encourage selfacceptance and increase trust in educational contexts.

Opportunities for feelings of transcendence exist in drama, particularly when ritual and symbols are used and when time is spent in silent contemplation, evoking a sense of timelessness or placelessness and creating an intense aesthetic experience. The children's exposure to awe, wonder, and fear through the engagement of their imaginations is central to this, for drama provides the chance to grapple with ultimate questions and deep dilemmas. Spirituality too addresses some fundamental human questions about the presence of a god, death, afterlife, grief, and loss for example. In opening up their awareness of such issues and responding to life experiences that are difficult to comprehend, drama enables young people to sense the mysterious, the possible, and the spiritual and helps them tangibly contemplate the essence of the human spirit. The ritual context can give increased access to spiritual insight. The moral dilemmas, spiritual concerns, and ambiguous social issues that permeate faith tales make such stories very appropriate resources for exploratory classroom drama. Symbols, stories, parables, poems, and allegories can be brought to life and examined through the words, the movements, and the gestures of improvisational drama. In such drama, combined learning about religious narrative and spiritual awareness may be developed in a fluid and holistic manner. Such opportunities can empower children to become spiritually richer by releasing their human potential and recognizing their capacity to learn in an integrated manner. Through its emphasis on group cooperation and relationships, the significance of the feeling quality and the importance of the collective, drama can make an important contribution to spiritual development. By involving children in the action and moving constantly between engagement and reflection, children stand both within and outside themselves in dramatic contexts. This oscillation between affective engagement and emotional or cognitive distancing is the hallmark of drama and enables the learners to pause, to connect, and to consider the text they have created. This reflective space can deepen their sensitivity to moral and spiritual issues. Within the creative and reflective endeavors of drama, meaning and purpose are explored, and the chance to develop selfknowledge and increase insight abound. The symbiotic relationship between spirituality and drama, show how drama, as the art form of social encounters, can unlock a range of processes and strategies that enrich children's spiritual development.