Dr. Moreno, in his account of his only encounter with Freud, says, “Dr. Freud, you analyse people’s dreams, I give them the courage to dream again.”
My own experience of psychodrama has validated my own natural tendency towards being a dreamer and on the 21st September 1990 I realised one of those dreams.
This dream was to open Ireland’s first Psychodrama Theatre, which would allow me to share with others a versatile and useful method of group psychotherapy, namely psychodrama, and ultimately, through training, make this available in hospitals, schools and prisons throughout the country.
Why do we need a Psychodrama Theatre? Let us turn to Moreno for his answer. “The ultimate resolution of deep mental conflict requires an objective setting, the therapeutic theatre. Like in religion, although the devout may pray to God in his own chamber, it is in the church where the community of believers attain the most complete confirmation of their faith.”
Our theatre at Newtown House is a converted cowbyre, 42 feet long, 16 feet wide with thick limestone walls and a high vaulted ceiling. Theatre lighting and a balcony on the stage area provide in Moreno’s words ” a living space which is multidimensional and flexible to the maximum. The living space of reality is often narrow and restraining, he may easily lose his equilibrium. On the stage he may find it again due to its methodology of freedom – freedom from unbearable stress and freedom for experience and expression. The stage space is an extension of life beyond the reality tests of life itself.”
Jinnie Jeffries officially opened the theatre and directed the inaugural psychodrama weekend workshop. Thanks to the artistry and skill of Jinnie ’s directing, the weekend was characterised by an intensity and completeness which respected the varied paces of the individuals present. On Sunday afternoon, after the workshop, as the group had tea together by a log fire in the drawing room, participants looked “tired but happy”, batteries re-charged and ready to take up their various roles in life again.
For myself, my husband and our son it proved an enriching experience, sharing our home with such special people. In the weeks which followed, we recollected with pleasure the babble of animated conversation around our large kitchen table, as they ate with gusto our home grown produce – all just as we had imagined it would be – but the actuality was none the less overwhelming.
Catherine Murray is founder and director of the Newtown House Centre for Psychodrama Training, Doneraile, Co. Cork.