Intergenerational Life Drama

Posted by: Priya Senroy on April 4, 2011 10:40 am

The concept of Life Drama was originally inspired by Dr. Robert Butler’s (1967, 1975), who mentions that life review is a major task of aging, an imperative for older people who often feel their lives have been meaningless. This philosophy can be found these days with the youth of the present generation who  are at risk.

Intergenerational Life Drama is an interesting approach while working with these two population groups.  One type of enactment that is often enjoyed is that of those who are in a group with a similar sub-cultural or ethnic makeup, because they can talk about the foods, the music, the sub-cultural heroes, legends, the old country, the traditions, superstitions, jokes, and other elements that make for the richness of a cultural identity (Wilder, 2006).

Inspired by the works of Rosalyn Wilder, an expert in drama with elders, creative drama, and intergenerational theatre,  a workshop was offered in a local Resource Centre where an intergeneration group of elders and youth participated in an  improvisations based on a  approach which  is similar to the Biblio drama.

In this workshop where current social issues with a historical background were explored, participants choose improvisation based on a shared cultural text–the Asian version of Aesop’s Fables-The Panchatantra Tales.

The Elders and the youth engaged in dialogues over the efficacy of presenting such stories in present times where both the groups reached a consensus that social and moral values are fading away slowly from the fabric of the modern society. The elders who are often in a care giving role in these youths’ life found a channel where open communication and moral dialogues had the opportunity to cross fertilize and germinate into creative works of arts. The bulk of the work was working from a theme, weaving in the group member’s life stories, and having a composite general enactment emerge as a modified improvisational process.   Deciding to work in their separate demographic group, the elders decided to write a script and stick to the originality of the story structure, character and ambiance of the selected fable. The younger generation on the other hand, decided to change the endings, used improvisation, props and incorporated their present life stories within the broader context of the fables. Along the way the group also toyed with the idea of changing the moral to make it more realistic and update date within their current social context. Drugs, violence, parent-youth conflict topics were interspersed throughout the improvisation.

It was interesting to see the two perspectives of one fable and the improvisations created a definite paradigm shift in attitudes of both the groups. Suddenly there was mutual respect and better understanding between them; the dialogues were not so much oppositional. The workshop also provided opportunity for some of the participants at risk to seek youth counselling along with their elder caregivers to further their personal growth and development.

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

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