Drama, spirituality and healing : towards a contextual exploration of dramatic methodologies for healing black gay men in the greater Pietermaritzburg area.
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This study explores the interconnectedness of drama, spirituality and healing among an established group of black gay males in the Pietermaritzburg area who agreed to work with me towards self-empowerment through drama. It examines, through a synthesis of educational drama methodology, community theatre methodology and drama therapy methodology, an appropriate and contextual way to use drama as a means of educating (educational drama methodology), conscientising (community theatre methodology) and therapy (drama therapy methodology) to some of the dis-ease reported by members of this group. Drama and therapy are closely interwoven (Moreno, 1970) and it is possible to create a dramatic context within which both individual and community development can be enhanced. Boal (1995) observes that our personal and corporate identities are ordered by a variety of oppressive social systems. Similarly, Graham (1992) argues that these social systems organise our psyches and our behaviours into patterns of domination and subordination. There are many theorists and practitioners in the field of drama (educational drama, community theatre and drama therapy) who have researched, implemented and published dramatic techniques and methodologies, some of which are taught at various institutions and implemented with various groups of people. However, according to my knowledge, there are no drama practitioners who have focussed on using the medium of drama to bring about social change in the lives of black gay males in the Pietermaritzburg area. It is against this background that I undertook this experiential study which is primarily aimed at assisting black gay males to move away from personal and social alienation towards individual and communal integration. This study is structured into two parts. Part I develops a theoretical overview of sexuality, spirituality and drama. It argues, in Chapter One that the Church has had a history of intolerance and judgement towards gays and continues to repress them from a traditional, negative stance on homosexuality. In Chapter Two, the issue of femininity and masculinity is examined, arguing that traditional patriarchal, and heterosexual masculinity [and femininity] is a socially constructed behaviour which is similar to the way in which gay masculinity [and femininity] is constructed. Chapter Three investigates the educational, conscientising and therapeutic origins of drama, with an aim of implementing some of these dramatic methodologies with the drama group. Part II concentrates on the application of the theory discussed in Part I to the practice of drama as an educational, conscientising and therapeutic means with a black gay drama group. It provides an analysis of the exercises and improvisations in practice; observations, evaluations and conclusions based on the drama practise with this particular group. Chapter Four provides a detailed summary of thirty black gay male's profiles in the Pietermaritzburg area. This portrait of black gay males provides one with a clearer contextual understanding of these gays, especially in the areas of culture, spirituality, identity and sexuality. Chapter Five provides a detailed outline of a sequence of exercises and improvisations for each of the nine sessions, which were tailored to engage the drama group in productive educational, conscientising and therapeutic activities. These activities may also have applicability to other groups of gays (i.e. Indians, Coloureds, Whites and multi-racial / multi-cultural groups), and/or black, and/or male persons in other localities. Chapters Five, Six and Seven, focus respectively on my experiences of planning, implementing and evaluating the drama workshops and the various drama methodologies that were introduced in Chapter Three and employed by the participants. These chapters, especially Chapter 6, focus specifically on the participants' evaluation of the actual workshops. In conclusion, this study argues that drama, if contextrialised, can offer a unique educational, conscientising and therapeutic potential among black gay males that I worked with in the Pietermaritzburg area.
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