03 May 2014

Placing oneself into the biblical story: a reflection on bibliodrama

In the week leading up to Easter, Matthijs and I both participated in a class on leading Bibliodrama. Contrary to what might expect from the name, Bibliodrama is not about acting out biblical stories. Instead, it involves listening to a (biblical) story, then placing one into the role of one of the characters, potentially interacting with other characters and expressing oneself within one's role.

Bibliodrama allows one to place oneself into the biblical story. By doing so, one can learn more about the biblical text and oneself. It can be a deeply emotional experience, as the combination of being yourself while taking on a specific role can often help reveal desires, fears and emotions that are not often expressed. It also brings the biblical story to life in the sense that the actions and characters become more real, especially as one listens to others interpret the biblical characters. Bibliodrama provides a way for the Word of God to work in and through us.

As far as I know, Bibliodrama developed in Germany as a variation on psychodrama. This stream of Bibliodrama tends toward being a several hour event where everyone (8-15 individuals) takes on a role (same/different) in a biblical story, is interviewed by the leader, and guided interactions occur between the 'players.' This can sometimes be a bit overwhelming, especially when the leader focuses on one individual and you feel like you're eavesdropping on someone else's therapy. The Belgian stream, however, has taken the more classic form of bibliodrama and developed variations on it. These shorter forms of Bibliodrama are more ideal for use by Bible teachers and as part of retreats or adult education classes and allow for short, but still insightful interactions with the biblical text. Matthijs and I were trained to lead a few of these shorter forms of Bibliodrama.

I tried a short variation of Bibliodrama in our chapel service on Holy Saturday. I wasn't expecting that it would be quite so full, which brought with it quite a bit of distraction, and I wasn't entirely willing to have the focus of the chapel be a Bibliodrama exercise instead of a meeting with God. So the exercise in Bibliodrama wasn't quite as effective as it might have been; at the same time, I hope and trust that people did gain deeper insight into dark day in the biblical story.

Matthijs and I took home a lot of notes and a textbook, so hopefully we will both have the chance to practice our training again in the near future.

1 comment:

Judith Cooke said...

sounds like ignatian prayer too!
cool that you and matthjis are doing this.