Keynote Presentation
Drama Therapy and the Invisible Realm
Susana Pendzik, PhD, RDT

The notion of dramatic reality, which constitutes the main working tool of drama therapists, can be defined as a resourceful composite of imaginary and tangible worlds that reinvents itself every time a client agrees to partake of it. Dramatic reality intersects with four different and interconnected fields of knowledge – shamanism, theatre and the arts, spirituality, and psychotherapy –, sharing with them a profound awareness of the invisible and a focused engagement with it.

In traditional healing paradigms the invisible is conceived as a magical beyond to which shamans turn in order to perform their cures. In theatre and the arts, the imaginary realm is often perceived as possessing a more solid substance than plain mental imagery: Artists like Garcia Lorca, Rilke, and J.M. Barrie (among others), have referred to the experience of the invisible as a quasi-real dimension of the creative process. The invisible reverberates in the teachings of mystics and spiritually oriented people, whose journeys detail the metaphysical presence of another world, as attested by the writings of William James, Joseph Campbell and Saint Teresa of Avila. Finally, the invisible dimension is not alien to explorers of the psyche, such as Jung and Hillman, or to followers of phenomenological, intersubjective and transdisciplinary approaches.

These different and intertwined areas of knowledge (traditional healing systems, the creative process, spiritual journeys, and psychotherapy) are brought together in this keynote speech, through an exploration of the concept of the invisible as it illuminates and is illuminated by drama therapy thinking.