Friday, August 31, 2012

Clint Eastwood's empty chair? He needs a director!

Photo with Clint and chair, borrowed from CBS News site.

Actor Clint Eastwood tried out the "empty chair" technique last night at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., talking to an invisible Barack Obama.

His drama was self directed -- we in psychodrama call that a monodrama -- and everyone from The Huffington Post to The Washington Post is talking about it this morning. Rachel Maddow called it weird, and a few others thought it was a joke. Obama got into the act by Tweeting a picture of himself, sitting in his presidential chair, saying, "This seat's taken."

Politics aside, the empty chair started out as a sociodramatic invention, when Dr. J.L. Moreno introduced it in 1921 in his famous theater presentation, asking for a leader to take the "throne" that he placed on a stage in Vienna, Austria. (No one stepped up.) In later years, Moreno's wife and collaborator Zerka Moreno expanded the technique for psychodramatic purposes, with the protagonist talking directly to a  significant person during a drama.

See my video here.

I don't think Clint would pass our practitioner's exam. He could have used a director to keep him on task and to encourage him to role reverse with the "other" in the chair. Role reversal -- feeling into the experience of the other -- creates empathy and understanding of the other's viewpoint.

...Something that politics needs more of.