What is Bibliodrama?
Bibliodrama is a deep, experiential group method that uses action and methods techniques to investigate stories of our origins, such as the Scriptures. In addition it allows participants to connect to their own personal stories and find the web of connections between the collective stories and their personal stories.
It was founded in the 1980’s in the United States by Dr. Peter Pizzelle and continues to evolve and gain momentum around the world, inspired by Peter and his wife Susan.
Bibliodrama focuses on stories that have gaps in the text that we are able to fill in with our imagination, and that have room for improvisation.
It is a playful method, bypassing defenses, promoting spontaneity, connecting to our roots and growing our awareness and self-discovery.
Tradition teaches that the Torah was written in letters of black fire on a background of white fire. Bibliodrama focuses on the “white” blanks between the lines, investigate the gaps in information within the black written text — thus it can be regarded as playing with the white fire.
In Bibliodrama participants are invited by the director to step into the role of a Biblical figure. The facilitator presents a question and invites the participants to lend their voices to the Biblical figure and answer the questions in first person as if the story is their own story in the here-and-now, thus filling in the gaps spontaneously.
The purpose of Bibliodrama is NOT to push any officially approved or presumed ‘correct’ doctrines, nor does it imply that there is a “right way” to interpret a scripture passage. Rather Bibliodrama provides an opportunity for us to discover psychological insights that lend relevance to those stories and recognize that our own personal and spiritual journey today is perhaps not so different. It is rather a psychodrama of a Biblical story.
In the story we find our own voice and within us we look for the story’s voice. This reciprocal process helps us find the personal and universal truth within the story and expand our life experience.
Bibliodrama has two directions.
he first direction according to Pizzelle is the “window”– all participants are given the same role (for example: everyone is invited to play the role of Eve and are asked to respond to the same question given by the facilitator that is not answered in the scripture). The question is usually directed toward hidden feelings and thoughts. The different responses are different windows through which we all see different angles of the same character, thus creating a kaleidoscope of windows. Through the world of Dana, for example, we see Eve in a certain way; through Hanna we see it in a different way … and so on.
The other direction is the “mirror”. When Dana presents Eve through her window, Dana herself perceives her own reflection in the “mirror”. In this way, the characters in the Biblical story also play us.
In the mirror dimension lies our vulnerability and therefore it is the participant’s choice whether to share it.
It is important to clarify that Bibliodrama is not therapy in the classical sense of the word, but the work done with it does have therapeutic value.
Bibliodrama draws on some of its techniques from Psychodrama, a method of group therapy originated by J. L. Moreno (1941), in which group members explore, in action, the roles they play in their various relationships. This action-based role exploration helps participants gain insights into their beliefs and behavior patterns.