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Sociodrama

What is a Socio Drama?  Common Questions and Answers:

What is a "sociodrama"?

What kinds of situations have you portrayed with the sociodrama?

What is the role of the facilitator?

What is a typical sequence of sociodrama related activities, from its introduction to conclusion?

What makes the sociodrama so effective?

Why shouldn't I just go out and get a good video or film on a topic instead?

How do you go about selecting actors to ensure that they can portray the required "character" most effectively?

How long does the sociodrama take and how large can an audience be?

How do the sociodramas fit in with your program or even with ours?

Is it expensive?

Do the actors perform a set script?

How  do you determine the success of the sociodrama workshops?

What is a "sociodrama?"
A "sociodrama" is a dramatic enactment of real life situations or conflicts that often go unresolved. It is presented using a highly-trained staff of actors, or as we prefer to call them, "professional dramatists," and a facilitator. Because the issues, culture, and employees of every organization are different, sociodramas on any given topic are always custom-designed based on client feedback. The sociodrama goes well beyond traditional "role play" in that the dramatists, unlike employee participants, are not intimidated by who is in the audience, and, of course, are trained professionals.
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What kinds of situations have you portrayed with the sociodrama?
A sample of workplace sociodramas include those dealing with: sexual harassment, management / subordinate relationships, conflict, interpersonal and team relationships, gender and race issue, employee performance, and many others.
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What is the role of the facilitator?
The facilitator is an integral part of the sociodrama. He / she acts as a conduit between the actors and the audience. The facilitator presents a prologue introducing a topic geared to the specific audience. He/ she then introduces the actors and gives an overview of the scene. During the course of action and inter-action, the facilitator guides the participants through Q & A and also directs and controls the actors to be sure all themes are addressed.
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What is a typical sequence of sociodrama related activities, from its introduction to conclusion?
The facilitator begins with a brief overview of the work situation and typically introduces the actor as "employee of 'Company X', a company similar to yours." The actors next introduce themselves in character and set the stage, each from his own vantage point.

After they establish themselves and the situation, the facilitator "stops the action" and addresses the audience with questions about what is happening, what might be behind it, etc. Participants respond and then the highly improvisational nature of the sociodrama experience takes over. The actors talk to audience members and also to their fellow actors, always in character. Several sequences of actor-to-actor and actor-to-audience interactions go on interspersed with "stop actions" and questions and comments by the facilitator.

At the end of the sociodrama, the facilitator will make key "learning points" based on what has occurred and about the subject at hand. The audience is invited to engage either the facilitator or actors in discussion. When the sociodrama is "over" there will be a debriefing period in which the actors introduce themselves in "real life."
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What makes the sociodrama so effective?
Our considerable experience with the sociodrama "technology" suggests that is works because:
- It grabs and hold audience attention
- It facilitates participant identification with true-to-life characters & situations
- It involves individuals - via interplay with the actors (always "in-role") - in gaining new perspective on the rational and emotional barriers associated with the issue or conflict at hand -- and learning new, more effective ways to handle the situation. And, this occurs in a comparatively short time.
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Why shouldn't I just go out and get a good video or film on a topic instead?
The technology of sociodrama is superior to films and / or video as it is in an "interactive, living" video - with characters and situational nuances customized to the client's particular needs and environment. No off-the-shelf video can match the impact that real people can make. An audience cannot get responses from a celluloid character.
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How do you go about selecting actors to ensure that they can portray the required "character" most effectively?
The majority of our dramatists are professional actors. Most have had careers in business and industry and some are retired executives or people who have made career changes. A number of our actors work on Broadway or off-Broadway, in community theater, television, and films.

Our dramatists are adept at improvising - they must be able to think on their feet and respond well under audience pressure (quite common!).

We not only look for improvisational talent, experience, and flexibility, but more importantly a sensitivity to the needs of others. And, of course, a commitment to working towards the common goal of serving our client.
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How long does the sociodrama take and how large can an audience be?
In general, one to two hours, depending upon the degree of audience participation, the subject matter, etc. There are also some situations where we use one or more short (i.e. three to five minute) vignettes instead of a "full length" sociodrama. We have worked for audiences that ranged from 10 to 400. The greatest impact is felt when the audience is between 20 and 25.
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How do the sociodramas fit in with your program - or even with ours?
The sociodrama may be used:
   -Typically as part of one of our workshops that are from one-half to one or more days.
   -As a "stand alone" module used as part of your own, internal programs. For example, the sociodrama can serve as the centerpiece of an "awareness" building -- and motivational -- introductory module or as a "kickoff" session that occurs days before your internal program.
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Is it expensive?
Considering the staff involved - usually three dramatists and a facilitator - and developmental time (including need and analysis and rehearsals), our per diem or project charges are surprisingly reasonable.
Contact us for specifics.
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Do the actors perform a set script?
No. Except for the first few minutes of the sociodrama when the "stage" must be set, there is no set script. The sociodrama is, in effect, an "interactive performance" in that all of it is improvisation. This is especially the case once audience participation begins
.
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How do you determine the success of the sociodrama workshops?
By evaluation sheets completed by audience members. We also follow-up with our clients later with guidelines and recommendations for suggested next steps to further progress. We get calls for repeat performances sometimes years after the first drama has been used. Clients will tell us they remember the drama, the actors and the issues as well as what they learned.
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