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Mimi Katzenbach

Dramatic Changes: Life Coaching in the Era of Climate Change



What is an underlying question that gives form to your work or interest in this field?

How is drama collective wisdom, and collective wisdom, drama?

What is your personal experience of collective wisdom in groups?

I did playback theatre for many years, in performance, education, and corporate training.  Because playback is improvisation, it’s all about what emerges from the group process.

I was the playback “Conductor,” the one who facilitates the group experience.  I came to see the Conductor as helping the group find whatever it needed to evolve in a salutary direction.

In drama education theory, there is an emphasis on educating “toward knowing” rather than acquiring knowledge.   In playback, I worked hard to develop myself as an instrument to conduct a group toward wisdom, healing, and celebration.
After about ten years, I left playback and went on a quest for my own theatre method.  Things kept on pointing me to the amphitheatres in Greece.  I came to understand that, at its inception, the aim of drama was wisdom (not art).  The first actor was a ‘conductor’ (vehicle, instrument, vessel, agent) whose sacred, civic purpose was to move Greek culture toward flourishing (eudaimonia).

Imagine if each and every one of us developed the skills to be the best instrument for the flourishing of the whole human ensemble we can be.  What a world we would create!

I am all about creating that world through my writing, my theatre art, and my life coaching.

What is it about the work in this field that excites you and connects you to your own deepest self?

I stand on stage before an audience of all humans on Earth.

I am holding Pandora’s Box.  It has been back stage for thousands of years, ever since Pandora (which means “divine gift to all”) let loose the ‘tragedies’ that afflict humanity and left only hope inside the box.

I can’t help myself; my need for hope is so great.

I start to lift the lid.

The audience gasps.

Just a peek, I say (forgetting it was Pandora’s excuse, too). I peek in. The box holding hope is empty!  I am dumbstruck.

Show us! The audience cries.  Show us what hope is!

Anguished, I turn the box around.  I slowly open it all the way, toward the audience, preparing myself for the collective outcry of despair.

Why is the whole world laughing and clapping with joy?

I turn the open box back to me.

The entire interior is made of mirrors.

When I peeked in to find hope only for myself, I saw nothing.

When I opened the box of hope toward the whole human collective, humanity saw itself as the hope we have left.

Please provide a brief storyline or snapshot of what brought you to this work.

In addition to playback’s intellectual roots in and affinities with Moreno, Bateson, Martin Buber and play theory (Ackerman, Turner, Huizinga), my intellectual journey has been through Jungian psychology (Hillman), Ecopsychology (Aizenstadt, Roszak), Feminism (Care theory, Riane Eisler’s dominator/partner paradigm, connected knowing), Giftedness (Dubrowski), and the new cosmology (Swimme, Berry – which is almost all drama metaphors and concepts!) 

The past few years I have been immersed in drama education theory, culminating in a Masters thesis in education that I completed last year, The Dran Model of Education for Human Flourishing (“dran” is the original Greek word for drama).  I am now reshaping The Dran Model into a life-coaching model as I pursue life coach training (Dramatic Changes Life Coaching). 

It was only after all that that I thought to read Aristotle on Tragedy last year (I tend to do things inside out and backwards), and had the biggest aha of all: the Flipping Pattern I write about in my open letter.

How would you like to be available to others in this field?

The CW initiative I mention in my open letter, identifying the many iterations of the Tragedic Flipping Pattern in culture today, and developing group processes to ‘flip the flip.’  This could involve everything from conversation to collaboration on workshops to writing a book.  (There is a Comedic Flipping Pattern, too, manifesting all over the world.)

I am always open to conversation: phone and email are both good.

Links to this site or others

Dramatic Changes: Life Coaching in the Era of Climate Change

Letter from Mimi to "The Field" of the Collective Wisdom Initiative

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