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Brainstorming in Playback



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Interplay XIX-2014
Brainstorming in Playback
Mostly I apply this technique when the supervisee would like to see new ideas presented by the supervision group. My perception at
such times is that the teller, aware of the personal involvement, is not prepared to share it but needs to ind a way out. The
technique of Brainstorming in Playback is quite appropriate to this end.
A member of the conductor workshop once shared with us a case when the teller’s story had shocked her. Sitting in the teller’s chair
in the supervision situation the subject shared with me her experience of conducting. She indicated that she would like to recount
the teller’s story, however, she needed to have ideas only about the conductor’s role. Mary also told me about the sense of
involvement she felt when hearing the teller speak about his father being taken away in an ambulance. His mother felt rather feeble
and freaked out. His younger sister despaired. He was to give them strength and support. „It was then that I began to feel involved”,
said the girl. „I knew the reason, too, although I don’t wish to discuss it right now. What I need to understand is what else I could
have done. I’d rather see the alternatives.”
During the next round I invited the actors to set the stage and the conductor’s corner. They were supposed, just like during a
brainstorming, to present as many ideas as might turn up spontaneously, focusing on the situation related by the supervision
subject. Being in a conductor workshop I considered that measure of playfulness to be proper in a supervision situation. In her
feedback Mária said that the emerging ideas had given her quite a lot. Following the play I asked her what exactly she received from
the supervision situation. „A rich set of tools and some relaxed shared experience”, was her reply.
Reconstruction in supervision
There are times when the conductor’s sense of con idence is lost due to personal involvement or anxiety. In such cases supervision
might act as reinforcement. The supervisee can facilitate this by telling about the actual experience and by reconstructing not only
what actually happened but also the internal experiences. This reconstruction, through rendering the internal “rambling”,
“involvement”, and “affect” on stage creates a “gestalt” experience. By offering a more complete view, this helps regain security and
control in the role of the conductor. Let me illustrate this with the following case:
During a company training abroad one conductor told of a “frozen experience”.
“During one playback theatre performance”, said Fédra, “when I was the conductor, one teller shared the experience of a trip in a
foreign country with her girlfriend. One night, on their way home from some entertainment, they were attacked. Both of them were
forced into a car, taken to a remote place and then raped by four men. Then they were thrown out of the car which then drove away.
When they returned home from their trip they didn’t tell anyone of what had happened.”
“On hearing this story”, said the supervisee, “I felt annihilated. I sweated and started to cry. I could hardly keep from sobbing and
running out of the room. Yet the scene was somehow accomplished. I have almost no memories of the whole thing except for my
own miserable experience, the sense of annihilation and shame. Since then I have never volunteered for conductorship.” Suspecting
that the story had recalled personal experiences all I did was wait, without asking Fédra or urging her, just being by her side. After a
short pause she remarked that she only wished to discuss her experience as a conductor. So I also focused on her experience in the
conductor’s role. I could see that the actors were prepared to interpret the conductor’s experience. As soon as I saw that Fédra was
in a receptive state I asked them to show it. While they were playing she was weeping all along. She was less and less able to restrain
herself. I took her hand. I could see that she was almost sobbing. When the playback was over the pain burst through. When she i-
nally calmed down she signalled that she had enough for the day, maybe next time she would be able to reveal more of how much
she was affected. I invite the actors to play this back to her as well.
As this was not a self-knowledge workshop (although self-knowledge was integral part of it) I asked Fédra (seeing she had become
completely calm by the end of the playback) to tell us what she, as a conductor, would have done differently. This opportunity made
her really active. “As a conductor” she said “the hardest experience was that I had so few memories of how I behaved.“ I told her, as a
supervisor’s feedback, how much strength it must have taken not to burst out crying and run away. I could see how this sentence
helped Fédra reinterpret her own action. “This feels very good”, she said. “Thank you. This is what I would like to see again on
stage.” While watching this played back to her Fédra was weeping again. These, however, were the tears of consolation. After this
work we formed a circle, as we would in psychodrama and self-knowledge groups and concluded the supervision by the group
members’ sharing of their stories connected to this experience of the role of the conductor.

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