Psycho-drama theater allows Romani women to work through trauma

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Theater is one of the most potent tools in healing psychological trauma. UATV has a report about one Roma theater in Hungary that seeks to help people work through their emotions. Storytelling and the arts have always been used as a medium for working through our own hardships and traumas, both as individuals and collectively.

In the small village of Szomolya in northern Hungary, about half way between Budapest and Ukraine, a group of Romani women have taken this idea to heart. With the support of NGOs, they have created a theater where they can tell their own stories and fight against the Roma community’s long-held status as a silenced and neglected minority.

Zsanett Horvath, actress in “Long Live Regina”

I was only allowed to go in after dark, after it was closed so the clients should not see that I was a gypsy — well this killed that job off for me completely, I did not work there anymore.

However, this is not an ordinary theater troupe. It is a specialized form of therapy called pyscho-drama. The primary theory behind pyscho-drama is the idea of “spontaneity-creativity.” Through a variety of techniques, including soliloquys and role-reversals, participants work through their own emotions as actors.

Judith Teszary, Psycho-Dramatist

They go through self-recognition. They realize that these stories can be told, it is not a shame. They told me that they could at last feel free of that shame, realizing it was not their shame — but this is what is happening in a society where discrimination against the Roma is grave. This is what this theatre play has brought to here.

In this group, eight Roma women between the age of 18–60 took part in the psycho-drama training. It was a very emotional process that often ended in either tears or laughter, sometimes both. After understanding the methods, they weaved their stories in an hour-long play about a community coming together to celebrate the 50th birthday of a woman named Regina and telling each other stories. The title is “Long Live Regina.”

The play was first performed in Szomolya, but also went on the road to ‘Trafo’ theatre in Budapest where it was attended by a mostly non-Roma audience. The audience walked away from the performance knowing more about the various forms of discrimination that the actors have faced, from being denied the right to stay with their children in hospitals, to forced sterilization.

Ilona Orgon, actress In “Long Live Regina”

Don’t you understand Hungarian? Read my lips: you do not need to bring any more milk. The baby boy died.

Renata Bader, actress in “Long Live Regina”

We are now brave enough to tell our stories, these all happened to us, our stories and it happened to others too. We and the others should not allow this, they should fight back and bang on the table. We should not let ourselves be humiliated.

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