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The Psychodrama Stage

Posted March 24, 2008 (by Adam Blatner).
From: Enneis, James (Jim). (1952). Establishing a Psychodrama Program. Group Psychotherapy 5 (2), 111-119. (Writing about building the Stage at St. Elizabeths Hospital), but referring also to the stage it was modeled from at Moreno’s Sanitarium in Beacon, New York):  Selections:

Theatre Selection and Stage Construction

The Psychodrama Theatre should be centrally located for the patients it is to serve. A room 48 feet by 48 feet, with a ceiling, at least 13 feet high, will be adequate for most needs (Figure 1). (If there is a lower ceiling it will necessitate reducing the rises of the various levels of the stage. This results in a second level which cannot be used comfortably for interviews. A low ceiling also prevents the use of small tables or chairs as a substitute balcony when moving into power roles.)

The room's construction should be such that it can be blacked out. Otherwise, the stage lighting may not be effectively used. Rest room and drinking fountain facilities should be easily accessible.
stage front Figure 1.

The stage should be sturdily constructed. In order to prevent a drum effect when people walk upon it, sub-flooring should go all the way across on each level. This is especially necessary when sessions are being recorded as the sound of heels will overpower voices.

The screens (at St. Elizabeths, not at the original Moreno stage) shown in Figures 2 and 3 may be made of plywood or ceiling, and should be stained to match the natural finish of the hardwood flooring used.

  stage from above
  side view stage
   Figure 2
  Figure 3

Stage Lighting

Lightining  (Figure 4) should be wired so that separate switches control stage and house lights. Stage lights should be on a four-color circuit with dimmer controls. There should be a master switch controlling all stage lights as well as switches for the individual color circuits. Baby spots, or light borders may be used. 
stage lighting

'Light borders are preferable in that they give more diffuse light for the entire stage area. You may use a single border, or two borders, one over the front of the stage, and one in the center, rear. Borders should be tilted so that the shadow line falls in front of the audience's chairs. Suitable borders may be ordered, ready wired, from most large theatrical supply houses. Usually, a 75-100 watt border light, constructed of 2-gauge sheet metal, and wired with number 12 asbestos wire, will be satisfactory. Receptacles should be one piece porcelain, or aluminum type with medium screw base sockets, spaced on 8" centers. Roundels in white, amber, red, blue, and green should be purchased with appropriate retaining rings. The amber roundels are used in the white circuit (See Figure 4) 100 watt bulbs will give a satisfactory intensity of light as wired in the diagram.

For dimmer controls we find "Superior Variable Voltage Control" most satisfactory. These dimmers work by throwing the voltage back in the line, and do not heat up or hum. They do not squeak nor require graphite applications. These are available through most large radio supply houses. The size needed for these lights has an output of 135 volts and 7.5 amps, and 1.0 KVA. A double outlet should be available near the light controls so that recording or other equipment may be used.
Stage Furniture and Seating

Stage furniture should be of neutral design and as light as is consistent with practicability and sturdiness. Inexpensive rush furniture is quite satisfactory. (Nowadays, we have access to cheap plastic-mold chairs–AB, 2008.)

There should be two arm chairs, two small end tables,, and a larger table of standard height (approximately 28" x 28") a chaise lounge and four straight chairs.

The types of chairs used in the Theatre for the audience is dependent upon the kinds of groups with which you expect to work. In psychiatric hospitals, if you carry a full program you will find a number of untidy patients who can be worked with quite satisfactorily. The chairs, therefore, should be easy to clean. We have found that metal folding chairs without upholstering are most satisfactory. These are easily moved to satisfy requirements of all members of the group.