CRITICS' CORNER – THE FICTIONAL FAMILY
"The mosaic of teacher instruction and student response, speckled with quotations from experts in relevant disciplines, presents an impressive canvas of dynamic activity.
And what is that activity? Students structure a family for themselves and live out new lives and relationships in such a way that they discover fresh qualities, perceptions and skills within themselves..."
- Sir Arnold Wesker, English playwright and theatre director
"The whole idea of the fictional family is brilliant and innovative. It bridges therapy to drama as well as the real self and the imaginary one. It puts to work the mind, the body and the emotions from an individual self-absorbed state of being to the collective..."
- Alexandre Hausvater, theatre director
"This book is of special interest to actors and drama teachers. On that level alone it's fascinating reading. For me as a family therapist, the unfolding of each character, in each story, demonstrates that reality is a personal construction - not discovered but invented. This presentation while focused on actors, and masquerading as the acquisition of skills, is in fact of vital importance in understanding how we think. Therefore it is of great interest to everyone interested in human behavior."
- Olga Silverstein, Family therapist, Ackerman Insitute for Family Therapy,
"Every drama teacher and therapist should read this book."
- Richard Courtney, RDT Registered Drama therapist and Professor, Graduate Centre for Drama, University of
"Descriptions of how she builds experiences for her students are clear and wise. They show a depth of understanding of the teaching process and of theatre...Of special interest to drama therapists are her students' observations of connections between Self and the fictional character the self creates.
The book thus not only provides valuable insights and techniques and a richness of approach, but an opportunity to share in students' unguarded and unhypothesized comments on their characters' connections to themselves, which provides strong support to the efficacy of dramatic play in the expression and growth of the self."
- Barbara MacKay, RDT Registered Drama Therapist and Associate Vice-Rector, Concordia University, in DRAMASCOPE, Vol 12, No.1, 10-11, 1992
"The "fictional family" is a versatile technique for studying the practical dynamic of acting. It keeps students securely enough grounded to allow them to take risks, and they do. Their degree of engagement is apparent in the excerpts from their writing that Muriel Gold uses to reveal the inner workings of the class. Not only are these students excited and challenged by the experience, they perceive and acknowledge their own progress and that of their classmates. In defining creative process, that's no small achievement."
- Raye Anderson, Theatre Department, Summer, 1993
"The text's strongest aspect is that, as a resource for the practitioner, it is replete with activities and suggested leadership techniques. Gold has included sample lesson plans including her sidecoaching; because she writes in the actual language a group leader would use, there is greater likelihood that the practitioner reading this text will consider trying her approaches. She clearly demonstrates how she moves sequentially from one activity to another, each progressive activity urging students toward greater authenticity in their acting. Unlike many texts that describe vocal and physical warmups in isolation from the the overall session objectives, Ms Gold's warmups closely relate to the intended theme of each scene. The primary intent of the warmups is to assist the actors in moving toward greater honesty and credibility in their characterizations. Within each session, there is a flow from individual, internalized guided imagery to ultimate ensemble work...
Drama therapists, though not the intended primary market for this college theatre text, can derive many significant, workable ideas and insights from the activities employed in the creation of the fictional family."
- Ellen Williams, MS, RDT, Caldwell College, New Jersey in THE ARTS AND PSYCHOTHERAPY, Vol 20, No 1, 99-102, 1993
"The genius of Gold's approach is two-fold. First, she uses the particular technique of the fictional family to draw together in a coherent and developmental whole both theory and practice from a range of dramatic approaches. Her technique has roots in improvisation, creative drama, drama therapy, psychodrama, family therapy, videotherapy, sociodrama, group work, Gestalt therapy, visual arts therapy and mask characterization...Gold also draws from several major approaaches to rehearsal and performance styles, most notably Stanislavski, Brecht, and Beckett...
The second strength of her approach is its adaptability to other purposes, with other groups, in other settings. Herein lies its potential for the English language arts program, certainly at the secondary level but even at the upper elementary level as well... to apply it to already-existing literary characters in a short story, novel, or play...to use them [the fictional family characters created] as the basis for fictional writing...
Finally, the technique could be used for several related educational goals, such as multicultural education for example...(see Gold's article "The Fictional Family: A Perspective of Many Cultures" in Vol 25, No 1 of English Quarterly)".
-David Dillon, Department of Educational Studies, Faculty of Education,
, in ENGLISH QUARTERLY, Vol 25, No 2, 30-31, 1993
Educators and social workers have long known the therapeutic benefits of role-playing in family counselling. In this book, through her FICTIONAL FAMILY technique, Muriel Gold provides the bridge between couselling and drama, by inviting readers to eavesdrop on her acting classes and to look over her students' shoulders as they express personal reactions to their drama experiences.
"Stanislavski, the legendary Russian theatre director, carried actors into imaginary circumstances through the use of the "Magic If', says Gold. "The actors would approach their roles by imagining what they would do IF they were King Lear or Ophelia.
The FICTIONAL FAMILY technique can be of value not only to actors, directors, and theatregoers, but also to teachers and those in the social sciences, psychology and the arts in general. By building awareness of creative potential and tapping into our unique inner resources, the technique becomes a vehicle for personal development, communication and social skills."
"Gold offers an approach to acting and developing personal insight which has been thought out with the sincerity and experience of a woman who wholeheartedly invests in her creative work. I commend her innovative perspective in bonding life with actor training in such a basic yet freshly angled manner."
-Elizabeth Stroppel, Theatre Department, The University of Texas at Austin, in THEATRE JOURNAL, Johns Hopkins University Press, Vol 46, no 4, 563-64, 1994