Psychodrama is 101 years old today!! April 1st 2022

Moreno would meet with actors and artists at the Café Museum in Vienna.  He enjoyed the creative energy that these meetings sparked in him and eventually got the loan of a theatre owned by the father of an actress. Vienna at the time was going through political upheaval and the Austro-Hungarian empire was crumbling.  This idea came to him to put on an event about finding a new King for Austria.  He publicised the event and promised that the new king would be in attendance.  Politicians, clergymen and other influential people were invited and on the day of the ‘show’ there were about 1000 people at the theatre in attendance.  On the stage was a plush red chair with gilt arms and back.  On the seat of the chair was a crown.  

Moreno appeared on the stage and announced that he was the King’s jester.  He asked the audience for volunteers who would like to come up on stage to be the king.  The audience had mixed reactions.  Some stood up in disgust and left the theatre.  Others shouted and jeered using the event to voice their political views.  Nobody came up on the stage to play the role of the king.  Moreno states that this was the day that psychodrama was born, April 1st 1921. Later he would acknowledge that it was actually a Sociodrama.  This acting out of a common concern of a group using made up roles had its first appearance on that day.

It is this date, April 1, 1921, upon which psychodrama was born, Moreno maintains, and every serious student of psychodrama learns this fact, even though the event itself is what Moreno would later call Sociodrama, and even though there were events preceding and subsequent to this one that are considered as germane to the origins of psychodrama. The one that most closely resembles therapeutic psychodrama occurred a couple of years after this official “birth” of psychodrama.- Nolte 2014

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