The Dramatic Life 

...a presentation by The Inquisitional Inc. 

Welcome to The Inquisitional Inc. web page!

-Click here to link to our power point presentation
-Click here to link to Erika's video clip of our presentation
-Click here to see our last youtube video from "Enchanted" the movie



Group Members (from left to right):

- Michelle Tung:

 - Tina Wang:

- Janice Lin:

-please feel free to email any of us if you have any comments or questions regarding our web page-


 "We dramatize.  All of us.  Everyday. " (Scheibe 1)

" Drama is about how it fits into the runs of everyday life. It is about the drama of love, and death, and work, and sports. Above all it is about religion-- how people fit themselves together in the drama of life."



  How do we perceive transitional major life events portrayed in drama as reflections of our personal lives?


 -The Inquisitional Inc. presents the final group project, The Dramatic Life. In our presentation, we examine how our perceptions of major transitional life events are portrayed in drama and how they reflect our personal lives? First we look at what is drama, what types of transitional major life events to investigate, what genres of drama and how they reflect our lives. We then devise a short audience interactive improvisation by asking them to how we should act to certain scenarios(e.g. breaking up), then we show short clips of break-up scenes from some movies or television shows and compare them. We will ask the audience how they know how to react to these situations, if these scripts are innate or learned from watching other dramas. The reason for doing a improvisation/skit is to create a dramatic experience as related to our topic of discussion. Lastly, we compare the dramas in our lives and in other medias. How are they similar and how are they different, how are we affected by these dramas. Then we discuss why do we need dramas in our lives, what are the values of these drama, and are we active or passive viewers of these dramas. We will hand out an outline of our presentation for the audience to take notes and study for the final examination. We also incorporated music and images to enhance our power point presentation. -



 The Presentation:

1. definition - thesis and initial thoughts

  • what is drama?
    • heightened emotions
    • or rather, what is NOT drama? (no climax, not drama?)
  • what transitional major life events?

    • moving out, wedding, falling in love, birthdays, funeral, breaking up, graduation
    • news reports (homicides e.g., O.J. Simpson, airport security tazering)
  • how they reflect our lives?
    • we learn from what we see (even when we're not actively learning), we stigmatize/script these events either biologically or psychologically, "This is how you should react to this situation."
    • Turner: We create our own social meanings (e.g., symbolism of the kiss in weddings)  
  • genres or mediums of drama


  • TV, movies, our surroundings/social lives, radio, internet, traditional theatrical drama, real life theatres e.g., musical performance, grand central station performance, Dionysus '69

  • our presentation is a form of drama (presentation vs. workshop) we have a guideline embedded in our minds of how to do a presentation without much instruction from the prof., we build our own "drama" or presentation performance  
  • whose personal lives/everyday experience?
    • anyone. different type of drama for different lifestyles and influences, nevertheless, drama is everywhere and can happen to anyone.
    • in rural areas such as Africa, their everyday drama is the search for food and the flight to survive another day
    • in suburban areas, people create dramas by comparing their lives to TV drama series or celebrity lives 

The Quest for Knowledge - What Came Before

—Two famous books from the past century have “everyday life” in their titles. 
—  1. Freud’s Psychopathology of Everyday Life and  Erving Goffman's Presentation of Self in Everyday Life.    
—  2. Freud emphases that psychology is the cause of drama, while Goffman emphases that drama is the cause of everything else.
The theorist that asked the same question
—Scheibe criticizes psychology as a science that is not generally successful in offering convincing and satisfactory accounts of the wide range of events in our everyday lives.
—I believe that Scheibe point's to the psychology of drama or "quotidian psychology" for answers to these questions.
—The final word is to be able to possibility of extending serious sympathy to conditions not of our own.
Possible relationships between Psychology and Drama  
1. Psychology can be viewed as the science that explains or accounts for drama. 
2. Drama can be viewed as accounting for psychology, as well as for everything else.
3. Psychology and drama can be viewed as complementary approaches to truth and understanding-at the sameconceptual level, with frequent borrowings back and forth.
(Scheibe 7) 
  • vignettes and audience interactive sessions
      • draw out what we should act in each scenario provided by audience and compared to the vignettes we provide. 
    •              ask them "what would you do in this scenario? how did you know to do that?"

2. examples 

  • how are these experience portrayed?
    • exaggerated and dramatic (e.g., Disney satire "Enchanted", fake reality shows "The Hills", celebrity gossip shows and magazines, weddings "the kiss" compared to real weddings) 

3. reflection 

  • similarity and differences
    • roles we play are shaped by culture, society, and conventions
    • what is drama? what is NOT drama?
    • The presentatin of self in everyday life (Goffman)
    • When an individual plays a part he imlicitly requests his observers to take seriously the impression that is fostered before them. THey are asked to believe that the character they see actually possesses the attributes he appears to possess, that the task he performs will have the consequences that implicitly claimed for it, and that, in general, matters are what they appear to be. (17)
    • Practical jokes and social games are played in which embarrassments which are meant to be taken unseriously are purposely engineered. (14)
    • The implication here is that an honest, sincere, serious performance is less firmly connected with the world than one might at first assume. (71)
    • Scheibe states that the difference between drama and reality is the level of seriousness. Yet, he also states that level of seriousness can differ and vary according to perception. 

  • point of view matters
  • The point of view of audience as seeing therefore reflecting the drama. Obviously if the audience is involved with the drama, then the experience would be totally different as well. One would therefore become the actor.

    4. conclusion - final thoughts
    • how do we relate drama to our lives and how do they affect us? are we active or passive viewers?
      • perfection = staged
      • how do we know how to act in situations? is it innate or learned?
    • why do we watch dramas?
      • we are unfulfilled, always need to make a different, we create our own drama to entertain (e.g., celebrations, rituals) why can't we just exist and just be satisfied? why are we obsessed about climatic events (e.g., make some crimes more high profile than others, celebrity gossips) and we try to imitate them, why do we dramatize things? adrenaline?
      • we need drama because we get used to exciting events and they no longer evoke the same feelings anymore (the tried and trues). we learn, panic and move on.
      • comedy/"the strange" - going out of roles/context. psychology of release, laughter, and joy
      • Erika: "The Baby Story" relieves anxiety and fear for her daughter
      • pull us out of "mental normalcy"

      • is it possible to live without drama?
      • why do we need paid mourners, funeral directors, wedding planners (Source: Dramaturgical Analysis by Hare and Blumberg, Ch. 13)
      • For the senation, to be reminded of our existence of being alive.
      • Drama as making sense of the unknown.
      • To be engaged, to be a part of and to development a highersense of understanding.
      • "in all of these cases, the drama depends upon engagement of the circle." (20) 
      • An escape from boredom? Lure of danger? Enriching lives?


    • where else do we see drama in our everyday lives?
      • Cosmetics and costumes are unique to our species and of profound importance in the drama of everday life. THey are the material means for the transformation of the actor.


    Going back to the question...

    • Drama and the Subconscious mind
      • Freud drew readily upon the drama for illustraions of human behaviour and univrsal traits. Subconscious symbolism is sometimes seen in the active drama of the play; sometimes in the passive drama of dream. (120)
      • Could this mean that drama is the re-enactment of the universal symbolism universal to all humans? Therefore, this to me is significant. if this is true, it makes me wonder how are the symbolic representatives of drama in different cultures across time an re-enactment of the subconscious? Is there a pattern?
    • Drama as Theraputic 
      • Experiecing then understand and overcome in a safe controlled safe environment, which contains the subconscious mind's chaos (so in a way like a ritual) yet by re-eenacting these suppressed emotions one can have control of drama. To be an actor and play out these or release these emotions.
    • The Value of These Drama
      • affect of advertising companies
      • Going back to the beginning as Scheibe points out, the value of drama is to make one examine and broaden the boxes of perception that many of us has locked ourselves in. Hopefully by doing so, we come to break away from the false identity in realization for our higher true selves.


    Conclusion and Final Thoughts:

    Drama is everywhere and in everyone. We watch drama not purely for entertainment but also to learn about ourselves. We learn from other people's experience portrayed in these dramas and learn how we should react to certain situations. We as the audience of drama are not passive, we learn from what we see and stigmatize these information in our brain then use these scripts when a similar scenario occurs in the future.  For example, as Erika mentioned to our group in private that her daughter was really nervous about having a baby but by watching the show "The Baby Story", it relieved her tension and anxiety. The show was simply about other pregnant women and demonstrating what they had to go through during pregnancy. Just a simple watch and learn can make us feel better about ourselves. Nevertheless, our lives are exaggerated or "dramatized" on mediums such as television, radio, or the internet. By constantly watching these dramas, whether passively or actively, we learn to exaggerate our own lifestyles, creating our own real life dramas. Our lives therefore become more intensified. However, it is important to note the value of these drama from our own point of views and from the interference of some advertising companies. Drama can be bias with hidden messages that companies want us to perceive. Although the audience may be wise enough to identify the hidden messages, they may still learn from them without conscious awareness. To conclude, this presentation has taught us a lesson about the remarkable affect of drama to our lives. The vast mediums and genres of drama make them more easily accessible to everyone of us. It's interesting to learn about the evolution of drama and how they grew from only a small group of individuals to affect everyone at everywhere. It is our job as the viewers to learn the importance of these dramas and choose wisely between the worth and worthless. We should not be blind to dramas.




    - the wedding picture taken by Janice on May 18th, 2008
    - firefighter Daniel Pujdak's funeral picture
    - break-up picture from the movie "The Break-Up"
    - an example of unconventional theatre from the Dionysus '69
    - "Quest for Life"
    - an example of "fake" reality shows from "The Hills"
    - an example of "celebration" from Brooklyn Bridge, New York
    - an example of "tribal rituals" from Drum Trance 



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