Orla is the silent prince. Born deaf, his parents can not understand why he does not respond to his own name and ask “What are we doing wrong?” When they find out he is deaf they search for a cure. Orla is poked and prodded and shouted at; He is frustrated but he is still deaf. His parents despair “He is such an angry child; he should at least be trying.”
The moonbird comes to try to teach the parents how to communicate and relate to their son
This child can listen but not to earth sounds with his ears. He can hear different things in a different way.”Moonbird
His parents try but it is hard
Parents: “We don’t know how to talk to him. We don’t know what he is saying”
Moonbird: “But listening is not just what you hear. Use your heart. Use your selves.Moonbird
The frustration of the king, queen and Orla are shared with many families where someone has a hearing impairments; similar frustrations are experienced by some families where the child is autistic or has other sensory impairments or learning needs. How can we communicate with someone who does not hear or does not respond in the way we expect?
But communication is more than just the words said. Eye contact is communication, holding hands is communication, a smile is communication.
Sometimes dramatherapists work with non-verbal clients who may not use words as the main way to communicate
Dramatherapy can help us express those experiences that are difficult to express because it includes verbal and non-verbal methods. Dramatherapy also incorporates social and dramatic play which is essential for healthy child development.’Jennings, S. (2012). 11. Theatre of Resilience: Ritual and Attachment with Marginalised Groups – We Are All Born Dramatised and Ritualised. In C. Schrader (Ed.), Ritual Theatre: The Power of Dramatic Ritual in Personal Development Groups and Clinical Practice (pp. 200-216). London and Philiadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publisher. Page 201-202
When working non-verbally it is important to have a non-judgemental approach and an open mind; to respond creatively and playfully.
‘Whatever way we choose to express ourselves through moving the body, the movements belong intrinsically and uniquely to us. We are not judged on the skill or performance. There is no right or wrong way. Created self-expression comes with body feelings first.’Cooper, D. (1996). Beginning with the body. In J. Pearson (Ed.), Discovering the self through drama and movement: the Sesame approach (pp. 17-26). London: Jessica Kingsley. Page 23.
Prince Orla can communicate, he just needs to learn a different way – the Moonbird and her friends take Orla on a sensory exploration and teach him some sign language (BSL in this production). Using this skill Orla can now be understood and begin to connect with those around him.
Frustration is a barrier to all communication – it shuts down and restricts, adding pressure which stops us from being able to pay attention to what is being communicated. We all know how to communicate non-verbally; we learnt it in those first days of life before we had any words. If we find ourselves frustrated like the king and queen, rather than needing other people to come to us and communicate in a way that we understand, how can we go to them? Sometimes the key to communication is to be along side others in what they are doing and get in touch with our earliest forms of communication – hand contact, a smile, eye contact maybe even playfully blowing bubbles.