A J.L. Moreno Chronology, by Eberhard Scheiffele


From Vienna to New York – The history and philosophy of
Jacob Moreno’s Theatre of Spontaneity and Psychodrama:


355 B.C. Aristotle writes Poetics with his comments on catharsis.

1777 Goethe publishes Singspiel Lila, a play about curing psychosis with dramatic methods.

1889 Birth of Jacob Levy Moreno in Bucharest, Romania, also birth of Martin Heidegger, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Adolf     Hitler.

1894 Plays God and his angels with children of the neighbourhood. Tries to fly, falls, and breaks his arm.

1896 Family moves to Vienna.

1908-11 Conducts creative drama with children in parks in Vienna, esp. Augarten.

1909 Enters University of Vienna, first as a student of philosophy, then of medicine.

1912 Organizes self-help groups with prostitutes in Vienna. Meeting with Freud. House of Encounter.

1913-17 Private tutor for Elisabeth Bergner. Ignites her interest in theatre and directs her and other children in plays.

1914 Publishes Einladung zu einer Begegnung (Invitation to an Encounter), which has influenced Martin Buber’s Ich und   Du (I and Thou) [1923].

1915-17 Refugee camp in Mitterndorf, first experiments with sociometry.

1917 Receives M.D. degree, February 5.

1918-20 Publishes Daimon, later Der Neue Daimon und Die Gefährten, the leading expressionist, existentialist literary   journal with articles by Moreno, Max Brod, Franz Werfel, Paul Kornfeld, Martin Buber, Georg Kaiser, Oskar Kokoschka, Paul Claudel, Iwan Goll and many others.

Takes part in Viennese Café culture of artists, intellectuals, writers.

1919-1925 Lived and worked as village doctor in Bad Vöslau, remains active in Vienna.

1921 First public performance at Komödienhaus in Vienna, April 1. Ridiculed by audience and critics.

1922-24 Directs Stegreiftheater (Theatre of Spontaneity), Maysedergasse 2 in Vienna, where he discovers the healing power of dramatic enactment. Among his actors are Peter Lorre, Anna Höllering and occasionally Elisabeth Bergner. The weekly performances become popular and are often sold out.

1924 Publishes Das Stegreiftheater (The Theatre of Spontaneity).
Presents design for Theater ohne Zuschauer (theatre without an audience, later called open stage) at Internationale Ausstellung neuer Theatertechnik in Vienna. Controversy with Friedrich Kiesler over plagiarism.

1925 Emigrates to the United States.

1929-31 Directs Impromptu Theatre, Carnegie Hall, New York.

1930 Experiments with spontaneity exercises at New York Civic Repertory Theatre under Eva Le Gallienne, where he works with actors such as John Garfield, Burgess Meredith, and Howard da Silva, who later become associated with the Group Theatre.

1931 Performs Living Newspaper at Guild Theatre on Broadway (a space also used by the Group Theatre).
Publishes Impromptu, a journal devoted to the use of improvisation in theatre and education, with articles by Moreno, A. B. W. Smith, J.J. Robbins, Theodore Appia, Helen Jennings, Hans Kafka, Robert Müller and others.

1932-34 Directs spontaneity training sessions at the New York State Training School for Girls, Hudson, N.Y., which are recorded in motion pictures.

1935 Creates Therapeutic Motion Pictures company to distribute films he made at Hudson and later at Beacon.

1936 Starts Beacon Hill Sanitarium, Beacon, NY with attached psychodrama theatre sponsored by Gertrude Franchot Tone.

1937 Directs Franchot Tone and his wife Joan Crawford exploring marital problems on the psychodrama stage in Beacon; meets Elia Kazan and Stella and Luther Adler.

1941 Inaugurates psychodrama theatre at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Washington, DC.
Incorporates Beacon Publishing House.

1942 Opens New York Theatre of Psychodrama at 101 Park Avenue, renamed Moreno Institute in 1952. Moreno’s open sessions continue on weekend nights until the early 1970s and are frequently attended by theatre artists (e.g. Eric Bentley, Dustin Hoffman).

1946 Publishes Psychodrama, Volume I.

1947 Translates and revises The Theatre of Spontaneity.

1949 Dedicates Theatre of Psychodrama, Harvard University.
Conducts psychodrama at Mansfield Theatre (Broadway), New York City.
Marries Celine Zerka Toeman, who becomes his partner in life and work; she is still active today teaching and writing about psychodrama.

1951-66 Adjunct professor of sociology, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, New York University.

1959 Publishes Psychodrama, Volume 2 (in collaboration with Zerka T. Moreno).

1964 At the Camarillo State Hospital Moreno is televised weekly on closed circuit TV while conducting psychodrama sessions. The entire patient population is watching from their screens.

1969 Publishes Psychodrama, Volume 3 (in collaboration with Zerka T. Moreno).
Awarded Golden Doctorate, Vienna University. Visits Bad Vöslau.

1974 Dies at home, Beacon, New York, May the 14th.

1993 Austrian Literary Society transfers Moreno’s Ashes to Honorary Grave at Zentralfriedhof, Vienna.

© Dr. Eberhard Scheiffele

Dr. Eberhard Scheiffele, PhD, TEP, RDT, is a theatre artist, psychotherapist, scholar, and award-winning psychodramatist. For 2005-06 he was awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholar grant for teaching in the Psychology Department at Gumanitarni University in Ekaterinburg, Russia. His doctoral dissertation “The Theatre of Truth”, written at the University of California, Berkeley, focused on Jacob Moreno’s theatre of spontaneity and psychodrama.

He is certified as Trainer, Educator, Practitioner (TEP) by the American Board of Examiners in Psychodrama, Sociometry, and Group Psychotherapy, and he is a Registered Drama Therapist (RDT). In 2005 he received the Innovator’s Award from the American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama (ASGPP), and in 2006 he was award the status of Fellow. While his first love remains acting, his experience also includes working in private practice and for agencies as a psychotherapist for children, adolescents, and adults. He has over 15 years of teaching experience in mathematics, philosophy, theatre arts, and psychology.

His research and experiential trainings have been presented at universities and regional, national, and international conferences in theatre and psychotherapy all over the United States, Canada, Germany, Norway, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Romania, Austria, Senegal (West Africa), and many parts of Russia. He is the artistic director of the Center for Psychodrama, Creativity, and International Encounter of the Volkshochschule Wangen im Allgäu, Germany. His approach is sought out because of his warmth, passion, and humour. His publications have appeared in many academic, peer-reviewed journals in the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Ukraine, and Russia. He is on the editorial board of Psychodrama and Modern Psychotherapy, the leading Russian language journal.

FEPTO Conference

17th FEPTO Conference:
From External Violence to Internal Shadow: When Psychodrama Helps To
Confront Reality

5th to 7th of May, 2023
Liege, Belgium

» Invitation

» Provisionally program

» Call for workshop facilitators

» Online registration


Annual Meeting

29th FEPTO AM:
Spontaneity and Creativity in the Transforming World
30 years of FEPTO and beyond

7th to 11th of May, 2023
Liege, Belgium

» Invitation

» Provisionally program

» Online registration



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