An NADTA interview with Karimah Dillard, MA, RDT
NADTA: Please tell us about your path to drama therapy.
Karimah: I took a somewhat circuitous path to drama therapy, and it continues on – straight in some places, narrow in others – though it continues to wind. I follow faithfully because it is a point of connection to people, places and experiences I have only ever dreamed of.
After graduating from college, I went to work at a non-profit developing volunteer projects for community organizations. My program manager knew how much I loved theatre and sent me to a workshop facilitated by Randy Taylor, the only registered drama therapist in the state of Georgia at the time (I believe I now own that title). Randy told me about his work at a local hospital and it reminded me of how much I loved the theatre games we used to play when I was in high school. I would actually feel a bit disappointed when we went from pre-production to production because it was the theatre games that introduced ourselves to ourselves and connected us to each other. I even remember saying out loud one day, “If I could do this for the rest of my life I would be happy”. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that there was a place for me to do just that. For the next three years I called the drama therapy department at NYU, as much to prove the validity of its existence as to ask for an application. For three years I watched the blank applications pile up along with every other job I had from box office manager to teaching artist; from my mother’s home in Atlanta, to the Cultural Arts Center in Minneapolis. In 2002, I turned a corner on my journey and started the program in drama therapy at NYU.
NADTA: Please tell us about your current work and projects.
Karimah: I am humbled by the resiliency of the human spirit and how dynamic and dramatic that can be. Some of the most important work I do now involves trauma. I am present with my patients or workshop participants as they explore some of the darkest caverns of their lives and am humbled by their trust in me to take them through a dramatic experience where we sometimes play with the unplayable.
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