Eulogies of Roger Altenberg
from his colleagues in Drama Therapy

We are here today to honor Roger Altenberg for his significant achievements to the field of drama therapy and psychodrama. He was one of the founding members of the National Association for Drama Therapy, which is the professional association that sets the industry standard and ethical framework for drama therapy. This organization also certifies registered drama therapists and board certified drama therapy trainers. The National Association for Drama Therapy was incorporated in 1979 and he and the other founders met prior to the incorporation in setting up the standards for the field. Roger Altenberg was considered a pioneer in the field of Drama Therapy. Through his efforts, California State University, Los Angeles became one of the first universities to offer classes in this area. When I arrived at California State University in 1974, I met Prof. Altenberg and became a part of the therapeutic drama program he had established. This program continued to grow and develop while he was a Professor there and continued after his retirement. He was highly respected by the students and other colleagues and he inspired many students to pursue the field of drama therapy. He continued to remain active in the National Association for Drama Therapy and to give of his time and expertise to this growing field. Roger Altenberg needs to be honored as making a major contribution to the field of drama therapy both nationally and internationally.

— Pam Dunne, November 10, 2005

Dear Lee,

I was saddened to hear of your father's passing. It was many years ago he, my former husband, Dr. Michael Gregoric, and I were in constant communication as NADT was envisioned and formed. Mike and I had developed a Master's program in Sociodrama at the University of CT-Storrs in the 1970's. I shall get word to him as well as Bob Fleshman, who resides in New Orleans, as I do. I know they would both want to know.

Your father was a wonderful collaborator, and an inspiration to the process. He was always available and open to new ideas and was able to participate in what was often a rather heated debate about what the organization should be. Mike and I enjoyed our conversations with him outside the meetings. He was a fine man.

Again, my condolences. I think we too often forget those who came before us, inspired us, and helped us find the way.  Your father deserves our recognition and our gratitude. His contributions will not be forgotten, especially by those of us who had the privilege of working with him.

In sympathy,

— Linda Gregoric Cook, RDT/BCT,
Past-President, National Association for Drama Therapy,
November 11, 2005

Roger Altenberg— was he the lean fellow at California State College in Los Angeles? If so, then he was the agent of one of my more formative experiences, right near the beginning: He organized a workshop by Jacob L. Moreno and Zerka Moreno back in 1966 there in Los Angeles, one that was very influential to me. (It was there that I made my sketch of Moreno gesturing.)

I've since gone on to write books on psychodrama translated into several languages, chapters in various textbooks, etc., and this in turn seems to have helped advance the use of psychodrama and by association, also drama therapy.

I want to credit Roger, with whom I was unable to maintain contact. Arranging for Moreno's visit was also an act of courage, because Moreno in the 1960s was in some circles a valued pioneer, but in other circles, considered a bit of a crank. For me, this experience was a major boost in my professional development, and it has expanded in my life to be a dimension of my everyday life-style.

— Adam Blatner, November 11, 2005

How sorry I am to hear about Roger's death. After all these years, no one I’ve spoken to has known of his whereabouts. I hope he lived his final years with the harmony he sustained in his life.

Roger, is one of the group of us regarded as the founders of the National Association for Drama Therapy in the USA. We served together for a number of years on the Board of Directors, with meetings in New York City pulling us from across the nation. My enduring memories of Roger are as a mediator, patient listener, and thoughful contributor. He had strong ideas, but presented them always in a way which allowed others to identify the ideas within themselves.

I don't ever remember seeing him ruffled. He avoided gossip, and sought resolution of other's arguments. And be assured our Board meetings were filled with temperament needing his temperance. A gentle man, a human being committed to creative approaches to other's healing. Yet he never seemed stern; his smile was warm and open to each of us.

Please send your memorial words to NADT for publication in Dramascope, our ever growing newspaper. Young therapists should know of him, his early role in the organization; and the elders should know too. It's an honor to be included in the remembrance, really the "celebration" of a man who influenced all of us to dare be visionaries, maintaining our integrity as he modeled its meaning.  I commiserate with you and others of your clan for the grief of his loss.

— Dr. Rosilyn Wilder, November 13, 2005

Roger was my teacher and mentor when I went into the drama therapy program at CSULA. At that point it was a matter of gathering a board from Psychology and Theatre Arts faculties and putting together a program that would cover the essential topics in drama therapy as well as shore up our weaknesses as needed. I loved that process of design!! I never knew what happened to Roger after he left Cal State L.A. and was very sorry to lose touch with him. My life was definitely enriched by his influence.

I’ll never forget the first time I called him and said I was interested in talking about Drama Therapy. He invited me to come to the campus and have a cup of coffee. I was not accustomed to universities having the feeling of openness and accessibility that our conversation offered. I graduated in 1983 and have gone on to a career that has given me the best possible interactions with so many people, both in the U.S. and abroad.

— Bobbi Kidder, M.A., R.D.T., B.C.T., November 13, 2005

Roger was indeed an important and wonderful contributor to our beginnings. He was a mature, relaxed, knowledgable, and gentle person whose sense of humor helped myself and most others overcome our periodic moments of anxiety and imbalance during those days. He was a steady, friendly presence, tolerant of our soapboxes and speeches, supportive of our visions. His humility and good will will always be remembered.

— David Read Johnson, Sunday, November 20, 2005