Wait a fucking second. Did you say theatre exercises?
There's a group of people doing them theatre exercises, they rent a hall down the corridor from me periodically. I've always known there was something really fishy about them. Are you saying they might be scientologists? Becuase that would really fit to the group's MO.
I guess we've reached the nesting limit. The people in question are trying to hang sociology and group theory onto those theatre exercises. The "tutors" are, well, let's just say really odd. How can I find out more about those original theatre exercises?
I'm thinking of something like http://www.amazon.com/112-Acting-Games-Comprehensive-Develop... It's not perfect coverage (I mostly encountered the exercises I recognized first-hand from teachers who had learned them from other teachers), but I think that book does describe some of the overlap. You could also look at the work of Keith Johnstone, especially his chapter in Impro on Mask and Trance.
For Scientology, http://www.xenu.net
I was being flip before: there are real differences, primarily in the role of teachers (in theater they should never hold real power over you) and suppression vs. expression of emotion (theater exercises are often about how to feel more, whereas scientology is about brainwashing into feeling less). However, self-hypnosis, presences and detailed mental examinations are shared by both.