Playback is an original form of improvisational theatre. The performance is spontaneous - it is theatre created through a unique collaboration between performers and audience. Someone tells a story or moment from their life, chooses actors to play the different roles, then watches as their story is immediately recreated and given artistic shape. Many artistic variations are possible within the clear structure and rhythm of a performance.
Authenticity in the spontaneous moment underlies Playback Theatre practice. Playback Theatre aims to create a safe container where every voice and any story - however ordinary, extraordinary, hidden or difficult - may be heard and told. It is a place where each person's uniqueness is honored while at the same time building and strengthening our connections to each other as a community.
How Does it Work?
In a Playback performance, a "Teller" is invited from the audience to share a feeling or a story; the Teller then chooses actors to play roles in the story, which is then "played back" improvisationally, incorporating music, movement, and spoken improvisation. In every performance there is a master facilitator called the "Conductor" who acts as the conduit for stories and the liaison between the audience, the actors and the action. Improvisational music is used to establish mood, augment a scene, and support the characters portrayed. Crates or boxes are used for simple sets and/or props, and colored cloths help suggest character and spirit. These elements combine to create a container for the truths of our lives to be dramatically presented for us to see, explore and understand.
Why does it work?
Playback Theatre has a universality and accessibility that has helped it spread to over 50 countries around the world. It is simple on the one hand, and rich with metaphor and meaning on the other. It taps into a deep need for people to been seen, validated, and part of a community. And it carries with it the power of storytelling to heal and transform.
When individuals share their thoughts, feelings and stories, and see them spontaneously enacted, a common language is created to explore the essence and meaning inherent in all communication, leading to understanding, compassion, and alignment.
Playback Theatre gives attention to the social interactive elements of a whole community or organization, enabling an enriching experience for actors and audience alike. It gives the storyteller and the group a chance to gain insights from seeing the story from a new perspective. In both performances and workshops, Playback Theatre helps people and groups to access intuition and wisdom through action, in the body. It is an experiential method that complements data driven, analytical approaches.
For more information, please visit www.playbackcenter.org