Playback Theatre is a unique form of improvisational theatre founded in 1975 in New York by Jonathan Fox, Jo Salas and the original Playback Theatre company. There are now companies and practitioners all around the world.
Playback Theatre is an interactive collaboration between performers and audience.
Someone tells a story or relates a moment from their lives, chooses actors to play different roles, then watches as their story is immediately recreated and given artistic shape and meaning. Performances are facilitated by a ‘conductor’ who talks to the audience and shapes the story for the actors to ‘playback’. This stimulates a powerful conversation for those present. This can be moving and magical, comic and courageous and is always surprising.
Playback Theatre allows a high degree of sensitivity to the needs of any specific group. It is used in educational, therapeutic and social change settings, as well as artistic settings. It can be a performance, with a company of trained actors and a defined audience or a workshop in which participants may become actors as well as ‘tellers’ for each other.
During a performance or workshop personal stories are told within the context of the group present and is unique to the people who take part. Playback Theatre draws people together as they see their common humanity through the enacted stories.