Playback Theatre performances are a creative form of dialogue between the actors and audience members. The ‘conductor’ asks open questions that invite responses from audience members, and one person volunteers to speak. The actors then turn the response into an artistic enactment for everyone to watch. This generates another question which is followed by a response and an enactment and so on. In this way the actors facilitate a conversation amongst audience members, which can be open or around a specific theme.
Playback Theatre acknowledges how participants are feeling. When we, as human beings feel acknowledged, we feel more comfortable, potentially allowing our scepticism or resistance to thaw. In the course of a performance there is often a growing sense of intimacy and shared understanding between audience members. People often say that they feel less isolated and alone after a Playback Theatre performance.
Playback Theatre works because the enactment follows the audience member speaking and everyone watches it together. This shared experience of the enactment allows everyone to experience it at a feeling level together. This creates a level of understanding that would not happen in the same way without the actors mirroring. The enactments give everyone a chance to feel the truth of the story and to know how it impacts on them personally, and this in turn evokes a response from another audience member who becomes the next person to speak. It is in this way that a deep and intimate conversation can happen within an audience.