What happens in a typical playback performance

Getting everyone involved

A typical show will open with a warm up in the form of a gentle invitation to the participants to share brief moments and experiences in order to get to know each other. This helps them to make deeper connections with each other and begin to explore similarities and differences in their experiences. Depending on the event and atmosphere, the facilitator may invite participants to move around or they can remain seated. The theme will depend on the event but whatever the topic, we take care to use structured techniques which provide safe boundaries and which provide a basis for the next stage of storytelling.

The heart of the event

This is the Playback Theatre performance in which our skilled and experienced team of actors improvise the moments, feelings and stories offered by the audience. Participants are  invited to share their stories which are then played back by the actors. Using music, cloth and a range of improvisational techniques and theatre forms the actors playback – enact – the stories in a way which is sensitive to the heart of the tellers story.  Individuals and audiences are delighted and often moved as they see the recreation of their own and other’s stories as theatre.  Towards the end of the performance we may begin to see a surprising ‘red thread’ emerge – common themes or issues may emerge from a variety of seemingly disparate stories. When this is highlighted it enables participants to explore fresh and maybe unexpected connections or differences between them.

Follow up workshops

‘Red thread’ workshops – follow a performance with workshops in which participants have an opportunity to explore emerging themes in more depth. We can provide experienced group work facilitators for this if necessary. Themes which have emerged from previous events include: strengthening teams, working more effectively with differences and conflict, better listening and communication skills, increasing spontaneity and creativity. Learn playback skills – workshops in which participants can learn some playback theatre skills are very popular. They provide an exciting opportunity for people to develop confidence in their creativity and strengthen their team building and communication skills while having some fun.


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