WHAT IS PLAYBACK THEATRE ? Playback is improvisational theater which honors personal story. Playback was created by Jonathan Fox in 1975, and there are now Playback companies around the world. In addition to being performed as artistic theater, Playback is used in educational, community and clinical settings.
HOW IS PLAYBACK PERFORMED ? The actors listen to the teller’s tale, and then “play back” what they hear as the essence of the story. Their enactment may be realistic or symbolic. A conductor helps to structure the story for the actors by asking questions of the teller. Often, a musician will accompany the performance. The actors may use drama, mime, dance , movement, sound or puppetry in their enactments. A performance will include various Playback forms. Perhaps a moment in the teller’s day will be played back as a brief Fluid Sculpture. A more literal and lengthy story may be appropriate at times. The actors use fabric to create costumes, sets and symbolism.
WHY DO PLAYBACK IN A HOSPITAL ? Many of our patients at Shands are here for long periods of time. Some come alone from far away. All have left their homes, their roles and their usual support systems. All they bring with them is their personal story. The family members have their own stories. They are trying to be available to the patient while simultaneously tending to the homefront. Hospital staff are tending to the needs of all their patients...a story in itself! Playback Theatre honors all these stories of courage. We also celebrate the tales of joy and magic that occur everyday in a hospital.
HOW IS PLAYBACK PERFORMED AT SHANDS ? The Shands Hospital Playback Troupe is comprised of artists from the Arts in Medicine Program who have volunteered for this project. Playback is performed within the hospital in two ways: Room to Room Playback and Charlie’s Corner Performances. Room to Room Playback: One to four AIM Playback Troupe members stroll around a unit looking for rooms where a patient seems interested in what’s happening out in the hall. (This often indicates that the patient is interested in having some company. ) We go into the room and introduce ourselves. If the patient does not appear interested in conversing, we wish him or her a pleaasant day and move on. (If it seems appropriate, we may tell the patient about the services that AIM provides, and offer to leave some art or journaling supplies.) If the patient seems to be enjoying the company, we present a private performance. These are brief (10 -15 minutes) and often include a Fluid Sculpture, Pairs and a Story Tableau. Our enactments are in response to whatever the patient wants to talk about. Some patients enjoy being asked questions about themselves. Their responses create the plot for the enactments. Performances: The troupe offers occasional performances in Charlie’s Corner. This in an attractive and cozy family lounge where A.I.M. offers weekly events for patients, caregivers and visitors.
HOW IS THE A.I.M. PLAYBACK TROUPE STRUCTURED ? All of the artists in residence were introduced to Playback in a full day workshop. Those who felt drawn to the work committed to rehearse for five 2 hour rehearsals on a weekly basis. The entire troupe, of approximately 10 artists, continues to meet on a monthly basis for a two hour rehearsal. In addition, A subgroup of the troupe offers weekly Room to Room Playback.
HOW CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT PLAYBACK ? For information about the Shands Hospital Playback Troupe: Paula Patterson at 1725 Woodmere Drive, Jacksonville, Florida, 32210. (904) 387-5276
For information on Playback training: Jonathan Fox SCHOOL OF PLAYBACK THEATRE 137 Hasbrouck Road, New Paltz Ny 12561 Phone & Fax: 914-255-8163
International Playback Theatre Network: IPTN, PO Box 1173, New Paltz, NY 12561 Membership in IPTN includes a subscription to the network journal and updates on Playback happenings around the world.