Playback Theatre

The photos above represent a live performance as part of a Playback Theatre course at Kansas State University (KSU). The course was taught under the instruction of Randy Mulder, RDT/BCT. The photos were taken by Fatmah Al-Qadfan, the Marketing Director for the School for Music, Theatre, and Dance at KSU.

What is Playback Theatre

Playback Theatre is an original form of improvisational theatre created by Jonathan Fox in which audience members tell stories from their lives and watch them enacted on the spot. It enforces how the message of the Storyteller (“Teller”) deserves to be shared with the public and worthy of being told. Playback Theatre does not focus on specific moral issues, but rather emphasizes spontaneity, creativity, compassion, and the importance of the Teller’s message. Some stories are often lighthearted and humorous, while others are moving, inspirational, and powerful. Playback Theatre gives anyone an opportunity to share their past, present and/or future stories, often providing healing and future hope. Playback Theatre is performed in prisons, mental health institutions, nursing homes, schools and many other locations. To learn more about the specific techniques and practice of Playback Theatre, see the links and educational video below.

Forms of Playback Theatre

  • Narrative Short Form
  • Non-Narrative Short Form
  • Narrative Long Form

Techniques of Playback Theatre

  • Fluid Sculpture
  • Pairs
  • Tableau
  • Three-Sentence Story
  • Three-Part Story
  • Narrative V
  • Chorus
  • Playback Puppets
  • Scene

Additional Links

Introduction Reading

  • Improvising Real Life by Jo Salas