Playback Theatre

Playback Theatre is a unique experience, both for the audience and the performers. There’s no script, no set, no costumes. The scenes come from stories told by the audience. The founder of Playback Theatre, Jonathan Fox, says those stories can be about anything — no drama is required. The actors listen intently, and then perform the story with improvised movement, words and music. The performance makes the story part of a universal, shared experience.


The key to Playback’s effectiveness seems to be a determined listening. So much of our lives is taken up with distracted interactions. We talk to friends and family while we peek at our phones, checking emails and texts. We have conversations in front of the television. It’s rare that someone really listens to something we have to say. When the audience realizes that their stories will be heard, they begin to trust the actors, and the sharing can turn intensely personal.


In 35 years, Playback Theatre has grown from the original group of actors to hundreds of troupes in dozens of countries.

Click here to find out whether there’s a Playback Theatre group near you.

The troupe featured in our program is Playback Memphis. Click here for more information about that group.