how it works.

Playback Theatre’s simple structure and interactive method works on many levels.  Similar to aural storytelling, Playback Theatre creates a platform for listening, learning and connecting in any group context or culture.  It opens a space where people’s voices can be heard and the performers literally bring the story to life.  In doing so the story’s presence expands and takes on more resonance whilst entertaining the audience.


The performance begins with the audience seated and all performers on stage – four actors, a musician and facilitator.  The facilitator (known as the Playback Conductor) engages the audience, introduces the theme and reflects on how the topic might impact or be interpreted by the audience.  The Conductor encourages feedback – ideas, comments, experiences, stories – and the performers listen very closely.  Having heard an experience or story the Conductor pronounces ‘Let’s Watch’ and the performance begins – immediately!


The skilled improvisers and musician create instant theatre on stage, enacting the story, adding layers and textures and improvising to add humour, poignancy, and universality to honour the teller’s story.  This instant theatre, speech, movement, tension or comedy engages, impresses and often moves an audience.   The group may laugh in recognition of similar situations they have experienced and they become deeply involved in the action, as Playback seeks to reflect back to them the authenticity of their experience.   Half the fun is in watching the ensemble create a performance out of thin air.  What begins as one person’s story becomes a tale or journey for the whole group.


Playback Theatre is a refreshing experience with entertainment and discovery rolled into one. It is very powerful and skillful and almost always humorous. Since it is a reflection of the audience’s circumstances , it is relevant, insightful and engaging.  Playback Theatre Sydney is adaptable to all groups on almost any topic or program.  As long as people in the audience have experiences to relate, Playback has a place to operate.  And the Conductor ensures people are warmed up so those who want to can contribute.   And those who’d rather not tell a story can sit back and enjoy hearing and seeing other’s experiences and stories performed skilfully on stage.


Get a taste of how Playback works through our ‘teaser’ or ‘full’ videos, and find out more through our ‘how it works’ video.

Want to audition for Playback Theatre Sydney? Click here for further details.