sydney school of playback trainer information

The Sydney School of Playback was established in 2000 to teach Playback performance skills.  These skills can be used in all walks of life, both personal and professional, and they’re a lot of fun to learn. Playback’s trainers are experienced in corporate, community, theatre and educational fields and all the skills taught enhance collaboration and communication.  Courses include active listening skills, ensemble teamwork, using story & storytelling, thinking on your feet, how to use metaphors and presentation skills.


All Sydney School of Playback trainers are performers and accredited trainers .  They have at least eight years’ experience with Playback and from 3-15 years experience delivering playback training.  For more about the trainers see below.


Experience the challenge and excitement of improvisation, ensemble work, effective body language, interpreting the power of personal story and much more in a Sydney School of Playback course.



More about the Trainers:


Johanna De Ruyter
Johanna has been working professionally within the performance arts realm for over 20 years. She began her performance training at Sydney’s Drama Action Centre which focused on developing theatre, and specifically improvisation skills, in addition to communications.This performance training piqued her interest in theatre and creativity and the ways in which it can be used to enhance learning and development on both a personal and professional level. She has been an active member of Playback Sydney for 20 years as an actor, conductor, trainer and previously in the role of Artistic Director.

Johanna has co-written and devised many theatre pieces for both schools and adult theatre performances over the past 15 years.

These performance projects have been a success at a variety of theatre venues throughout Sydney winning local awards as well as two international awards.

‘Best Ensemble’ Yakumo Japan ‘Best Show’ Liverpool Canada.


Johanna has been designing and running training in a variety of creative skills such as storytelling, listening skills, improvisation both with the general public and in organisations such as NAB. Johanna has been designing & delivering Playback training for over 10 years both in Sydney and interstate.

She also facilitates leadership programs with a leading American Executive Training Company.


Stephen Meagher 

Steve Meagher has been a working as a story teller for twenty years. After training at the Drama Action Centre in 1990, he worked extensively in physical theatre and storytelling in both the artistic and corporate domains. His last storytelling performance was the autobiographical tale “Doinky the Pig from Outer Space” at the Darlinghurst Theatre. He has been a member of Playback Theatre Sydney since 1994 and was co-director of Playback Theatre Sydney from 2005 to 2007 responsible for training and artistic direction. He also lectures in communication for the Medical Faculty of the University of Sydney and tortures his children with bad Irish jokes.



Michael Pooley
Michael has been a full time performer with Playback Theatre since 2002 and was co-Artistic Director of the company from 2011 – 2013. He trained with the Drama Action Centre in 1985 and has used improvisation in his work both as an Occupational Therapist working in Mental Health and as a trainer working in the Public Sector. His current day job is as a Learning professional with the College of Physicians. Michael has worked with School of Playback Theatre over many years delivering on each of the programs offered.


Thanassis Boulis
Thanassis has joined Playback Theatre Sydney since 2009 performing as an actor in a variety of shows, from Playback to devised shows to role-playing sessions.  He is fascinated with all forms of improvisation since 1998, when he first came in contact with theatrical improvisation as a student in UCLA. He has since trained at UCLA, Actors Centre Australia, ensembles at UNSW, and of course Playback Theatre Sydney. He has been an assistant trainer since 2012 and recently a trainer with PTS. Playback and long-form impro are his two big theatre loves and practices them at any chance he gets. Thanassis is also a computer engineer and entrepreneur, as well as a maths and science education enthusiast and overall geek.