Let us Play It Back again!

What a way the republic day began for me ! I took part in the Advanced Play back theater workshop conducted by Karim for 25 playbackers. Karim is a veteran in Playback performances from Zurich, Germany. She runs her own Playback theater company and has about 25 years of experience ! Playback theater is a form of theater art where the actors perform on the spot drawing their script from the audience’s responses and with no other prior practice.

The workshop began with us introducing our names by throwing balls at each other. The person who receives the ball says his/her name and passes the ball to another person. Then we followed it up with walking randomly across the room and smiling at the person whom we bumped into. Smiles progressed into saying just a hello and then giving each other a light hip to hip hit sideways! These exercises helped us get comfortable with one another in the group.

Next exercise was pairing up with another person who was of our same size! Am still not sure whether it meant to be length wise or width wise. I got paired up with my theater teacher who was also taking part in the workshop! I still wonder whether we share the same width size or length size 🙂 The activity was to do random actions one at a time and we were free to give space or interrupt our teammate’s action with a music being played in the background.

We were paired again by finding a partner who wore a similar dress colour. The activity was that one person in the pair sings a chorus and the other randomly dances to it. All this without prior discussion or preparation with only a background score being played. These exercises were fun and made us work spontaneously with one another !

Now came the fluids. Grouping in teams of five we performed fluids. We were randomly taking terms to announce a theme such as traffic signal or circus. The other remaining actors would put up a photographic presentation based on the theme. So there was spontaneity and a supplementary finish to one others poses. We had limited space but the presentations had unlimited imaginations!

We took a 9 minutes break to assemble and perform some fluids for the entire team. We had a couple of rounds of fluids followed by conflicts. (Conflicts representing a two way dichotomy a person experiences such as whether to choose option A or B for a particular situation). For instance, a lady from the group shared her conflicting situation she faced in the morning before leaving for the workshop. Her one year old son was unexpectedly crying while she was leaving home! She was confused whether to attend the workshop or her little one!

Finally we reached the highlight of the workshop to perform ‘Encounters’. Encounter is a improvised form of Story where the story teller does not choose which actors should play what characters. The actors choose roles spontaneously! Two very beautiful stories were shared. One person from the group shared her experience of overcoming a stammering problem while another share her experience of getting a trial ring stuck on her finger in a shop which was too expensive for her to pay! Very powerful performances followed on these stories. Especially the struggle between the stage and the stammering problem depicted by 2 actors. We also had the struggle between the ring and the finger played by again by 2 other actors leaving us in spits! Objects and emotions do become characters and add a lot of relevance and substance to the enactment of the story shared.

We wound up by sharing our experiences from performing in small groups of six. We had taken turns to play the storyteller, conductor and also perform the fluids. When each shared their learning experience the others who shared a similar feeling stepped a step forward to form a inner circle with the person sharing their learning. Our last act of the day was to express a emotion of what we felt of the whole workshop. It could be a simple smile or a loud hooray! And then our team mates would repeat the same action together! As I got drowned in this energy pool of play backers (which was my emotional response to the workshop) I am looking forward to more such sessions and participate actively in future play back performance for other audience!



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