Playing it back together again!

‘Padma, I think you have been away from Play back way too long. When we have tea break you must share this story then..’

When my theater teacher chuckled and remarked this it then dawned upon me. I really had been away for sometime now..

Yesterday we had a play back meet which comprised the present and past playbackers. A mix of Chorus and Playback Shots were the highlights of the evening. With an initial round of introduction we leaped into the chorus exercises.

We first began with a couple of rhythm singing exercises to warm us up. In a team of 6-7 any one person could start voicing any rhythm – la, la, la or aaaa aaa aaa.. The others must follow and join in. After a short while another team person can randomly tune in a slightly different tune ensuring it is neither too high or too low to avoid the sounds to appear jarring.

With a couple of rounds of the warm up exercises we readied ourselves for the chorus performances. A person from the audience would share his experience. S/he could position the 5 performing artists into different image like positions taking cues from his/her story shared.

Like a very powerful experience was shared of a moment in the person’s life. He accidently injured his leg while playing football resulting in a ligament tear. Adding to his woes he was medically written off that he could never play football again ! This was one moment that tore him apart and sob !  But then just last week he played football again!

After sharing his experience the teller positioned the artists into image forms. Like the first person took the position of driving a car. The second person was driving and honking with his other hand. These images were tidbits of the compelling moment in the teller’s life.

When the performance started any one artist could start a particular motion with or without a sound. The others would follow him/her. A random second leader would engage in another motion. The idea is to visually create the flow of the moment for the teller with spontaneity and finesse. While performing we were learning to listen to one another and work as a team with no prior preparation!

Playback shots was another power packed theater tool which brought out the best in each of us. Our teacher kept a chair in the center stage. Our job was to give a shot performance individually using the chair as a metaphor. What a strew of performances followed!

The chair once became a dance instructor for a playbacker, or a child for a performer who was a mother. For one person it symbolized power and authority which can trap and blind fold people while for another it was a painful memory which she wanted to let go. For my teacher it was the Play back performance, his efforts in moulding play backers and presenting them to a live audience. And for me it was a symbol of the failures encountered by inventors before their eureka moment.


Rewinding to what my teacher remarked. I was indeed away from playback theater for sometime. So away that I forgot the kind of stories one would share for the play back performances!

After the session when I was heading back home I wondered upon my own life stories. Of my half parenting experiences with my nieces/nephews and life lessons that I have learned from them… How at one point my father went through a life threatening experience which made me helpless and lost! … Guess I will have more substance to share … Until next session!



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