Playback Theatre

Playback Theatre

What is Playback Theatre?

Jo Salas Jonathan FoxCreated by Jonathan Fox and Jo Salas (pictured right), Playback Theatre is a form of Applied Theatre. Improvisational in its approach, audience or group members share moments from their lives and watch them enacted on the spot by trained actors using music, movement and dialogue that embodies the heart of the story.  Over the course of a performance after many voices have been heard, it clearly demonstrates (and reminds us!) of our common humanity.

Playback Theatre stimulates dialogue through personal story sharing to reveal different perspectives. It promotes deep listening and welcomes any voice to be heard. It is an effective tool used throughout the world to foster connection and build understanding across differences.

Versatile in its approach Playback can be used with any population. Settings can range from schools and universities, organizations and community groups, or with specific groups like hospice care workers, refugees and immigrants, or formerly incarcerated people, among others.

There are over 100 Playback Theatre companies in North America and practitioners worldwide in over 50 countries.  Mandala Center’s own Poetic Justice Theatre Ensemble is unique in its dual use of Playback Theatre and Theatre of the Oppressed.

The best way to know Playback Theatre is to experience it! Check Mandala Center Events for upcoming opportunities to attend a performance or take a workshop. Playback North America and the Playback Centre are hubs for education, networking, and training to learn more about this powerful form of social healing theatre.


This video features Playback practitioners from the U.S. and Canada (including Mandala Co-Directors Marc and Zhaleh) speaking about the applications of Playback Theatre and the importance of being in a network with other practitioners.