What is the Playback Ψ team?

Playback Ψ was created in 2004 as part of the Association of Dramatic Expression and Therapy "Palmos", with the purpose of educating actors in Playback Theater, a form of interactive theatre that strengthens community bonds. In playback performances, audience members share stories from their lives, and the actors, as well as the other artists (musicians, visual artists, light designers), portray them on stage through instant theatrical improvisation. The show is coordinated by a conductor (usually the group’s leader) who mediates between the tellers and the actors, proposing expressive ways of representing the stories. The whole process requires appropriate training, which lasts about 6 months and includes specific methods of theatrical improvisation, story-telling, narrative techniques and study of group dynamics.

Which are the people who consist the Playback Ψ team?

Team leader is Lambros Yotis, psychiatrist and drama therapist (PH.D.), trained in Playback Theatre with in Jonathan Fox and Jo Salas (Center for Playback Theater, N.Y.,) founders of the genre. His collaborators, who formed the first group in 2004 and still take part both as actors and trainers are: Dimitris Begioglou (clinical psychologist/actor), Christina Fragiadaki (dramatherapist /actor) and the actors and drama teachers Christos Theocharopoulos, Vera Lardi and Margarita Kastrinou. The group also consists of new members: Maria Maragopoulou (psychotherapist), Katerina Webster (drama teacher/ actor), Thaleia Portokaloglou (psychologist and dramatherapist), Artemis Chatjiargyriou (psychologist), Christos Kanavis (musician), Alexandros Misirliadis (musician) and Nikos Theoharopoulos (illuminator).

 Is the team’s script specific?

The scenario of each performance is not pre-constructed. It is "woven" by the audience in each performance and is different in each show, depending on what the audience wants to share with the help of the conductor. The thematic material of this performance may be anything: from initially simple words or phrases, everyday incidents, events from the latest news, to larger stories, comic or dramatic, or even dreams, wishes or songs that audience members decide to share. The conductor transfers this material to the actors and proposes an adequate form of theatre improvisation for the representation of each story. So every performance is different and this is an element that always makes it interesting and up to date.

What is the role of audience in the performance?

In each Playback performance, both actors and audience-members enter a process of exposing inner truths or their perceptions of reality and share it with other people. It is, therefore, an individual and a collective experience at the same time. Some audience-members also become tellers during the show, essentially co-creators. But even if some of them do not want to tell any story, they play an important role as active witnesses, who take on the confessions of those who come into the process of a personal narrative. When one goes into the process of telling a story, he begins a journey both in time and in his/her Self, a journey with an unpredictable end. It connects the performance’s “here and now” with the past and the possible manifestations of the future. The journey starts from the moment story-telling begins and ends with its presentation on stage by the playback group.

What can the viewer get through this?

Any teller exposes and rejuvenates his or her story bringing to life feelings and thoughts he or she has connected with it. At the same time, however, observing the representation of their story, tellers unlock closed doors. The images on stage and their associations often go through the barriers towards the unconscious. In a similar way, those images as well as the sharing after each story, can work for those who remain listeners, offering them a vivid theatrical experience. Besides, the artists of the group participating in the performance travel on the same wagon as the spectators. As they revive a story - with movements, words, light or color - they also make a journey between their “Self” and the “Other”; a journey equally unpredictable and revealing. At the same time, as far as the artistic aspect is concerned, they are constantly using their creative aura and their techniques, as the challenge of instant improvisation requires spiritual, mental and physical readiness and constant awakening of inspiration. Still, a playback performance clearly has a social and political dimension. It gives space to stories of people under oppression and voice to stories that cannot be heard easily (stories of people in social minorities, people with disabilities or diversity).

Where do these performances take place?

The “Playback Ψ” theatre group is open to anyone who wants to share stories from their lives. For this reason, performances have taken place in theatres all over Greece and abroad; in educational programs for adults and children; in psychiatric hospitals; in rehabilitation centers; in prisons; in scientific events; conferences and festivals. Moreover, the team's training venue, "Palmos", hosts, in addition to professional actors, anyone who is genuinely interested in learning this genre and using it in theatre, psychotherapy, education or social sensitization. The training programs end up each year with a series of performances at "Palmos", the studio of the group (3 Kleisthenous st., Kotzia Square, Athens). More information at www.therapy-playback.gr, palmos6@wordpress.com.

Does the result of the Playback Ψ team really relate to performance or psychotherapy?

Playback is a special kind of theatre that gives voice to any individual on the sidelines, oppressed or labeled as “different”, and at the same time to any voice considered as “improper” or “unusual” in each one of us; it allows those voices that choke through the everyday "must" to be heard. It proposes a way of coexistence through mutual respect and truth. Each person's story is celebrated through its stage representation and becomes the story of all of us. This does not mean that someone is in psychotherapy just by participating in a performance. However, playback performances have a “curative” value. In both considerations of the term “cure”: liberation and acceptance.

Author

Psychiatrist, Dramatherapist, Actor, Director