What is Playback?

Playback Theatre is a non-scripted, interactive theatre form in which audience members share true stories or experiences from their lives and see them “played back” by an ensemble of trained actors in ways that encourage insight across chasms of difference. 

Like a cross between a town hall meeting and an improvisational performance, one actor from the ensemble (“the conductor”) engages the audience in a collective conversation, asking questions that address the specific concerns of those gathered. The audience’s responses are played back on the spot in non-confrontational ways that build bridges, strengthen social bonds, and lift civic spirit. 

CU's Playback Ensemble

CU’s Playback Ensemble, made up of faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students from several departments, performs for a wide array of campus and community events. The Ensemble also runs the Critical Conversations Project, which uses Playback Theatre to facilitate conversations in areas of rural Colorado that are experiencing rapid and destabilizing social, economic, or environmental change. 

Throughout 2022-23, the troupe is proud to partner with the Renee Crown Wellness Institute, offering workshops and performances in support of boosting youth voices and promoting productive conversations across difference.


For More Information

To learn more about CU’s Playback Ensemble, find out how to join, or book the Ensemble to perform for your class, group, or event, please email: james.f.walker@colorado.edu