What is Playback?

Playback Theatre is an interactive, improvisational 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 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 boost insight, strengthen social bonds, and lift civic spirit. 

Impact Playback! 

Since 2019, Impact Playback, CU’s Playback Ensemble, has offered performances and workshops for a wide array of campus and community events, including the CU Diversity and Inclusion Summit, Health and Wellness Summit, Just & Equitable Teaching Program, conflict management courses, and other student support initiatives. 

Since 2020, the Ensemble also has also run the Outreach funded Critical Conversations Project, using the tools of Playback theatre to boost empathy, listening, and connection across difference in areas of rural Colorado that are experiencing rapid and destabilizing social, economic, or environmental change. In 2023, this work blossomed into a Smithsonian collaboration that took them across Colorado in support of the touring exhibit, Crossroads: Change in Rural America.

The Ensemble is made up of faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students from departments across campus. All training is provided via weekly rehearsals and all performances are paid. 


For More Information

Submit the Interest Form to learn more about participating.

Submit the Performance Request Form to request a performance or workshop for your group. 

For other inquiries, contact: James.F.Walker@colorado.edu