Melissa Nussbaum – Embodied Narrating: Playback Theatre for Social Change (Collection)

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A TRF Tuesday Event

Embodied Narrating: Playback Theater for Social Change


Overview of the Program:

Playback Theatre is improvisational storytelling that dramatizes, uplifts, supports and validates the stories of voluntary/participating audience members. PT seeks to embody the tone and essence of the story. By design, Playback Theatre is an inclusive space where audience participants can see their shared, true and personal story immediately dramatized with improvised words, gesture, music, and metaphor by trained actors. Each person’s story is worthy of art; valuable not just to the teller but to the whole community. Seeing the story portrayed outside of one’s self allows for fresh perspectives that often lead to relief, discovery and healing. While the community listens, watches and often identifies with someone else’s story, it is the teller of each story who acknowledges if the essence of their story was expressed in the enactment. If the teller does not feel represented, the actors “re-do” the enactment, thus, holding up the teller as the protagonist and authority of their own story. This experience is empowering to the teller and the community. Participants may attend to simply listen, watch and only share if it feels right. 

This mini-workshop will give participants direct experience in the interactive storytelling skills of deep listening and embodied narrating through improvisation, which makes Playback Theatre a powerful tool for community bonding and social change.


Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Five Sessions

Week 1: What is Playback theater? That feeling looks like this – a million ways to show and tell 


Week 2: Social forces – the background of the story


Week 3: The most important relationship – what we are about


Week 4: Stepping into a story – embodying


Week 5: No pretty bows – hard endings are real



Meet your instructor:

Melissa Nussbaum Freeman is a full-time theatre-maker, abolitionist, and activist. In 2017, she founded Red Sage Stories: Playback Theatre & Art for Social Change, a BIPOC community-based theatre company in Roxbury, MA.

Facebook/ Red Sage Stories Playback Theater and Art for Social Chang

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