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Playback Theatre Training: Practice & Performance

February 7 @ 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm


Playback Theatre Training

 Practice & Performance

Conducted by

Armand Volkas, MFT, RDT/BCT
Psychotherapist, Drama Therapist, and Theatre Director
Clinical Director, The Living Arts Counseling Center
Artistic Director, Living Arts Playback Theatre Ensemble

With Guest Facilitators from Living Arts Playback Theatre Ensemble


A 16-Week Training Workshop 
Culminating in a Performance on May 16

6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
February 7 to May 23

The Living Arts Counseling Center
1265 65th Street
Emeryville, CA  94608
(Between Hollis & San Pablo)



Playback Theatre

Playback Theatre transforms personal stories told by audience members into improvised theatre pieces, on the spot, incorporating music, movement, ritual and spoken improvisation. Workshop participants will learn the subtleties of the Playback Theatre form, refine acting and improvisation skills and share in the often profound experience of hearing each other’s stories and bringing them to life. The Playback process develops intuition, insight, creativity and effective communication. It also creates community and connection among people by honoring the dignity, drama and universality in their stories.

During the course, short and long-form Playback Theatre techniques and skills will be taught. The series will culminate in a performance in front of an invited audience on May 16 integrating the forms that have been imparted with music, movement and creative ritual. This training is for actors, teachers, therapists or anyone interested in creating art from the specific and universal in our experience.

No previous theatre or improvisation experience necessary. Shy people are welcome! 

For more information and registration:

(510) 595-5500, Ext 11

Playback Theatre Forms to be Explored and Refined:

Fluid Sculptures: Using sound, movement, voice and poetic phrases to express the essence of a feeling or short story.

Growing into the Essence: Actors move collectively as an ensemble, mirroring one another’s movement and sound and distills the specified emotion or event into a perceivable essence.

Narrative V: In bird flock formation, one actor delivers a passionate or outraged monologue while moving in stylized slow motion in response to a Teller’s feeling or story. The other members of the ensemble mirror the gestures and movements of the actor speaking creating a beautiful improvised choreography.

Pairs: Through sound and movement, two actors flesh out conflicting or contrasting feelings the Teller has about something.

Sculpture Garden: Actors step out one at a time and assume a pose, creating a static sculpture with their body. One by one, the actors “come to life” and bring the characters and emotions of a story to life.

Tree: Actors come out one by one express an aspect of the Teller’s story ending in a “tree-like” sculpture.

Rant (Overture): In a line, the actors turn and face upstage. One by one, each actor turns to face the audience and begins speaking quickly and passionately about an issue, theme or emotion. The actors turn around popcorn style and rant, cutting each other off and creating an entertaining, yet evocative playback of the Teller’s experience.

Elements: Actors move about the stage with urgency only speaking while moving and cutting each other off in a spontaneous choreographic response to an emotion or story.

Three Part Story: Three actors each take one part of a Teller’s story and act it out bringing different aspects of the story to life.

The Chorus: The acting ensemble co-create an extended response to a story or emotion conveying the essence of the story through movement, sound, scenes and poetic monologues in non-literal interpretations. Requires cohesive ensemble work.

Armand Volkas is an actor, theatre director, and professor in the Counseling Psychology Program at CIIS. He a licensed psychotherapist and drama therapist in private practice in Emeryville, CA and director of The Living Arts Playback Theatre Ensemble.


February 7
6:30 pm - 9:30 pm