In 1981, director Armand Volkas first learned about the improvisational theatre form of Playback Theatre. Armand had already been bringing autobiographical elements into his theatre work, so it made sense to him to use Playback Theatre.
In the late 1980’s Armand met Christine Kalb and together they formed an improv performance ensemble. Armand met Jonathan Fox, the founder of Playback Theatre, in New York, and brought Jonathan to the Bay Area to train Armand’s improv group. In 1991, an inaugural performance was held at the old CIIS school (California Institute of Integral Studies). Both Jonathon and Armand co-conducted the performance.
Since then, the Living Arts Playback Theatre Ensemble has had many performances and Playback Theatre workshops here in the Bay Area. Some included Holocaust commemorations with Jews and Germans, a series of performances at the San Francisco City and County jail, An Evening of Interactive Theatre: Iraq Stories, Cracking the Mask: Seeing the Soul of Arab cultures, Hiroshima Stories, Facing the Mountain: Armenians & Turks share their stories, An Evening of Stories about Family, Overcoming Racism: Descendants of Slaves and Slave Owners, Honoring Our Adoption Stories, and Come Out to Playback Theatre: Two evenings of personal stories of the LGBTQ community.
Presently, the Living Arts Playback Theatre Ensemble performs Immigrant Stories, An Evening of Love Stories, and An Evening of Playback Theatre annually. The ensemble also adds special themed public performances, and of course commissioned performances that you can read about HERE.