My intro to
party of creativity therapist Stephanie Hurst.
She asks me
if I’ll join in and do some Playback.
Me: But I’ve
never done it before. Don’t know what to do. Haven’t even seen it.
OK. Just ask the other actors what to do. You’ll be great.
Many gulps of
champagne and several minutes later I find myself performing to a crowd of a couple of hundred partygoers.
I am asked to
play an 8 year old girl pretending to be a gypsy fortune teller for her siblings.
I am transported.
Immersed. It’s a breeze. A stroll in the park. It’s many mixed metaphors.
thing is that I’m not nervous. Not really. Shy little Sally who practically fainted at school musicals and whose knees
went to blancmange even as an adult in a 700-voice massed choir.
just the champers. It’s something about the focus on the story and the teller of the story.
On the play,
ritual and community aspects rather than the self-conscious-everyone’s-looking-at-me-and-judging-me-better-get-it-right
I am assisting
Peter Hall to run Drama Action Centre in Sydney.
I love Playback.
I am passionate
only opportunities to actually do Playback are: a) once a year at the DAC summer school or b) get up the courage and skills
to audition for the awe-inspiring Sydney Playback Theatre Company.
In my administrator
role, I am organising a soiree. I create and send out invitations:
act your way out of a paper bag? Why not try.’
Beyond the soiree,
I’m looking for a group of people to do Playback for and with each other. We might perform, but that’s not the
heart of the matter.
about sharing stories, being affirmed, playing creatively and nurturing community.
Paper is a field of potential.
after September 11th horror in US. Paper Bag Playback celebrates its 4th birthday.
We have a lucky
dip. I win a small coloured notepad.
There are stories
of shock, lostness and anger.
Paper is fragile.
Paper Bag Playback
seems to be falling apart. Again. We’ve had a very up and down life so far.
Who are we?
Where are we
There are conflicts
between people with a performing skills emphasis and people with a therapeutic or well-being emphasis. Uncertainty. Is the
group a safe place to be? Are we even going to do any Playback in any given 3 hour session?
I reach a point
where I realise I must let go of attachment to the group’s existence.
Let it go.
Paper is for wrapping up.
We are performing
We perform for
a broadminded Jewish organisation.
They love us.
We love them.
There are rich
stories of migration, family, identity. There are tears and laughter.
I feel (as in
my very beginnings with Playback) as if I’m in the right place at the right time. In the flow. Aligned. As if the two
communities – Jewish and Playback – were made for each other and speak the same language.
I am on such
a high afterwards, I very unusually lose my bag. (not made of paper, incidentally).
Later a troupe
member reminds me that I played a role in a story in the show where I lost a significant ring. Wooh! This speaks to me of
the power of Playback to affect us – not only as audience members, but also as performers.
My bag is found
in a troupe member’s car boot.
woman’s ring is found on a footpath in Bondi.
Paper is for creating life.
we are exploring the Playback form called Wise Being.
cluster together and become one organism. The idea is to accept and amplify any offer made by any other part of the organism
– otherwise known as a person.
A troupe member
asks our gangly, pulsing, breathing-and-moving-as-one Wise Being the question,
Paper Bag Playback?’
blobbily, a succession of sounds, words and gestures emerge –
as an answer.
utters the Being. Slow movement upwards.
Up’, slurps the Being.
I am watching
We have Grown Up. And yes. It has been painful.
Paper is organic.
We are performing
for a film for an intriguing and worthy project.
A stinking hot
day. A stinking hot warehouse. Stinking hot film lights.
The actors wear
black knitted gloves and balaclavas.
ask! It’s what’s required for this project.
Only eyes and
mouths are showing.
We are not being
paid. We have no idea if the footage will be used. We know that even if it is used, the performers will be unrecognisable
– Balaclavas Anonymous.
This is not
an activity for prima donnas.
Paper is flexible.
I am overcome
by a surge of love and admiration for the performers.
For this fine
I am blown away
by the dedication and commitment of each troupe member to what Jonathan Fox, chief originator of Playback Theatre, calls an
‘Act of Service’.
talented, bright, compassionate people could be spending their weekend doing anything - gliding through a cool pool, perhaps.
we – choose to be here.
Paper is strong.
We emerge from
another muddy patch.
Guess how we
Guided by our
mentor, Rea Dennis, we reconnect with each other.
We share what’s
going on in our hearts. In our lives.
We let ourselves
just be together.
A return to
the core of us.
After all, it’s
the transformative power of sharing stories.
Paper simply is.
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