Welcome to Playback Theatre, where your story unfolds on stage

First Drop specialises in Playback Theatre, where the actors play out the story of an audience member.

You wouldn’t find a lot of people, just about 30-40, watching the performance on stage. You wouldn’t find elaborate sets or costumes. You wouldn’t find too many props. You wouldn’t even know the story that will unfold in front of you. For, it could be of a person sitting next to you during the play.

Welcome to Playback Theatre: an interactive format where people, from the audience, share their personal stories and a group of actors improvise on-the-spot to portray them. According to the International Playback Theatre Network, the format took shape in the 1970s in the mid-Hudson valley of upstate New York in order to break away from the tradition of scripted theatre.

“This format emphasises on people to talk and share their stories. And, we live in a world where a lot of people voice their feelings online. But it’s important to have a face-to-face interaction. Playback Theatre encourages this,” says Radhika Jain, the co-founder and artistic director of First Drop.

“The audience for this is not allowed to exceed 30 or 40 people to create an intimate setting and the person, who shares their story, is not anxious of saying it to a big crowd,” she says.

One person’s story, according to Radhika, usually prompts another to share theirs. “Something in a person’s story will strike a chord with another member of the audience. Also, after seeing a story being played out on stage, they will also feel more comfortable to share theirs,” she says.

Playback Theatre, according to Radhika, is therapeutic. “An IPS officer, who was feeling stuck in his job, said that watching his story on stage gave him a different perspective and he approached his job with a refreshed mindset,” she says.

She shares an anecdote of a Class 10 boy: “He shared his experience of being homeschooled for the first time. And, he was so excited and happy about it. After watching the performance, his parents told us it helped them understand how he actually felt about it. They were happy that they made the right choice.”

Radhika says, it helps actors develop empathy and listening skills.

According to her, Playback Theatre has existed in India for over a decade. “In fact, an international Playback Theatre conference happened in Bengaluru recently.”

To purchase tickets for First Drop’s Playback Theatre on April 7, go to

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 11:20:08 AM |

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