An occasion to experiment and involve the crowd

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: In an era of interactivity, it was only a matter of time before theatre caught up.

When Sterling Playback Theatre, with Reds Playback Theatre, staged its annual production on the theme, `Acts of Kindness,' on Sunday, it was an occasion to experiment and involve the crowd in the performance.

The show was part of a larger event around the world when 70 playback theatre companies celebrated the World Kindness Day with a common theme.

Playback theatre works on the lines of an improvisation show, in which a group of artistes act out a scene, story or mood shared by any member in the audience.

Sunday's programme started with Cyril Alexander of Sterling Playback inviting the audience to share their emotions on kindness. The artistes went on to portray joy, hatred, pity and sorrow.

The next set of performances was based on conflicts experienced by the audience — confusion over career, choice of job and the urge to tell people to switch off mobile phones. The artists split themselves into pairs to represent each side of the conflict. For the `chorus' round, the conductor invited people to share their mixed feelings on any subject or issue. The audience shared their concerns and decisions that had changed their lives, to watch the artistes give shape to their thoughts.

Christina Samy of Reds Playback then took on the role of the conductor and asked the audience to pair up and tell each other an anecdote involving an act of kindness.

A few minutes later, a member of the audience was invited to narrate a story and interviewed to give the actors an idea of the intricacies of character and sub-plot before the actors put up an impromptu skit.

Playback theatre was founded by Jonathan Fox in 1975.

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