Playback Theatre and Social Change: Functions, principles and Practices by Ben Rivers and Jiwon Chung

Ben Rivers
Jiwon Chung

Based on the authors’ extensive experience in the US, India, and the Middle East, this concise article proposes a set of well-reasoned principles and guidelines that support the effective, ethical use of Playback Theatre for social change. Ben Rivers is Co-Director of the Arab School of Playback Theatre in Lebanon. Jiwon Chung is a practitioner of Playback Theatre and Theatre of the Oppressed in Berkeley, California. (See full bios following the article.)

Playback Theatre and Social Change: Functions, principles and Practices

by Ben Rivers and Jiwon Chung

April 2017

Playback Theatre can contribute towards social justice by giving a human face to the issues and demands that define a movement. The enactment of personal stories brings out the truth, dignity and detail of a cause, re-grounding political struggle within our shared humanity.

In this article, we will propose several functions that Playback can serve within social movements. We will also look at some guiding principles and techniques that can support our work as Playback activists.

Functions of Playback

Through Playback Theatre, silenced voices and counter-testimonies are heard and amplified. This helps to raise awareness about the realities of injustice and oppression.

At the same time, oppressed populations are able to define their own sense of self through accounts that celebrate the richness, complexity, and dignity of their lives. This in turn helps to challenge the stereotypes and other forms of misrepresentation that frequently define mainstream discourse. Continue reading “Playback Theatre and Social Change: Functions, principles and Practices by Ben Rivers and Jiwon Chung”