Author: Mike McEvoy

Geelong Courthouse show

What a great night we had at the beautiful theatre at Courthouse Arts in Geelong. With Andrew Gray at the helm, we heard a great range of stories from the audience. Many perspectives of life from members of the Geelong community. And with a talented team of actors (Petra, Tim, Danny, Alex, Emily), musicians (Karen @ Ernie) & lighting by Alan, each story found theatrical form. Thanks for the team at Courthouse Arts for inviting us down and thanks to all the people who joined us in the audience. Please feel free to leave a comment here to continue the conversation. Hopefully we’ll be back in Geelong again soon.

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Celebrating 30 Years

It is a great honour to be a part of Melbourne Playback Theatre Company at this point in it’s history. 30 years is a long time for any organisation, but for a theatre company run collectively by its members without Government funding, this is a particularly impressive achievement. Our work is all about celebrating and illuminating the stories of people, communities and organisations. So as we pause to celebrate this milestone, it is fitting that we reflect on the many stories that make up our own history. 

We pay tribute to Jonathan Fox & Jo Salas, the founders of the playback theatre form, and to Mary Good and Melbourne Playback Theatre’s first ensemble members who set the foundations for this successful company. It is a credit to the culture of the company and to the dedication of each generation of members that Melbourne Playback has achieved so much. (At last count, only 62 performers have been members in the company’s history. Of the current troupe of 15, the average length of service is almost 7 years!)

We also pay tribute to the community of supporters that have grown around the company over these 30 years; audience members, clients, advocates, workshop participants. These people have enthusiastically embraced our work and provided us with two elements essential for playback theatre; audience and stories. And there has been no shortage of stories. We have performed in theatres, performing arts centres, conference centres, school halls, community centres and board rooms all over the state for an enormous range of people. Our clients include major players in the corporate sector, Government departments, community organisations, schools and even individuals looking for a unique way to celebrate their 60th birthday. We estimate that Melbourne Playback Theatre has performed over 1,200 performances and transformed over 5,000 stories for over 65,000 audience members since it was formed in 1981.

2011 is an exciting time in the company’s history. We boast an ensemble of highly talented and respected performing artists and theatre-makers who continue to refine and investigate the playback theatre form and the theatrical possibilities of storytelling. Over the past 5 years we have been through a phase of steady growth, and a residency at Auspicious Arts Incubator helped us improve our business operations. Significantly, this year we welcome the company’s first administrative employee, Sherridan Green, as our inaugural Company Manager.

With a history built on the strength of story, we look to the future with the same excited anticipation that only a good story can provide. 

Andrew Gray, Petra Kalive & Mike McEvoy
Artistic Directors
Melbourne Playback Theatre Company

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Performances & workshops at Gasworks

Melbourne Playback Theatre is pleased to be back at Gasworks again this weekend with performances at 8pm on Friday & Saturday nights and two professional development workshops designed for teachers and group facilitators.

If you were part of the audience or a participant at the workshops, we welcome you to continue the conversation with us here…

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April performances at Dancehouse

It’s a treat to bring our work to the theatre at Dancehouse in Carlton. The theatre offers so many theatrical possibilities with its depth, and its polished floorboards and comfortable seating bank provide a warmth and intimacy that is well-suited for the storytelling of playback theatre.

But as always, the magic ingredient is not the theatre. It is the diverse range of stories and experiences brought to the theatre by our audiences. Thanks to all those who came along. Please feel free to share your thoughts on the weekend’s performances here.

And if you missed the shows this weekend or if you’re ready for another dose, perhaps we’ll see you for one of performances in Alexandra, Yea and Flowerdale in May and Gasworks in June.

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2010 Green Room Awards

We’re thrilled to congratulate four of our ensemble members on their nominations for 2010 Green Room Awards. Tamara Saulwick’s solo performance work ‘Pin Drop’ has been nominated for four awards including ‘Outstanding Production’, Clare Bartholomew’s work with Die Roten Punkte’s ‘Kunst Rock’ received two nominations in the Caberet category, and in the Independent Theatre category Tim Stitz picked up a nomination for his solo performance ‘Lloyd Beckmann, Beekeeper’ and Andrew Gray has been nominated for his direction of ‘The Colour of Glass’.

Melbourne Playback Theatre strives for artistic excellence in all our work and we’re proud to have some of Melbourne’s most accomplished performers and theatre-makers as members of our ensemble. Our members find that their work with Playback Theatre feeds their other creative practices just as much as their experience in other theatre companies and performance disciplines helps enhance the quality of this company’s work.

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Public Performances – Nov 26, 27 & 28, 2010


Thanks to those who joined us at La Mama’s Carlton Courthouse for our performances and workshops this weekend. There was lots of laughter and a fantastic array of stories. If you were in the audience, please feel free to leave your comments or ask your questions here.

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One million ways to use Story

Melbourne Playback took part in the ‘Celebrating Story’ conference again this year. Andrew and Ian offered an active workshop entitled ‘interrupting and disrupting story’ on Thursday and a team of us performed a playback theatre show to open the second day of the conference.

It is always fascinating to meet other people who work with story in their professional lives and exchange ideas and approaches. I am particularly interested to see how story is increasingly being used in the corporate world within organisational development, change management and other areas concerned with organisational culture and performance management.

I was inspired to hear how one organisation had discovered the value of collecting the stories and anecdotes from its staff and has started publishing them to accompany the annual report. (Some qualitative material to balance the quantitative data). Another organisation uses the sharing of personal life stories as an integral part of a two-day retreat for its senior management staff. And a group of midwives use story to learn from each other’s experiences. In these cases, story is a tool used for individuals and working communities to define themselves, explore their culture and share knowledge. Humans have used story like this for eons. It makes perfect sense for business to harness the power of storytelling too.

For me, this conference was a reminder of how important and relevant the work of Melbourne Playback can be to communities and organisations. We have a real passion for storytelling and its role in our lives. We love finding theatrical ways of illuminating the meaning within stories and helping stories enrich and transform the collective experience. It is fantastic to meet others who share this enthusiasm for story and to see how they are using it in similar contexts. Thanks to Andrew Rixon of Babel Fish Group for bringing such a diverse group of story practitioners together again this year.

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Kinglake Performance – 2 October 2010

8pm, 2 Oct 2010
KLW Mechanics Hall
1055 Whittlesea Kinglake Rd, Kinglake West

All tickets $5 – RSVP Karen Ph. 5786 1053 or email hidden; JavaScript is required

Melbourne Playback is thrilled to be combining with members of the Kinglake Phoenix Singers, Whittlesea Township Choir, Get on Stage students and Paydirt the Musical cast next Saturday night for a fun night of song, story and theatre.

This is the first time Melbourne Playback has performed alongside community choirs and we are excited to see how playback theatre and song can inspire and enrich each other.

This project is brought to you by Uniting Care, Melbourne Playback Theatre and The Kinglake Phoenix Singers. Thanks to all those who contribute to our subsidy program.

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‘Your Stories’ a performance in Frankston

We’ve just had a wonderful night performing at Cube37 in Frankston. It was great to return to the Mornington Peninsula/ Bayside area again this year and hear some more community stories. We heard about a courageous fat cat stuck in a roof for four days; a writer and the story that literally exploded from her page; an ex-firefighter who found himself protecting his parents and their property on Black Saturday; a mother carried to hospital by a paramedic and a dog-catcher; and a skilled Chinese migrant struggling to pass Australia’s immigration tests. A night of great variety – full of humour, heart and humanity.

The comments below are some of the responses from the audience survey forms.

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songs and story in fire-affected communities

The Choir of Hard Knocks inspired Victorians and gave an insight into the lives of those for whom life has been tough. Many more Victorians did it tough through the fire districts over Summer 2009. In this new project, Melbourne Playback Theatre Company joins with community choirs in the fire-affected regions for a series of nights of music and story.

The project plans to support local choirs to sing the songs of community, and to hear fragments of life now in the recovery.

And to create a great night of celebration and sharing.

If you’ve ever sat in a Melbourne Playback show and felt moved by another’s story, or if you’ve experienced the magic of seeing your story on stage, please consider donating to make this project possible.

Story by story we rebuild our lives. And the lives of others.

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