Spring Brings Performances at Theatre Works

Spring Brings
by Melbourne Playback Theatre Company

“…seethes with breath-catching moments of insight and an unscripted emotional intelligence… you couldn’t ask for a clearer affirmation of what acting can do on the spot, undirected…”

The Age

Never seen a Melbourne Playback performance? Come and see what you’ve been missing.


Over the past 30 years Melbourne Playback Theatre Company has developed a reputation for creating intelligent, physical theatre that is highly skilful yet playful.

A rare form in the world of live theatre, playback is performed by an ensemble of actors and musicians who specialise in creating theatre on the spot by drawing from experiences and observations shared by audience members.

With the audience as the scriptwriter, each Springs Brings performance will be completely unique – transforming people’s observations, experiences, opinions and reflections into honest, humorous and insightful theatre.

Spring Brings boasts a highly talented and respected ensemble of performing artists, musicians and theatre-makers that continue to explore the playback theatre form and the theatrical possibilities of storytelling.

Spring Brings…. all kinds of true stories out from the corners. Funny stories, odd stories, incredible stories – stories of discovery, pain, wonder, and mischief. Fresh stories that have sprouted up this spring – perhaps with a few roots in the debris of winter just gone or the years just passed.

Each performance is underscored by two musicians improvising live in the performance space.

Spring Brings

Performances September 8 & 9 at 7.30pm
Theatre Works, Acland St, St Kilda
Tickets $25/$15 + bf
Weekend Intensive Workshop September 8 & 9 10am to 4pm
Bookings and further information www.melbourneplayback.com.au

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CFA Creswick Performance

What an absolutely fantastic performance from the Playback team in Creswick last Sunday.

I’m not sure if it’s been passed back but the group received a standing ovation following their session. They hit the mark beautifully in terms of Ian being able to draw stories out of our members and the group then entertaining us with a portrayal back to the group. Some members were in tears during some of the stories. We are a proud organisation with some fantastic personal stories and Playback captured that beautifully.

Please pass on my thank you and congratulations to the group. I will definitely recommend Playback to others.

Thank You,

Jamie Devenish, Member Engagement, Project Coordinator, CFA Fire & Emergency Management

Ian and Sarah volunteer

Ian David, Melbourne Playback Theatre Company Facilitator and Sarah CFA member

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It’s June! Company Manager Update Part 2

We had so much positive feedback in June, we couldn’t fit it all in one post!

Focus on Youth issues in the Shire of Hume:

The team we had was awesome!!! They were a fantastic opener to the day; they really set the mood!!! The feedback from the audience was that the day was FANTASTIC! I even had to ask them to start early and they did with no trouble; we will use them again for sure!!

Kayla Miller, Youth Participation and Engagement Officer, Hume City Council

Melbourne Playback conducted many workshops throughout May including Public Workshops (see website form workshops coming up in September 8 & 9)

Melbourne Playback supported Hallam Senior College with their subsidy request for a workshop dedicated to confidence, team-work and presentation skills. Lizl Tregidga is a teacher at Hallam Senior College and teaches an all-girls senior VCAL Personal Development class. Lizl said in her request “We have just come into a partnership with the National Women’s Council of Victoria and will be working closely with them this year. As part of the plan for our girls (my class, the broader female student community at Hallam), I was hoping to organise an incursion focusing on an full day ‘girl empowerment’ program.”

Feedback from the day printed in the school’s newsletter said:

The Melbourne Playback Theatre Company focussed a lot on encouraging the girls to build their confidence by gaining and holding an audience and just feeling comfortable being themselves.

Sebel Town House hosted a performance for Financial Counselling Australia (formerly AFCCRA) for all parties to discuss and reflect upon the complexities, frustrations and successes that both groups experience in solving client matters. Playback is an effective tool for groups to reflect and appreciate the circumstances under which we all work, to find solutions to processes and, as a way to increase understanding of the needs of others.

The following feedback was received from Lauren Levin, Manager, Policy & Strategic Projects, Financial Counselling Australia (formerly AFCCRA):

The session was great. I’m just doing our survey and will forward any specific comments I get, but the people I spoke to love it. Your team is totally professional.

Thanks to all for the great feedback – we look forward to seeing you at Melbourne Playback again soon!

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It’s June! Company Manager Update

WOW another month just flashed by in the life of Melbourne Playback Theatre Company!


Image thanks to Pia Johnson

This month the Company has performed for many organisations and their staff including;

Inner South Community Health Service Health workers planning day: Melbourne Playback did a performance for seventy Community Health Workers who work with a member of the community who has acute health problems. Deb Barrow, Program Manager, advised us “It’s a planning session around mapping links between internal and external contacts, as well as bringing everyone together”

Further feedback from Helen Bell, General Manager (Community Support Area of Inner South) said “I would like to thank Melbourne Playback Theatre on behalf of all of our staff for your energy, skill, humour and amazing insights. We saw people laughing, with tears in their eyes, when on past occasions they have had grumpy faces! I’m sure that you are used to accolades and we add ourselves to the list and offer our heartfelt thanks. Thank you to all your fabulous team. It was very energizing and lots of fun and has put us into a good space to tackle the issues that we need to grapple within the year ahead. Exactly what we thought we might achieve!!’

City of Casey Leadership Day: The City of Casey requested a subsidy from Melbourne Playback, which we were able to give thanks to a generous donation we received.
Primary school student leaders were encouraged to recognise their individual leadership skills and strengths, which are transferable across many areas.

Feedback from Kharie Murphy Primary School (Support Office, City of Casey) was received by Melbourne Playback as follows:

“The performance captured what our day had been about and highlighted what the children had gained through participating. The performance was interactive and entertaining and completely fulfilled our expectations. The feedback I received on the day from the children was all positive.”

120 participants completed the evaluation following the session and marked Melbourne Playback theatre as AWESOME!!

Look out for more updates next week.

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Playback theatre is magical!

It is a very exciting time in Playback life, the Geelong Courthouse public performance was just great with lots of positive feedback from storytellers and the general public.

Margaret Bourke, Program Manager at GPAC who had never seen a Playback Performance said:

“I thoroughly enjoyed the performance and thought isn’t it great that this diverse group of people are sitting in a theatre in Geelong participating in this. I was pleasantly surprised!”

Our other Playback Performances this year will be at Theatre Works in September and LaMama Court House in December. If you have never had a playback experience then don’t miss our next Public Performances, get on our mailing list (front page of website) and be made to feel special by having a story from your life told…


Or just watch other people’s be told as Simone a member of the Geelong Courthouse performing group said:

“The show was such an amazing, positive experience. As an adolescent/young person in Geelong I really cannot recommend Playback Theatre enough. It blew my mind. I am on such a high. Prior to seeing the show I had been worried about a few things going on in my personal life, but the Playback Theatre performance just spoke to me in such a way that I feel at peace and able to tackle anything now, despite not having my own story told to me.

I have not laughed like that in ages. I cannot thank Playback Theatre enough. Personally, I think the bottom line was that the stories were performed in an incredibly beautiful and feel-good manner: it was magic.”

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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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Moments by Sherridan Green, Company Manager

Since starting with Melbourne Playback in November 2011, I have had many exciting moments as the Company Manager. Let’s start at the beginning; the 30th Birthday Celebration where, as the newest member of Melbourne Playback, I stood in the epicentre of a long spiral, surrounded by over 70 past members. I felt a rush of excitement and a sense of pride as I joined this inspirational group of people at such a milestone in the company’s history.

Next, to Shepparaton for the company’s performance at Riverlinks Theatre on the theme of ‘Mystery’. In a hire van we travelled as a company to the gig and I just loved it but questioned my enthusiam in doing the schools mailout at the same time! The performance was just great and the moment of it all coming together was when Danny, who was conducting, asked the audience “Is there anything anyone would like to say?” A gentleman who had not spoken before said he felt warmed by the stories people told and he understood that we were not so different, that from each person’s story there was something he could relate to in his own life. He had the feeling of being connected.

Stephen Donelly, Manager Performing Arts and Conventions, Riverlinks Complex of Performing Arts Centre Shepparton said:

“Melbourne Playback has the gift of extracting honesty and the evening was a revelation: Every person has a fascinating story and that story has relevance to us all.”

It was indeed a pleasant and honest evening!

At the end of January Jonathan Fox and Jo Salas, co-founders of Playback Theatre, came and workshopped with the company. Such a fantastic opportunity to see the creators express their points of view and pass on their learnings which was enriching and enlightening.

The moment here was when I told a story that Jo Salas conducted. I felt so special and I don’t know why exactly but I know I felt so in the moment, so alive, so seen and heard.

The Melbourne Playback Theatre Company performers played back my story and from this I saw something about my self that I had not seen or understood before. I was blown away!

And if I was not already sold on Playback Theatre as being transformative and insightful, this performance certainly sealed the deal!

**This is something I recommend for every person to do in their lifetime – Have a story of yours played backed by Melbourne Playback Theatre Company. But beware – it is addictive. Everyone has many stories to be told.

More moments soon………. Sherridan Green

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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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