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College thespians play back audience stories as theatre

April 22, 2014

McDaniel College Theatre presents McDaniel Playback at 7 p.m. May 5 in WMC Alumni Hall. The performance is free and open to the public.

Playback is a form of improvisational theatre, created through the unique collaboration of performers and audience. An audience member tells a personal story, chooses actors to play the roles and then watches as the story is recreated as theatre. Playback theatre aspires to create a space where every voice might be heard and any story – ordinary or extraordinary – performed and witnessed. Playback performance requires spontaneity, sensitivity and skills in theatrical improvisation.

Performers are students in an interactive theatre lab in playback theatre, a part of the Interactive Theatre focus area of the Theatre Arts Department at McDaniel. The company is directed by Ron Miller, professor emeritus of the Theatre Arts department, and Chris Molloy, a graduate of the interactive theatre program and artistic director of the Maryland Playback Ensemble, a community-based playback theatre company based in Westminster. The company is coached and the performance co-conducted by Britt Burr, another graduate of the program and a masters-prepared drama therapist.

Three Theatre Arts majors are completing Senior Interactive Theatre Laboratory, one of the capstone experiences in Theatre Arts. They are Elizabeth Maxman of New York City, who is co-conducting; Megan McCargish of Reisterstown, Md., and Elena Waller of Oakland, Calif. 

The original Playback Theatre Company was created in New York in 1975, with Jonathan Fox as its director. Miller first studied the form with Armand Volkas, director of the Living Arts Playback troupe in Oakland, Calif., and has worked with Volkas in his international playback work with cultures in conflict. More recently he worked with founders Jonathan Fox and Jo Salas, and has attended international conferences in Germany and Cuba. Playback has been offered in public performances at the College since 2004. Former students in the course have gone on to careers in acting, drama therapy and education. 

For more information, call the box office at 410-857-2448.

 
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