Playback Theatre: A Creative Resource for Reconciliation
By Jenny Hutt and Bev Hosking
Playback Theatre is a form of non-scripted theatre in which ensembles of actors and musicians, usually non-professionals, create improvised re-enactments of stories told by members of their audiences. Bev Hosking is one of the most experienced practitioners and teachers of this form. Jenny Hutt is an experienced playback theatre practitioner, psychodrama leader, and diversity trainer. In this paper, Jenny and Bev document and analyze Bev's work, focusing on the ways in which playback theatre both enhances capacities required for reconciliation and contributes directly to conciliatory processes. The paper draws on Bev's experiences working with women running a counseling project for children in the aftermath of violence in Fiji; 'dalits' (sometimes referred to as 'untouchable' people) and bonded laborers in India; and people in refugee camps in Angola. This paper illuminates some of the ways in which the qualities of aesthetic engagement can support the work of reconciliation. The paper emphasizes the importance to reconciliation work of creating social dialogue among people who have been alienated from one another, and it illustrates how playback theatre creates social dialogue by encouraging people to tell and listen to each other's stories. Through the structured, playful, non-judgmental space of a playback theatre performance, stories can be heard, held, juxtaposed, and transformed.