Where Have All the (Young) Men Gone?

The Challenge of Men doing Playback Theatre in North America: A Workshop Case Study

Written for the 2014 Centre for Playback Theatre Leadership Course, Quote with proper citation.

I didn’t know what exhausted me emotionally until that moment…I realized that the experience of being a soldier, with unlimited license for excess, excessive violence, excessive sex, was a blueprint for self-destruction. Because then I began to wake up to the idea that manhood, as passed on to me by my father, my scoutmaster, my gym instructor, my army sergeant, that vision of manhood was a blueprint for self-destruction and a lie, and that was a burden that I was no longer able to carry.

Utah Phillips, “The Violence Within” (1992)

Where are all the men in Playback Theatre? Even in the arts generally? In June 2014, I invited ten men to help me explore this question through an interactive workshop using Playback Theatre-related modalities that I facilitated in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  They played. They told stories. They played stories. And while participants proffered insights into this question, the unfolding workshop process revealed its own set of answers…

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Laughing to Live: what a few comedians taught me

Chris at Play - River Side Stories and Playback Theatre - 2013
Seriously funny? Sometimes i’m confused too. Photo credit: Remi Crist

The death this week of one of the funniest Americans of our time, Robin Williams, spurred me to release these words into the wild.  For my capstone course in Playback Theatre this year, I confronted a Creative Project of my choosing that was to be “out of my comfort zone.”

So when you enjoy improvisation, what could be possibly out of your comfort zone? How about scripted theatre?  No, better:  how about scripted comedy?  The idea hit a funny bone that jerked me into saying “yes” before I knew what I was getting into.

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