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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Playback Theatre Workshops, Back By Demand

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As the River Crossing Playback Theatre ensemble continues to grow and perform, it’s been exciting to see a contagion of interest in learning more and doing Playback Theatre. Workshops are how we learn to do Playback Theatre, experience the thrill of telling, listening and improvising the group-mates’ experiences. We’ve found that ongoing classes (rather than one-time workshops) also fulfill another need: cultivating a community that generates its own momentum and support.

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Playback Theatre Meets First Friday York, June 4

I’m excited to announce that our River Crossing Playback is now crossing into Friday night entertainment territory on June 4 for First Friday in York.  Join us at 8 PM at the York Friends Meetinghouse.

It will be an evening of high drama as our ensemble performs the stories of our neighbors – and maybe even your own!  A beautiful opportunity for gathering our community and hearing its authentic voices.

Image of original cast of 'Healing York Playback' in April 2008.
The original cast of 'Healing York Playback' in April 2008 at the Friends Meetinghouse. York Dispatch - John Pavoncello photo.

Playback Theatre brings to life the stories of its audience through a compelling and suspense-filled improvisational process. One thing is certain; there never was – and never will be – a show like this one.

This special First Friday event is held in the heart of downtown York’s art district on an evening with lots to do. See also http://downtownyorkpa.com and most of all, come see for yourself!

The River Crossing Playback Theatre ensemble was formed in 2007 to build bridges in communities throughout South Central Pennsylvania through the respectful enactment of real life stories. You can invite their unique and powerful performances and workshops to your community, organization, special event or place of worship.  See also: http://rivercrossing.jubileearts.net or contact me.

The event will take place at the York Friends Meetinghouse at 135 W. Philadelphia Street in York, PA.  $10 donation suggested.  More on the event is here at JubileeArts.net.