What is Playback?

For over twenty years, the award winning Random Acts has been specialising in celebrating peoples stories through spontaneous theatre. Unique in its style and deeply embedded in the traditional roots of storytelling in groups, this is community theatre at its very best aiming to enable people to recognise and make connections with other human experiences.

And this is how a performance unfolds. Audience members are encouraged (if they wish) by a 'Conductor' to tell true moments or stories from their lives and by taking part in this interactive process with the actors, they get to see their experiences re-created instantly in front of them. Some stories lend themselves more to be played back through voice, some through movement and some through a combination of both. No two stories told will ever be the same and therefore the re-creations are all unique to each story teller. There is however a common thread running through every performance. There is no rehearsal, no script and not a prop in sight! Just colourful pieces of cloth and various musical instruments are used to complement the stories where appropriate.

Performing to sell out audiences at both the Brighton and Edinburgh Festivals every year, Random Acts have appeared at weddings and even at funerals where the lives of loved ones can be celebrated. All performances are packed with moments of high energy and laughter, but also with moments of gentleness and self-awareness. 

Alongside this, such a versatile performance style has allowed the Company for example to honour the stories of Aids sufferers, provided East End street gangs with a mode of conflict resolution and offenders serving life sentences to process their personal journeys. We believe that by watching their reality mirrored back live, it allows participants the opportunity for reflection and transformation.

To summarise, Random Acts is in essence performance theatre that brings people together to explore and discover their human commonalities and through such entertainment, allows for the surprise of personal discovery and change. Come along to a performance, sit in the story tellers chair and see for yourself!

Random Acts has evolved from Playback Theatre, which was founded in 1975 by the New York Director and Psychodramatist Jonathan Fox.


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