Playback Theatre

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Last weekend Creative Change Conferences presented their fifth annual It Happens To Boys Conference.  Carol Teitlebaum, conference organizer, describes her goal to create spaces where men who have experienced abuse can share and begin to heal from those experiences here.  This year, conference presenters included Dave Pelzer (“A Child Called It”), John Bradshaw (“Healing the Shame that Binds You”), John Lee (“The Half Lived Life”), and Michael Meade (“Fate and Destiny: The Two Agreements of the Soul”).

Playback Troupe at It Happens to Boys Conference.
Playback Troupe at It Happens to Boys Conference.

The Playback Troupe, directed by Dr. Cindy Carter (pictured above in the red tunic) performed stories shared by conference participants.  I was fortunate to be invited to perform with the Playback Troupe this year.  Despite fears about performing after a 10 year hiatus, working with this group of actors and conference guests was an unforgettable experience.

Playback Theatre is a mix of storytelling and stylized improvised theatre.  Performers listen to the volunteer’s story and then create a short piece of theatre that attempts to capture the essence of the story.  We had amazing musical support from Garrett Liggett and Stephanie Thompson, their thoughtful and feeling musical contributions deepened our understanding of the storyteller’s experience.

Also on display at the conference were paintings by artist Scott Smith.  He showed a number of beautiful pieces and I wish I had photos of more of them.  The painting below was my favorite.  **Please see the comments section below to read Scott’s description of this piece.

Artwork by Scott Smith
Artwork by Scott Smith

Here’s the best photo I could get of Michael Meade with my iPhone.  Sorry folks, you’ll have to use your imagination for the rest.  He was an amazing speaker/singer/storyteller and quite personable.Michael Meade's presentation

Michael Meade’s presentation

I was a little familiar with his work but was quite taken with his easy way of being with the audience and with the subject matter he spoke about.  He talked about the roles of family vs. community in the emergence of one’s pursuit for personal meaning, saying that it may be too difficult for our close family members to see and reflect our calling to us.  Instead, we must search and find a person or people in our greater community that recognize and validate that part of our soul.  You can learn more about Michael Meade, his books, and his work with youth and veterans at the website for Mosaic Voices Multicultural Foundation.

Here’s a nice blurb to whet your appetite, also taken with my phone and also blurry:

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And now a big thank you to Carol and Robert Teitlebaum for creating this place of healing.  I was touched and heartened by those I met and by all the work I saw happening around a piece of life that is often kept quiet.  As Carol mentioned in the interview linked to above, abuse of boys is often underreported and there are so many cultural mores work against getting help and support to children and boys especially.  Learn more about the annual It Happens to Boys Conference here.

Carol and Robert Teitlebaum
Carol and Robert Teitlebaum – Life is about giving and receiving love.

4 thoughts on “Playback Theatre

  1. The painting by Scott Smith is called Predator. The kid in the painting is also an abused child who hides his own inner child with a mask of a fox. Sadly at a young age he has already been through dark times. He is holding on to the abused child in all of us. It is time to take off the masks and let go of our own inner abuses that hold us back from living in the NOW.

    • Thank you, Scott! I love this image and the style you’ve painted it in. It is even more compelling now that I know more about it. I hope I’ll see you and more of your work next year.

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