Ottawa Phoenix Playback Theatre

Improv with heart!

Playback tells YOUR story!

Playback Theatre is a form of grassroots improvisational theatre based on the spontaneous enactment of personal stories. It invites true stories from its audience and brings these to life through the magic of drama, music, voice and movement.

The idea of Playback Theatre is very simple, yet it can have profound implications.  When people are brought together and invited to tell personal stories to be acted out, the results can be clarifying, humorous, enlightening, moving, and/or redemptive.  We discover that our personal experiences are worthy of this kind of attention, and that others can find our story interesting, may learn from it, or be moved by it.

Here is how it works. Actors listen while one of them interviews the audience members about important moments from their lives. After each 1-5 minute story, the interviewer says, “Let’s watch!” and the actors instantly dramatize the story, using music, movement, and dialogue that embody the heart of the story just told. By the end of the performance, you will have probably laughed, cried, had fresh insight about your life, and experienced surprising connection with your fellow audience members. The Playback experience makes visible the common humanity that unites everyone in the room.

Ottawa Phoenix Playback Theatre is part of a playback tradition in Ottawa that began in 1999. The group is composed of seven experienced playbackers with a love for theatre as a form of social service and a commitment to artistic excellence. It gives public performances; performs at private events such as conferences, family reunions, birthday parties and memorials; and offers workshops teaching playback skills.

Ottawa Phoenix Playback Theatre is part of an international theatrical movement that started over 35 years ago. The original Playback Theatre Company came together in 1975 in upstate New York through the efforts of Jonathan Fox and Joe Salas. The company was looking for ways of reaching out and bringing theatre closer to the everyday reality of the community, and breaking away from the scripted literary tradition of theatre. Since then, this art form has grown and taken root in many locations. An International Playback Theatre Network now links Playback companies in over 50 cities in many different languages and contexts.

Playback Theatre thrives in a variety of settings, existing as community theatre gatherings, as well as a professional service to the business and social sectors. Performances occur in public theatres, schools, prisons, community celebrations, hospitals and corporate training rooms. Why has it spread so widely? Because Playback has the magical ability to create a deep ritual space where any story – however ordinary, extraordinary, hidden, or difficult – may be told and affirmed. A brief history of this theatrical form can be found at

Ottawa Phoenix Playback Theatre contacts:

For general inquiries on the group and its activities contact:

Jane Keeler
Phone: 613-730-0366

Or, check the Ottawa Phoenix Playback Theatre website:

To book Ottawa Phoenix Playback Theatre for an event contact:

Marlene Neufeld
Phone: 613-594-9248
Email: ??