Playback Theatre is an original form of improvisational theatre in which audience or group members tell stories from their lives and watch them enacted on the spot. Whether in theatres, workshops, educational or clinical settings, playback theatre draws people closer as they see their common humanity.

Playback Theatre was founded in 1975 in the Mid-Hudson Valley in New York by Jonathan Fox and the original Playback Theatre company, including Jo Salas and Judy Swallow. Since then, Playback Theatre has reached hundreds of settings and locations.

The Differences Between Playback and Psychodrama

         Playback Theater is not a form of psychodrama, nor is psychodrama a form of Playback Theater.  Playback Theater is a form of improvisational theater that consists of a trained acting troupe acting out stories from the audience. The teller of the story watches. The goal is to build community through shared stories. Psychodrama is a method of working with personal and social issues in which the ‘teller” or protagonist is very much the star of their own story, using group members to act out various roles under the guidance of the trained director, usually a skilled  therapist. There is no troupe of actors. The goal is to work through  issues of concern from the past and present  and to increase spontaneity in the many roles one takes in life. Psychodrama is most often used as a form of group psychotherapy or counseling.

      The relationship between psychodrama and Playback Theater is that several of the original developers of Playback Theater were also psychodramatists, Jonathan Fox and Judy Swallow, to name two. Both forms use dramatic means to tell and share stories. However the two methods are very, very different and serve different purposes.


Centre for Playback Theatre


Community Playback Theatre

Meets First Friday of Each Month at Boughton Place, Highland, NY

Tel: 845 255-7502


Hudson River Playback Theatre