There seems to be way too few opportunities in my life to really, truly explore emotions – mine, and the those of others.
Today in the Playback Theatre workshop I’m taking we moved on to ‘moments’. In Playback, moments are emotional vignettes – the way someone might be feeling right now, or an experience from their day or week that had strong emotional aspect. The director surfaces the key emotion underpinning the experience and the players, play that emotion back using sound and movement creating a moving tableau, or in playback-speak, an emotion ‘machine’.
And this is one of the reasons I enjoy Playback so much – the opportunity to vicariously experience a range of real emotions, either as a player or even an audience member, and to tap into my own emotional responses. Even complete novices can do this – I think because we’re tapping into the essence of what makes us human. We experience life through our emotional responses. To deny these emotions is to deny our experience, to diminish ourselves.
There’s not so many opportunities to do this as an adult. It seems to be OK for kids to express their emotions in a BIG way – rejoicing in a discovery, railing at unfairness, excited anticipation or disappointment. Think of how children you know express these emotions. Then think how you do. What’s the difference? Why is there a difference? Does it matter?
Another reason I enjoy Playback as a form is that the emotions explored encompass the gamut of human experience, not just the positive ones. This gives Playback an authenticity and grittiness that is almost visceral for the audience. And certainly for the players.