I, too, was feeling nervous during my first Playback performance. You know the beauty of Playback, it is an improvisational art form. And art can be spontaneous. All that you need to remember, is don’t “act”. Just feel the emotions of the teller. The more intently you listen to the teller’s story, the more you will be able to do justice to the story. Okay? So be centered, focus. Don’t worry. And one other thing. (music plays) You are not alone. (music plays) (applause) So as you saw, that was a glimpse of Playback Theater. So… What is Playback Theater? Where did it originate from? Playback Theater was created by Jonathan Fox and Jo Salas in the year 1975. It is an improvisational form of theater. Improvisational, meaning? Meaning, our actors, they have no scripts. Our scripts, are the audience, you guys!!! In Playback theater, the audience tell their stories, narrate their stories, share their feelings… And the actors, perform them in front of you- on the spot! So are you ready to watch? (audience says out loud) Yes!!! Hmm? (audience says out loud) Yes!!! Good, good, okay. Uhh….so before we begin, I think, uh, I would like to, know my audience a little better. I would like to ask you a few questions. How many of you detest waking up early in the morning? (laughs) Okay. How many of you are afraid of the dark? How many of you have been bullied by someone? We really have a lot in common. Okay, how many of you… love listening to stories? Oh, wow! That’s great. Superb. So today, we have a lot of stories… that I won’t be narrating! Today, you will tell stories and our actors will play it out to you. Okay, so…time for Playback Theater! Now I’ll ask something that is asked by almost everyone, everyday. It’s a simple question, with a simple answer. So would anyone from the audience, like to share with us, how are they feeling today? Anyone? I am feeling scared. I am a shy kid. My friend told me about Playback Theater. We are supposed to share our stories, right? I don’t share my feelings with anyone. I am also excited about being here. My friend had also said that, Playback theater is magical. After coming here, it feels like something different is going to happen. So… I’ll go with the flow. Let’s see. Okay. So you are scared as well as excited? Your name? Dishant. Dishant, okay. Audience and Aasman, let’s watch Dishant’s feelings in “Pairs” Form. Let’s watch. (music plays) (music continues) I’m feeling super nervous. But I am super excited! My friend has told me, Playback is magical! That fills me with so much excitement!! But what if I say something stupid and become the laughing stock? Don’t worry. Everything will be fine. Have a look! Speak your mind for once! There are butterflies in my stomach! (audience laughs)
These are butterflies of excitement! Have a look! Wow! For the first time, I’ll speak in front of everyone!
No I don’t think so. I’ll share my feelings with everyone.
I am so scared! I am so embarrassed. Last time I thought I cannot… But this time I will try…
No! No! I won’t speak in front of so many people. I will speak! Last time I was laughed at mercilessly. I am so determined this time…
No, I won’t speak, I just won’t. Mom has made me confident.
No, I’ll be laughed at… I am so ashamed. I’ll ace it! They are such talented people, won’t I sound stupid if I speak? Aww (concerned toned) Why do you worry so much? These guys are putting up a performance, what will I….???
The sky won’t fall! I wonder if I’ll be laughed at? I won’t…
Why are you so stubborn? Give it a shot! That’s how you build confidence!
No, no, no… You will definitely speak today. Playback is very magical, you have no idea. It is pure magic. I feel shy. You won’t stop once you start! Give it a shot buddy! (music plays) Thank you actors. (audience applauds) So Dishant, could you see your feelings? I realised while watching that I was able to share my feelings after all. Thank you. Thank you so much for sharing your feelings with us. I hope your fear has reduced? Yes. Terror, fear. Psychologists believe that when we are scared, either we freeze or try to flee, run away. But we always have a third option, to fight back! Isn’t that right? Yes!!! I can’t hear you?!! Yes!!! So, have you ever been in a situation, where you were afraid, but decided to face your fears head on? Do you have any such story? Okay! I used to study under a tuition sir. I used to be very afraid of him. He would punish for every little mistake. He would ask us to stand on one leg, for hours… If you make an error while writing, he would stuff that paper in your mouth. So when I would make an error, so like you said, I would freeze. I could never tell my parents about this. Then one day, he hit my friend on the hand, with a ruler. She began bleeding profusely. My fear became my anger. So I went up and complained to our parents. I made sure we left that tuition class. Wow!!! Your name? Vaishnavi. Vaishnavi. You fought your fear, for your friend, that’s really courageous! Yes, thank you! (audience applauds ) Let’s watch Vaishnavi’s feelings, of feeling fear, which then turned into anger, and then fighting the fear! In “Transforming Fluid” form. Let’s Watch! (music plays) (music continues) You messed up one entire sum. Stand outside on one leg! You messed up one entire sum. Stand outside on one leg! (whimpering uncomfortably) You messed up one entire sum. Stand outside on one leg! Bad handwriting! Bad handwriting! (choking) Freeze!!! Freeze!!! (all actors together) (slaps hand mimicking a ruler’s whack)
(screams in agony) Fight!!! How dare he hit my friend? We won’t go here anymore. (continues whacks and screams intensely) It’s bleeding! (all actors together) (tone gradually descends) (music plays) (audience applauds) Vaishnavi, were you able to see your feelings through the performance? Yes… Thank you Vaishnavi for sharing your feelings with us. So, audience, let’s go deeper now! Our theme for today is “STRENGTH AGAINST ABUSE” Just right now, you saw how Vaishnavi faced her fear, using her strength. After overcoming her fear, she moved ahead. From your life, is there any such story? A time when you felt petrified, but you decided to face that fear? Anyone? Mummy and Papa fight a lot. But one day, Papa yelled terribly at Mummy. I got very scared. Mummy yelled back. Then both began yelling! I was watching Tom and Jerry in the hall. But then suddenly, I heard a loud thud, like something had fallen. When I peeped into the bedroom, Papa was on the floor, Mummy was holding a vase. She was probably going to throw it on Papa. She stopped in her tracks when she saw me. Now they have lesser fights. Unlike Tom and Jerry. Lesser stuff is broken in our house. But this change, happened on that day! Papa was in a fury. Yet again, the same battle-like fight with Mummy. When I spoke up in the middle of it, Papa was about to kick me. He kicked me… once. I turned around and told him, “Papa, stop!” “The way you kicked me, I don’t like it!” I have no idea where all that courage came from! But after that day when I raised my voice, Papa never raised his hand on me. So audience and Aasman, let’s watch Raina’s story in “Narrative Reform”. Let’s watch! (music plays) (music continues) Sometimes, a display of your strength is necessary. A tiny, little girl… (others repeat)
Tiny, little… With so much of strength! (others repeat)
So much!!! But where does this strength come from? (others repeat)
Strength- from where? Do you learn strength in an academy? (others repeat)
An academy? No! Does it come out of a Magician’s cap? (others repeat)
Magician? No! Can strength be bought from a shop? (others repeat)
A shop? No! Rubbing a Genie’s lamp gives strength? (others repeat)
A lamp? No! Then where does this strength come from? (others repeat)
From where? Raina’s life featured two kinds of Tom & Jerry. (others repeat)
Two kinds! Two kinds! The first kind made her laugh! (others laugh heartily) But the other kind, filled her with fear. (others repeat)
I am so scared. One day, both these episodes played together. (others repeat)
Both episodes- together! Papa was shouting! Mummy began shouting as well!
Suddenly, there was a Thud! (others repeat)
Thud!!! Raina peeped into the bedroom… (others repeat)
peeped in… Papa had fallen to the floor! (others gasp softly) Mummy had a vase in her hand! Mummy was about to throw it, when she saw Raina and stopped! (others repeat)
She stopped. This would go on like a regular telecast. (others repeat)
Everyday! But one day, something changed. (others repeat)
Changed! The usual battle-like fight was going on. (others repeat)
The same fight! Papa was enraged! (others seeth angrily) When Raina tried to speak up, Papa kicked her! Raina did not like this at all. Papa was about to kick her again, but Raina stopped him! (others repeat)
Enough! That day onwards, Papa never raised his hand on Raina again! (others repeat)
I protect myself! By now you would’ve realised where this strength comes from? (others repeat)
From within! A tiny, little girl… (others repeat)
tiny, little… With so much of strength! (others repeat)
so much of strength! (music plays) (music continues) That bad uncle lived on the fourth floor of our building. He used to always touch me inappropriately. Here, on my thighs. He would press my thighs like this. First I thought it was harmless fun. I couldn’t understand what to do. I was afraid and also angry. Then one day, I met him in the lift. Just as I was about to enter, suddenly, I was engulfed with fear. I took the stairs instead. Seven floors, I ran relentlessly. That day, I told mom everything. My mom showed me a video- about Good touch and Bad touch. But whenever the Uncle crossed paths, he touched me inappropriately. I sternly told him, “If you ever touch me inappropriately again, I’ll call the police.” He began laughing. My mom happened to be passing by. She figured that something was wrong. She looked at me. I said, “Mom, I told Bad Uncle, ‘If he touches me inappropriately again, I’ll call the police.’ So mom said, “Very good, son. Did you look him in the eye when you spoke?” I replied, “No.” Mom then asked me to repeat myself, but this time, looking him in the eye! Let’s watch Suyash’s story, in “Corridors”. Let’s Watch! (music plays) (music continues) Everyone in this world is good. Everything is good. Life is easy with good people.
That’s what I thought. When Little Red Riding Hood went in the forest, she had no idea that the Big Bad Wolf would be there! I trust everyone! I trust that uncle too. I trust that lady as well. I trust everybody. With bad people, life is tough. I trust everyone. How can he be bad? He lives in our building after all. How can he possibly be bad? Like Little Red Riding Hood, even I didn’t know that Bad uncle would be this bad. (cruelly) Oh dear, how are you? How are you? Long time, huh… Wha, why are you touching me like this? This feels strange…
Keep coming, son! It’s a weird feeling.
Uncle is just being nice, maybe. He is playing around maybe. Just harmless fun, perhaps. What kind of fun is this? Why is he touching my thighs? No big deal.
This is definitely not fun. Why is he touching my thighs? Come in the lift. Seventh floor, right? Come Suyash. Uncle will touch me again!? Don’t be afraid, kiddo, come in. He’ll touch me again. Mummy!! Mummy, open the door! Mummy, open the door! Open the door! Mummy, open the door! Mummy! Mummy showed me a video: Good touch & Bad touch. Greetings viewers, today we’ll learn about Good & Bad touch. Now I understood. If a touch feels uncomfortable, it’s bad touch. That is not allowed. Understand this son, Good touch and Bad touch. Good touch- acceptable. Bad touch- not acceptable. So what uncle is doing, is Bad touch? Uncle is in the wrong. Bad Uncle! I got to stand up to him! What uncle is doing is bad, bad uncle! I got to stand up to him! This is wrong! No one has the right to touch me like this! No one has the right! (sobs) Who gave you the right? No one…..! Who…who gave you the right? (breaks down) If you touch me like this again, I’ll report you to the police! If you ever touch me like this again, I’ll report you to the police! This kid? Will report me? Ha! Come, come along. Who will you go to? You’ll tell them about me? Who’ll listen to you? I don’t like this. Don’t touch me. At least I told him! I am very uncomfortable I should’ve done this before! Feels good to tell him! Told him! Done! I told the Uncle! This feels great! Said it! Now he won’t dare touch me! Ha!!! Look him in the eye! Did you look him in the eye? What will a child say? If you touch me again, I’ll report you to the police! If you touch me again, I’ll report you to the police! I’ll report you! The police, I’m telling you! Who will you go to? Your father is my tea-time buddy. (cruel cacophony) Now, Uncle won’t dare! I won’t stay silent if he does! The world doesn’t only have good people. All you need to fight evil, is Strength. Thank you for the strength you gave me, mom. Because of that, now I can face Bad uncle! Big Bad Wolf! Shoo away! Big Bad Wolf, get the hell away! Big Bad Wolf, shoo away! Big Bad Wolf, go away! Big Bad Wolf, get lost! Shoo away!!! Thank you actors. (audience applauds) (applause descends gradually) (begins sobbing) Kamila! (sobbing inconsolably) (music plays) (mouths) What happened? Double click to edit He was a senior actor in the TV series. He was playing the part of my on-screen grandfather. I was just eleven. Bloody beast! (breaks down) No one, not even my parents, told anything to that scoundrel! (breaks down) “Stuff like this keeps happening.” My own mother told me this! The very next day, my own father left me that beast. And… everyday after that day, “All of this keeps happening!” “All of this keeps happening!” (bawls and breaks down) (music plays) (music continues) Are you, good? But… Kamila? Don’t worry. She is a fighter. You should have seen Dhanush when he had his catharsis moment! He bawled uncontrollably, like a baby! It’s very therapeutic. It is a kind of a… release! Has something like this ever happened with you? It’s not necessary it happen with everyone… Meghna!? Uh… Narrate your moment na. Dhanush! Nothing serious! A girl, my neighbour she used to pull my hair. I was just seven. I was shit scared of her. And you know Dhanush was actually afraid to tell his mom this, because he knew what his Mom would say. “My son got bullied by a girl!” So what do you expect? What should I do? Hit her back? Damn scary she was! Then why, with me, do you have an attitude? (music plays) You aren’t that scary, Meghna! (music continues) (music plays) (music continues) Your Kamila grew weak, Aarif sir. If four years ago, you had not left that house, then you’d be weak. If you had repressed such a deep wound, and continued in silent desperation, then you’d be weak. (music plays) You are still the same Kamila for me. Carefree and bold. You wanted to join Aasman because you wanted to find the artist in you. And… you had said that, “I don’t know about the artist within, but if through Playback Theater you find yourself, then that would be more than enough!” Today you found yourself, Kamila. (whispers) I love you, Aarif, I love you. Did you say something? Did you hear anything? (whispers) No. Then no, I didn’t utter a word. (music plays) (music continues)