Good People of Playback (Ann Wallace)


How long have you lived in Memphis?

 All my life.

How long have you been a part of Playback Memphis?

Approaching 9 or 10 years

What do you appreciate about Playback as an artist?

Playback allows me to be a working actor. It allows me to interact with audiences in a beautiful, life changing, hands on way. I truly feel the impact of serving my audience in a way that is unique to Playback.

Do you have a story about a favorite Teller experience?

Well colorblind casting takes on new meaning at a Playback show. A Caucasian mother once cast me to play her young son who was cast in the title role in the Broadway touring production of Billy Elliott. So I, a beautiful brown woman, celebrating 30 years on earth for the 12thor more time, was cast to play this young, vibrant, white boy. The mom had other actors closer to her sons’ type she could have chosen but she picked me. She told me afterwards that I looked just like him. I knew what she meant. It blows me away what this art form can do.

What’s your favorite Playback form- fluids, pairs, etc? Why?

Stories- Because the actors have the chance to create fuller more developed characters than the other forms we use and because stories continue to be a challenge for me, and I am invigorated by full emersion in things that rattle me.

Does one Playback performance stand out as profoundly affecting to you?

Yes, an older man shared the story of being a new civil rights attorney and getting to meet Dr. King. The air was electric during the telling of his story and the playing back of it. I ended up playing Dr. King and playing back the conversation (as I imagined it from the telling of it) he had with King. It was a magical moment. I almost felt I was transported back in time.


Yes, Phil Darius Wallace. He is also an actor.


Yes. Three little creative artists (14, 13, 7). I keep asking, can one of you please just go to med school. The jury is still out.

What do your friends and family think about your Playback-ing?

They love Playback and admire this rich and wonderful work that I do.

Favorite cocktail?

Babalu can do no wrong with cocktails. The Babarita is on point!

How do you most love to spend your time when you are not Playback-ing?

More acting. These days I am doing training films and commercials and hoping to expand to movies. And spending lots of time with my family.

What is calling you to be brave these days?

There is a certain educational experience I want for my children and it has been a challenge to find and pay for that in Memphis. I am my most brave in raising brown children in a city and country where many of our fellow citizens and those in authority do not value my children’s lives and in some cases don’t even see them as innocent children. I am in a constant state of hurt, anger and apprehension at the news.

What are the perks of being a Playback actor? Or being a part of Playback?

Being a part of something greater than myself. This work is transformative and I get to be a part of that. Being a Playback actor is to have your contribution respected, to have your time respected. Virginia, our founder and artistic director is committed to paying actors generously. It is one of the highest compliments to me as an actor to be paid a generous wage as an actor. It says, you’re worthy.

If you had to pick one ensemble member or staffer to give your eulogy (to speak at your funeral), who would it be and why?

Wayne, because I think he sees me as a sensitive human being, a woman, a mother, an actor but he is also lets me know that the strong black woman in me is seen and appreciated.

What are the benefits of practicing Playback?

My listening skill is turning into a super power I think. When I encounter difficult situations my mind taps into the feelings and unmet needs of the other person at the speed of light now. I am in community with great folks.

What is your Playback dream?

A brick and mortar with our sign hanging out front so that our name is recognizable in the city. And that our work transforms this city of people into much more empathizing, loving, kinder human beings. And that cities that don’t have Playback, contract with us to bring our transformative work to their citizenry.

Tennessee Arts Commission
Arts Memphis

Playback Memphis is proud to be supported by ArtsMemphis and the Tennessee Arts Commission.
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