Good People of Playback (Wayne Smith)

Meet Wayne M. Smith...

Wayne Smith is one of our very talented ensemble members.

How long have you lived in Memphis?

Basically all my life, except during the later part of the 90’s and early part of the 2000’s I lived in Atlanta, GA, Pennsylvania & Ohio teaching at different universities there. I moved back to Memphis in 2008.

How long have you been a part of Playback Memphis?

5 years or so.

What/who inspired you to be an artist? Or What/Who inspired you to get involved with Playback?

In high school (Central High School by the way) I thought I’d be a visual artist or architect. Soon after I was drawn to radio broadcasting, space travel, computers and new music. I was listening to artists like Laurie Anderson, Kate Bush, Gary Newman and Depeche Mode. Even later I was drawn to Modern Dance (I took a class) and I began to notice dance artists such as Bill T. Jones, Michael Clark and performance groups like STOMP! And Pilobolus. By this point I had become a full-fledged dance performance artist fusing dance, spoken word and improvisation. At some point a few years ago Virginia, Playback’s executive director, saw a concert where I was performing and approached me about coming to a Playback Memphis workshop. I eventually showed up.

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

Interestingly, my family knows of my work with Playback but has not seen much of it. My dance & theatre friends think what I do with Playback is great!

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

I teach dance at the University of Memphis. I also teach and perform dance with Project: Motion Dance Collective among other local dance organizations in Memphis. I travel and I am also a BIG Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Adventure fan so I watch TV shows and movies that reflect that.

What is calling you to be brave these days?


What are the perks of being a Playback actor? And/or practicing Playback?

Flexing and expressing my improvisation (muscles) skills on a regular basis. Doing community work that I feel is important and work that really matters in the community.

Where do you find joy in your life these days?

Music & Dance. Alone or out with friends.

What do you love about Memphis?

The simplicity and complexity. The familiarity, my family and southern qualities.

What are you most proud of in your life and work?

Some of my former students (graduates) that are doing great things in the dance and creative art fields.

Why does Playback matter to you?

I feel it has the potential to change our city, our country, and our world for the better.

Why should Playback matter to others?

Same as above…

What audience would you like to engage through Playback?

Vietnamese and/or Latino immigrant communities that have settled in Memphis over the years. We have yet to do a show exclusively for immigrants.

What’s your Playback dream?

Playback in outer SPACE?

What do you appreciate about Playback as an artist?

The work, the lessons, and therapeutic nature.

Do you have a story about a favorite Teller experience?

I played a drug-addicted mother of the teller once. The mother unfortunately was killed tragically in a car wreck not long after she had become sober. For the rest of the story after her death scene I became a spirit watching over the teller (her daughter) being a presence at her graduation from college. It was a very emotional experience and I was so honored to help bring the teller’s story to life.

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

Fluid sculptures are my favorite because I learned that form first and feel I know it the best.

Favorite cocktail?

I have a short list: most any vodka cocktail (especially vodka pomegranate cosmos), mint juleps in summer, hot spiced mead (honey based wine) in winter, margarita on the rocks anytime. Quick & easy go to…hard apple ciders (especially cinnamon infused Angry Orchard brand).

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?

Seriously? Uh, maybe Ann. We have grown to know each other more and more recently from doing the Be the Peace school based work, and I like how she thinks and prays!

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