Good People of Playback (Eric Hammond)

How long have you lived in Memphis?

25 years. My whole life.

How long have you been a part of Playback Memphis?

Three years. I was “voluntold” to do Playback by Mr. Deandre Brown.

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

Mr. Brown inspired me. He “voluntold” me.


Two girls. MaRiah (almost 6) and Eriel (almost 4).

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

They love it because it helped me change my life. I love the things that are happening in our community. I’m not doing any of the things I used to do. It helped me see things differently. I’m from Frayser so helping these kids, they see me, they know me. I try to be positive with these kids. I don’t want them to make the wrong mistakes like me. I want them to be better than me. I never thought in a million years I’d be an actor. I could never be serious. I play too much, but Playback has me focused and I can act now.

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

I like spending time with my girls. I like to flip, play sports like football and baseball. I like to run and I like trying to fix things. I used to want to be a technician. I have a knack for taking things apart and putting them back together again.

What is calling you to be brave these days?

My kids. I have something to live for because of them. I want them to grow up with their dad. I want to see them graduate and do well in their lives. My little girl protects me – says “you better not hit my dad” – it just does something for me.

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

Hearing people’s stories. Relating to people’s stories. I can relate to a lot of the stories I hear. It makes me not feel alone. It makes me see that we are all struggling with similar things – we all have a story to tell.

Where do you find joy in your life these days?

I love flipping. And my girls of course. And my family not giving up on me. Talking to my dad again. He’s in jail. He’ll get out in four years. Recently just met my sister too –she’s 21. Family is important to me.

What do you love about Memphis? 

There are a lot of good people out here, but you have to go out and move around to meet these people. There’s a lot of violence, but good folks too. I love our organizations like Lifeline to Success and Playback Memphis. If I have never met these folks at Lifeline I’d never have gotten involved with Playback Memphis. I had to open up my eyes that I don’t want to live a life of crime any more.

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

I’m doing what I was meant to do and that’s to serve my community. Every day we serve the kids at Be the Peace, we help teach the kids. We keep the schools clean. We keep them safe. We are trying to just bring a lot of people together.

Why does Playback matter to you?

Because it was a big step in my life. At first I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to work with the police. But now they are my friends. It brightens up my heart. I feel safe now. I used to think all officers were crooked, but now I know that they have a job to do. Without their uniforms on they are human, like me. It brought something out of me that I didn’t have inside me. I want to get into the movies now. Maybe I’ll play a police officer and be a good guy. I love meeting people out here and they recognize me and enjoy our work with Playback.

Why should Playback matter to others?

Because everyone has a story to tell. And their story is safe with us. If one person has the courage to speak up, it helps others speak up as well.

What audience would you like to engage through Playback that Playback hasn’t yet?

I’d like to take a trip to another city that does Playback theatre. Share our work with their world and their worlds with us.

What’s your Playback dream?

To become a movie star. And then to one day be able to be a director like Virginia and run a show.

What do you appreciate about Playback as an artist?

Showed me that I have courage to get in front of people and just do it and take it seriously. It took a whole lot for me to get where I am today. It takes a lot to listen deeply and then Play it back.

Do you have a story about a favorite Teller experience?

I’ve heard so many stories, it’s hard to just pick one.

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

I really like the long stories – it’s more effective – you see more and are able to get deeper. I like becoming the person sharing the story. Building off each other. It can bring a lot out of me. I used to never talk. I was checked out, but then the officers started sharing stories and it changed me – brought so much out of me.

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

This young man awhile back talking about his friend dying. Made me think of my sister Veronica who passed away, six years ago. It also made me think of my cousin Terrence who passed away. It brought me back to that moment. It can help you deal with your grief, death and your situation. Makes me think back to my life and my choices – I used to tell folks I shouldn’t be alive. I didn’t care, but now I do. I don’t want my little brother or kids out here making the same mistakes I did.







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