Good People of Playback (Joe Murphy)

How long have you lived in Memphis?

12 years.

How long have you been a part of Playback Memphis?

Since the beginning.

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

My wife, Virginia introduced me to Playback in NYC.




Abel (13) and Harlan (10)


Luna (2)

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

They are very inspired by the work we do at Playback.

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

In nature.

What is calling you to be brave these days?

I’m going back to school this fall to become a nurse.

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

Being part of such an incredible group of artists and individuals is a real honor.

Where do you find joy in your life these days?

Watching my boys grow up.

What do you love about Memphis?

The Grit and the Grind.

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

I’ve tried to stay as true to myself as possible.

Why does Playback matter to you?

It has the power to transform and heal society.

Why should Playback matter to others?

The sacred act of listening is fully on display. We would have a saner world if more people knew how to listen.

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

We are living in such a divisive time in our country. I would love to do a show with Trump supporters and non-Trump supporters.

What’s your Playback dream?

That more children grow up with Playback being a part of their lives.

What do you appreciate about Playback as an artist?

As a performer the importance it puts on the audience is profound. Everything we are inspired to use in our creative choices as actors is distilled from the audience’s sharing.

Do you have a story about a favorite Teller experience?

There was a story from an older gentleman who had been a young civil rights lawyer in the 60s and had marched in the streets with Dr. King. There was a moment in the reenactment when all the performers including those not performing in the story got on stage, locked hands, and became the crowd of protestors. Usually there are only four performers during a story but there was something about the impulse for the entire ensemble to break out of the ‘Playback’ form that transcended the moment into something very special.

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

Being the teller’s actor when it is really cookin’ is an out of body experience. You completely lose yourself in the person’s story and feel as if you are being led by some divine force of nature.

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

The Victims to Victory show a few years back. Victims to Victory is a support group for family members that have lost love ones to homicide. The level of sharing was deep, honest and brave.

Favorite cocktail?


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?

Ekpe. He is the shaman of Playback Memphis.

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Arts Memphis

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