Good People of Playback (Gio Lopez)

Gio Lopez. Picture courtesy of Connecting Memphis.

How long have you lived in Memphis? 

13 years

How long have you been a part of Playback Memphis? 

8 years

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

My mother wanted to be a professional singer, she could’t attend her debut at a radio station in her hometown of Perú. But she use to sing all day at home, she inspired me to become an actress. Playback inspired me to be part of Playback, after I attended  my first Memphis Matters for my birthday celebration, I immediately fell in love.


Michael Kelly aka Pookie (lol)


Alegría Isabella, the joy of my life.


My furry son Máximo aka Makyto

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

They love it, and think that I’m very good at it.

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

Now that I’m a mother, I like to take Alegría to the all Latino events possible, so she can be around our Latino culture.

What is calling you to be brave these days? 

My daughter Alegría

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

There are so many, in my experience, is like a moving meditation that I can practice, a moment to be present with myself and people around me. The gift to listen so many different personal and deep stories that many times the ‘teller’ will only share to their best friends. It’s also fun and challenging.

Where do you find joy in your life these days? 

In seeing my daughter grow, its amazing to observe how she is discovering her world, and getting to know her personality, and also the challenges that we both face while we build our relationship.

What do you love about Memphis? 

People of color’s spirit of oppression resistance.

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

I’m proud of the self-awareness work, my life and work as an immigrant in this country, has provided me.

Why does Playback matter to you? 

Playback matters to me because the practice creates a safe space for people to speak their truths, mostly for people whose voices are muted by systematic oppression.

Why should Playback matter to others? 

Same as above. Because the only way we continue to grow from oppression is to listen and have safe spaces for people experiencing oppression to speak their experiences.

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

Undocumented immigrants and refugees.

What’s your Playback dream? 

To have a bilingual (Spanish/English) or only Spanish ensemble.

What do you appreciate about Playback as an artist? 

I appreciate the breaking of the fourth wall, the direct connection with the audience. The challenges of having creativity present in all shows, there is no a script, nothing has being rehearsed after the ensemble introductions, that leaves lots of space for creativity emerging in the moment, I like that a lot.

Do you have a story about a favorite Teller experience? 

Once we had a participant sharing his immigration experience, and how we immigrants can’t pack everybody we love in our suitcases, and how our hearts are big enough to carry all the memories and love we are leaving behind.

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

I like pairs a lot, mostly because many times my life has these disparities.

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

The first one I watched, there were very deep sharing, stories of  grief, pain and sorrow, and also because I shared too.

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? 

Joe, because he will make it real, simple and super funny, even playing the guitar!!


Tennessee Arts Commission
Arts Memphis

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