Good People of Playback (Holly Lau)

Holly Lau is a member of our professional ensemble and Chair of Theatre & Dance at the University of Memphis.

How long have you lived in Memphis? 

27 Years!

How long have you been a part of Playback Memphis?

Not sure… 8 years?

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

I grew up in a theatrical NY family- one cousin was in the original Broadway show Gypsy with Ethel Merman and her sister danced in the Jose Limon Dance Company. I went to an amazing one-semester theatre program called The National Theatre Institute – we lived in Eugene O’Neill’s summerhouse. That experience changed everything for me.


Richard Harper is my lovely husband. He was a dancer and visual artist when we met. We danced some together. He now focuses on painting and sculpture.


Jesse Lau is 35! He lives in Seattle and is a Vice President of Real Self, an internet based company.

Andy Harper is 27. Thank goodness he lives in Memphis  with his wonderful wife Jessica, 2 dogs and a cat. He works at Lens Rentals and is a videographer.


The beloved Willy, part dachshund and beagle, we think.

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

Each and every one loves the work.

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

Well I do have a job, which I like (most of the time)! Chair of Theatre and Dance so surrounded by artists. I also love to read, hang out with my husband and kids and go to the movies.

What is calling you to be brave these days?

To keep my heart open despite pain and loss and fear of the future.

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

I so love how connected the practice allows me to feel to myself, the company and the audience.

Where do you find joy in your life these days?

My backyard bird and  squirrel sanctuary.

What do you love about Memphis? 

There is a streak of courage and nobility running through this place. I also love the trees, especially in spring. They are grand and delicate.

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

I did a one-woman show about surviving my first husband’s death when my son was an infant. The piece resonated with lots of folks. I performed it at about five universities around the country and in England.

Why does Playback matter to you?

The selfless community it inspires is so important.

Why should Playback matter to others?

Because really listening to each other is a sacred act.

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

I keep hoping we could have a bigger presence at the University of Memphis.

What’s your Playback dream?

To never stop.

What do you appreciate about Playback as an artist?

The practice of self-trust and selflessness that is required in this kind of improvisation.

Do you have a story about a favorite Teller experience?

When Michael revealed he and Gio were pregnant!

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

Pairs, I think. That form speaks to the dialectic that is part of all of us.

Favorite cocktail?

White wine! Always!

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 could dance it.


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