Who We Are
Playback Memphis trains and employs professional artists and facilitators to use the unique art form of Playback Theatre, a listening and story sharing practice, with people in a variety of settings. We co-create and catalyze community well-being, social healing, and flourishing culture.
Beginning with its founding in 2008, Playback Memphis has welcomed Memphians across generations, neighborhoods, and challenging divides to Memphis Matters, our public performance series at TheatreSouth. Our Community Matters Partnership Program also started this year, giving local nonprofits a scholarshipped opportunity to host a performance or workshop to increase connectivity, meaning making, and trust within their organizations.
In 2011, we launched Be the Peace!, an anti-bullying program for schools in which fifth-grade students spent one day a week learning Playback theatre techniques and exploring their own stories. Through this program, Playback Memphis is able to help strengthen social-emotional learning and positive school culture, one in which students can excel academically and socially.
In 2012, Playback Memphis was one of six companies selected to perform at the North American Playback Theatre Festival in Washington D.C., selected from a field of more than 75 companies.
In 2015, we started Performing the Peace, a groundbreaking program bringing together police and justice-impacted individuals. Performing the Peace applied Playback theatre tools to to create an open dialogue between participants to build an authentic and positive relationship between the two groups so, together, they can find ways to tend the wounds of the historical collective trauma of racism and effectively address the underlying systemic and structural issues that create harm in our communities.
In 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Playback Memphis created the Practicing with Playback series, ensemble-led workshops teaching participants the tools of Playback theatre to encourage mindfulness, well-being, and resiliency.
In 2023, Playback Memphis was honored as Nonprofit Organization of the Year at the Mid-South Nonprofit Conference’s Catalyst Awards. The award celebrates nonprofit professionals and organizations who have demonstrated their commitment to being a catalyst of change, hope, and belongingness.
Playback Memphis is part of a longstanding international organization that supports Playback theatre companies in over 60 countries around the world. Playback Memphis is recognized nationally as a leading model in Playback theatre. In 2011, Playback Memphis’ work in the community was highlighted on SIRIUS Radio’s nationally syndicated Bob Edwards show in a piece featuring Jonathon Fox, creator and founder of the Playback model.