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Pittsburgh Fringe 2024

Identity and Stories of the Self by Pittsburgh Playback Theatre

Pittsburgh Playback Theater

Genre: Theatre

Venue: Fringe Central


Low Down

Identity and Stories of the Self by Pittsburgh Playback Theatre – a  beautiful display of the human experience,


Pittsburgh Playback Theatre’s performance at the Pittsburgh Fringe had a strong focus on identity,higlighting what it means to be human and to celebrate one’s individuality and identity. This performance celebrated the beloved art of Playback Theatre, eliminating the barrier between the actors and the audience to celebrate identity in both the ensemble and the audience themselves

For those unfamiliar with the work of Pittsburgh Playback, they brought the popular therapeutic art form Playback Theater to the Pittsburgh area founded in 1986 that celebrates community building and the human condition and identity. Playback Theater is an art form that gained popularity in 1976 that builds the bridge between live theater and social activism.

This performance started with an opening form introducing the ensemble through movement and speech, which led to the ensemble pulling members from the audience to tell their own stories around identity which were then played back for them via speech, and movement to recreate the story described.

The key to a successful performance of Playback Theater is facilitation and the ensemble of Pittsburgh Playback did this beautifully! The audience was given clear instructions about how the performance would run. Each ensemble member used their individual strengths whether it be acting, poetry percussion or dance to make each audience member who told stories feel valid and seen. We followed stories from audience members surrounding identity. The ensemble did a great job retelling these stories using percussion,spoken word, poetry, and vocals. The entire ensemble was kind and paid close attention to the stories of audience members.

I felt incredibly moved watching Pittsburgh Playback Theater handle the audience’s stories with care and kindness. Pittsburgh Playback really took advantage of the intimate space of Fringe Central. The audience felt safe and included for the entirety of the performance. Pittsburgh Playback really understands how to facilitate a good performance and use what is provided to their full advantage!

Overall I recommend this piece especially to those who are interested in the stories of others and the human experience. Pittsburgh Playback showed us that theater is medium that can be used to capture every experience and that everyone has a story worth sharing no matter how small it appears.