Sunday, November 11, 2018

Stories of Hope—Playback Theater—SW Portland




“Hope Springs Eternal”

    This theater company only plays for one performance, about four times a year.  The space they use is called Resound NW, 1532 SW Jefferson St.  It’s a large room and was standing-room only for last night’s show, so I would advise getting there early.  Their next event is January 26th.  For more information, go to their site at http://www.playbacktheaterpdx.com

    In these troubled times, we truly do need that “H” word in our vocabulary.  And how to accomplish that?  Try, in essence, what this troupe does…as Harper Lee would exclaim, through Atticus Fitch, you need to put on another’s shoes and walk around in them a bit to understand other points of view.  This group is part Improv team and story-tellers, part cathartic and part therapeutic, in approach.  Their main thrust is to take stories from the audience, usually around a specific theme (in this case, Hope) and act out, or playback, your story.  Intriguing idea.

    A side note, I myself, in my early days of theatre at, at what was then called Southern Oregon College in Ashland, had a space on campus, run by a minister, in which a band of actors did Improv comedy in his “church,” a coffee house called, The Key (as he felt the key to harmony was dialogue).  It was a great training ground for an actor, as we collected ideas or words from the audience and then performed skits around them (such as they do here, in essence).  Afterwards, we would mingle with the audience and had some pretty healthy discussions about all sorts of topics.  What we all came away with, I believe, was a better understanding of ourselves and our neighbors.

    In this incarnation, a very talented troupe of 3 women and 1 male, an emcee/host and a guitarist, were able to successfully entertain, enlighten and educate a group of relative strangers to awaken to a world out there, that is better when shared with others, and then concerns we personally have might not seem so overwhelming.  I wish I could give you the names of the people involved but there was no printed material passed out so you’ll just have to go to their sits for that information.

   I, myself, have mentored young girls in theatre by trying to give them motivation and direction, since the educational system, at large, seems to de-emphasize the Arts in schools.  (The best program around this area to train youth in the performing arts, I believe, is Oregon Children’s Theatre and its classes, overseen by Dani Baldwin, Education Director).  “Attention must be paid…” if our Youth are expected to make things better, in this battered world we are leaving them.  And events, like Playback produces, are seeking out artistic avenues for expressions of ourselves and the young, might just tip the scale from behaving like lemmings, to leading the charge to positive possibilities for all.

   You owe it to yourselves to experience their wares and “mine the unknown.” If you do choose to participate, tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

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