Storytelling on Screen: An Online Playback Theatre Archive and Guidebook


Playback Theatre is a form of community-centered storytelling theater where the audience tells stories, which are then reflected by a company of actors and musicians. Storytelling on Screen: An Online Playback Theatre Archive and Guidebook is an open education resource consisting of a collection of full-length recordings of online Playback Theatre performances, and a 55-page explanatory guidebook. The guidebook, featuring a foreword by Playback Theatre co-founder, Jo Salas, explains the adaptation to online performances and some of the key concepts, roles, and forms involved in online Playback Theatre. The resource as a whole is suitable for a wide range of theatre students in courses such as applied theatre, theatre for social justice, improvisation, theatre appreciation, or acting. The guidebook contains hyperlinks to specific sections of the archive where students can see a given form or concept in action, allowing for a comparison of how different companies approach a given form.

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Table of contents

  • Frontmatter
  • Foreword by Jo Salas
  • Acknowledgments
  • Editor Biographies
  • How to Use the Archive and Guidebook
  • Introduction to the Project

I. The Archive

  • Performance #1 World Playback Theatre: "New Beginnings"
  • Performance #2 The Ume Group: “Voices in the Stone” at Virginia Tech
  • Performance #3 Pangea Playback Theatre: “What Now?”

II. The Guidebook
What is Playback Theatre?

  • Roles
  • Concepts
  • Forms
  • Further Reading, Listening, and Viewing

Appendix I: Adding to this Archive
Appendix II: Additional Viewing

The following performances included in The Archive are linked within The Guidebook and are also available in VTechWorks and YouTube.

Performance #1 World Playback Theatre: "New Beginnings"
Full Recording on YouTube Full Recording & Transcript on VTechWorks

Performance #2 The Ume Group: “Voices in the Stone” at Virginia Tech
Full Recording on YouTube Full Recording & Transcript on VTechWorks

Performance #3 Pangea Playback Theatre: “What Now?”
Full Recording on YouTube Full Recording & Transcript on VTechWorks

Publication information ISBN (PDF): 978-1-949373-66-0

Suggested citation
Rosin, Jordan, and Heidi Winters Vogel. 2021. Storytelling on Screen: An Online Playback Theatre Archive and Guidebook. Blacksburg, VA: Virginia Tech Publishing. Licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Peer review
This book and video archive have undergone external peer review.

Accessibility statement
Virginia Tech Publishing is committed to making its publications accessible in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The PDF of this guide is tagged structurally. Transcriptions for videos included in the archive are available on the left-hand side of this description, and with their respective videos at,, and

Editor biographies
Jordan Rosin (he & they) is a director/choreographer, actor-creator, and researcher/teacher, specializing in applied and ensemble-devised physical theatres. He is a Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of the New York City–based physical theatre ensemble, The Ume Group and is a frequent collaborator with the butoh/physical theatre company 連翹奏 Ren Gyo Soh. They hold a BFA in Drama from Syracuse University and an MFA in Ensemble Based Physical Theatre from Dell’Arte International, where their practice-as-research thesis explored the intersection of clown and melodrama. During the creation of this archive and guidebook, Jordan was a 2019–2021 Post-MFA Teaching Fellow in the Department of Theatre and Cinema at Virginia Tech. / @jordanrosin

Heidi Winters Vogel (she/her) is a director, performer, educator, and activist. She is a member of the theater faculty at Wabash College in Indiana, teaching acting, improvisation, dramaturgy, and socially engaged theatre. Heidi co-founded Inside Out Playback Theatre over a decade ago in Virginia and continues to perform with World Playback Theatre, Playback for People, and Thursday Zoomers. Heidi’s work with her students, “Building Participatory Theatre in a Time of COVID” was published in Routledge’s Undergraduate Research in Theatre. She is an accredited Playback Theatre trainer, continues studies in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, and is an associate member of Stage Directors and Choreographers. Heidi serves on the Advisory Council for Playback North America and serves in regional leadership for the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival.

Sammy Lebron (he/him) is a student, aspiring actor, and lover of all things involving storytelling. He provided editorial assistance for this volume. As of the fall semester of 2021, Sammy will be entering his fourth and final year at Wabash College. He is currently studying toward a BFA in Theater. He has been cast in several mainstage productions, compiled data for the costume department, interned with companies such as Crossroads Repertory Theatre and the Sugar Creek Players’ Vanity Theatre, and was nominated to compete for the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival’s Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship.

This work was made possible in part by a commission from the Virginia Tech History Council and funding from the University Libraries at Virginia Tech’s Open Education Initiative Faculty Grant program, Virginia Tech Publishing, and Wabash College’s Theater Department Summer Internship Program.

The stories in these performance archives are the property of their tellers. The recordings of them were released by their owners under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 license.

Contributing companies
Pangea Playback Theatre
The Ume Group, Jordan Rosin and Keelie Sheridan, Co-Artistic Directors
World Playback Theatre

Will C., Sarah Monnerat, Rosey, Autumn, Mary Johnson, Dorina Harangus, Cherae Hailey, David B., Jeremie Day-Gilder, Randy Mulder, Matteo, Karen McClain Kiefer, Warren, Kathy, Vicki, Steve Nash, Liza Zagryazhskaya, Sammy, Roberta Gore, LK, Florence Yoo, Felicitator, Rethabile Molatela, Danny, Bernard, Clarissa, Lou van Laake, Moe, Jo Salas, Joan Lipkin, Sheila Donio, Ricardo Pérez González, Andrea Sandoval, Ping, Joe, Federico Mallet, Linda Steuernagel, Joan, Michael, Karen McClain Kiefer, Joerge, J Fox, Paul McIsaac, Agnes, Nir, Rena, Judy Dolmatch, René, Lisa Schrauf, Suri, Joyce Lu, Andrew, Alejandro Bastien, Natasha, Pi, Dorothy, Ben Rivers, Erica, Diana G., Mary Elizabeth Wheeler, Tanya, Marcin, Sinikka, Judy, Debe Edden, Elsa Childs, Erica, Devrim Nicoló Turletti, Kathleen Sills, Sheila Donio, Judy Freed, Diana Greenhut, Roni Alperin, Noha Arafa, Wavey Davey, Fish, Heidi Jablonski, Chris Panzica, Rick Sanford, Thulasi, Tom Tillar, David Vogel (he/him), Katharina Witte, and various others who prefer to remain anonymous and/or whose names appear only in the recordings.

Editorial / Production
Cover image: The Race(rs) © 2021, Paul Haesemeyer. CC BY NC SA 4.0
Cover and interior design: Kindred Grey
Managing Editor and layout: Anita Walz



playback, theatre