Playback Theatre was introduced at Eastern Michigan University more than a decade ago by Dr. Anita Rich, who serves as the director of EMU's 6 Figures Playback Theatre. In April, 2013 6 Figures Playback Theatre was awarded the EMU Dale Rice Award for Outstanding Community Partnership between EMU 6 Figures and Woodland Center Correctional Facility. Playback Theatre is an improvisational form of performance which invites audience members to share stories from their everyday lives; the company then spontaneously transforms them into theatre. The first Playback Theatre was founded in 1975 by Jonathan Fox and Jo Salas, and there are now Playback Theatre Groups throughout the world. Because of growing demand for training, Fox founded the School for Playback Theatre in 1993, which was renamed Centre for Playback Theatre in 1996. As Fox wrote, "Playback is about creating a theatre of neighbors not strangers." As a member of this innovative performance group, you'll develop and improve your techniques and skills to engage audiences in addressing and encouraging dialogue about important social issues. You will also have the opportunity to work with and for a range of audiences.
- Playback in the Community: Members of the Playback Theatre Company have performed and conducted workshops for numerous groups in southeast Michigan. Many of these were youth centered, like Ozone House, Girl Scouts, Gear Up, and EMU College for a Day, while others were for EMU events, including MLK Day, and organizations like the Intercultural Competency Institute and the Faculty Development Center. The company also travels, and has appeared in the Midwest, Arizona and Canada.
- Playback in Prison: Six Figures has made numerous appearances at area corrections facilities. Since 2010, the company has partnered with the former Huron Valley Men's Correctional Facility as well as the Woodland Correction Center (WCC). Dr. Rich and volunteers meet with the inmates and their music therapist biweekly during the school year. At what is known as Theatre Group, they engage the inmates in Playback, literature and other interactive theatre techniques. Twice during the school year, the men perform their work and the work of other authors at a program for the warden, corrections officers, administrators, therapists and staff.