Playback Intensive Training, Fall 2019

What is this training about?

An intensive, immersive, experiential training in Playback Theater.

What can I expect from this training?

You will learn about the history and rich network of Playback Theater, the language and fundamentals of how it works, and have the opportunity to explore the roles of conductor, musician, and actor with most of our training time together being spent in active participation. You will have resources and tools to bring to your own communities and settings. You can expect that the trainer will create and hold a playful space to safely take risks and give and receive critical feedback that builds skills and competence. You can expect that 1-2 company members of Playback Theater PDX might attend parts of the training at any given time and with notice to you.

Am I a good candidate for this training?

This training is perfect for anyone who is interested in Playback, improvisation and theater, and has a yearning to play actively with others. Beginners and more advanced players are welcome. If you are someone interested in joining the company, this training is the required first step. Because of the personal nature of the form, you will reap the most benefit and be of most benefit to your fellow players if you can hold space for others, share vulnerably and appropriately, have a strong sense of your own boundaries and be able to gently and clearly make them known if need be, can give and take feedback, and can agree to hold sacred the space we create. If you would like to explore your suitability, you are welcome to reach out and I’d be happy to do so with you.

Who is leading the training?

The training will be led by Sara McWilliams, artistic and managing director of Playback Theater PDX. She has been leading the company for the past three years and has been a member for over nine. She is a returning guest instructor at Pacific University leading workshops in Playback Theater, and enjoys furthering her experience, education, and love of the form through continuing to perform and connect with Playbackers everywhere. Professionally, She has a masters in social work and is a therapist working towards clinical licensure. She is completing requirements to become an RDT, or registered drama therapist, and has a BFA in theater and acting. As mentioned, 1-2 company members of Playback Theater PDX might attend parts of the training with notice to you.

What are the brass tacks? How do I sign up?

The training will be held at Resound NW, the performing venue of Playback Theater PDX. Resound NW is located at 1532 SW Jefferson St. Portland, OR 97201. This training will take place over four consecutive Sundays from 10am – 12:30pm with a 15 minute break in each session. The training dates will be 10/13, 10/20, 10/27, & 11/3. The cost is sliding scale, $100 – $150; choose your entry point into this training without query. Minimum capacity will be 8 participants, and maximum capacity will be 12 participants. If there are not at least 8 participants signed up by the first training date, the dates will be moved to another time frame on the calendar. To sign up, send an email to with your interest and more details will be shared. Included in the cost of the training is two tickets to any show in our upcoming season.

With a commitment to transparency, the motivations for offering this training are to fulfill an ask made by you and others over the years, to generate income to further the activities of Playback Theater PDX, to increase capacities for communities to share and hold their stories, to strengthen and diversify the skills of the director, and to create an entry point for those interested in joining the company. Please join!

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Playback Theater of Portland, OR is presenting an innovative, engaging, and highly effective program called Dare to Act! This program is designed for youth ages 6-16 to combat bullying and violence in all forms in their school and community. Click the button on the right to donate to the program today.

Curious about what a Playback Theater performance is like?

Check out this video from one of our recent performances

What is Playback, you ask?

Playback theater is an improvisational form of theater whereby audience members tell stories from their lives and watch them enacted on the spot by actors and musicians. Playback is a vehicle not only of personal expression, but a way to create a future – It is powerful and creative, allowing diverse voices to be heard and respected. For more info, click here.

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