"A Playback for the Decade,“ a 6 Figures Performance took place on Tuesday, Jan. 28, in EMU’s Quirk Sponberg Theatre - 107 Lab Theatre. Conducted by Dr. Anita Rich, students performed a series of improvisational skits.
After taking their seats in the theatre, guests were greeted by Rich, the head of EMU’s 6 Figures Playback group, who prepared to introduce herself and give a welcoming hello. EMU’s 6 Figures Playback group has existed for over a decade.
The performance opened with drumming music and proper introductions of both the group as a whole and each individual member, who would then say their name and one thing they would like to pursue this year, keeping with the theme, “A Playback for the Decade."
“We are a Playback Theatre company, so what's going to happen is we are going to ask for your help. We are all about honoring stories. We share stories to connect with each other. To share, sometimes they are funny. To make sense of things, to figure things out. We tell them to make bonds, to make community. We are a company who is eventually going to invite people to tell stories, and then we improvization, perform or play them back to you; hopefully with artistry and always with respect,” Rich said.
When the time came, the audience was told to sit back and relax. Rich asked guests, “How are you feeling tonight?” in search of one word responses. This allowed for actors to create the feeling through movements, words and actions. Each display of emotions lasted about 30 seconds to a minute. These short skits of feelings are known as short forms.
After a handful of short forms, the group continued to demonstrate their talent by performing long forms. Long forms consist of acting out a story or memory. By volunteering, an audience member could become the teller and take a place upon the stage. Rich played the conductor. She acted as a mediator between the performers and the tellers. The teller was also responsible for guiding the audience through their story and choosing actors, off the blocks on which they sat, to act out individuals parts of the story. The actors had the option to play both humans and inanimate objects bringing humor and peace to the stories through original and unexpected roles such as a hairdryer.
Rich emphasized the goal of creativity and collaboration, “We try to look for a red thread that ties our stories together, but the biggest thing is that they are trying to create a theater of neighbors not strangers. Getting people connected and being in the moment.”
One participant, Maribel Bustamante, described her experiences in the Playback Theatre, “I am new at it, so I don't have very much experience, but it has definitely helped with my confidence. I was still a little bit shy, but it has been helping me slowly, but surely come out of my shell more. I was a little nervous for the show because it was the first time. I had ever done something like this, but it was a lot of fun.”
Lindsey Brown, armed with three years of experience, extends an invitation to anyone interested.
“Come to our open call if you're a performance art major, or a communication major it will help you work on those skills, but if you're not a performer or you're thinking about it will just help you work personal communication skills maybe getting out there if you are not used to it. It might not even be something you know you're good at,” Brown said.
Open calls will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 4. For more information visit their Facebook page here or check out their Instagram @6figuresplayback.