February 2022

Bonface Beti, Tarryn Lee & The AFRICA CONNECT Group

Playback Theatre in Africa

Session Synopsis

This is one of ITAC Collaborative's monthly Think Tank sessions, and this month we focus on Playback Theatre in Africa hosted by the AFRICA CONNECT Group. This group is an IPTN (International Playback Theatre Network) Africa Region Project that brings Playbackers from Africa together for the purpose of connecting and exchanging lived experiences through the modality Playback Theatre. 

Here this ITAC Think Tank helps Teaching Artists from the Global North to witness a Global South online applied theatre intervention through stories of, and from, Africa. Even, ITAC participants were invited to watch part of the AFRICA CONNECT Group rehearsal live where they discussed their learning, goals and ambitions for this practice. 

The past two years brought even more challenges for Playback practitioners in Africa to meet on African soil in a shared space. This disconnection in the field of Playback practice in Africa sparked a conversation between Bonface Beti from Nairobi, Kenya and Tarryn Lee from Johannesburg, South Africa to create a platform to CONNECT AFRICA through Playback story sharing and story listening.

 

Playback theatre is a non-scripted form of performance that invites the audience to share real life moments and stories through a supportive and guided process which in turn are transformed into theatre. This process of story sharing and story playing becomes a way of creating community dialogue around specific socio-political contexts, and the Playback process shapes itself according to the needs of a specific audience.

 

Tarryn Lee, who explored conversations from Bonface Beti, curated and led a 4-week AFRICA CONNECT GROUP ONLINE PROJECT experiment. The Playback community involved comprises Playbackers from Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. The group is small but committed to continuing to grow this community dialogue space and hopes to expand and include more Africa Playback practitioners as accessibility and equity are important to them. However, are complex socio-economic challenges faced by Africa today specifically in relation to online projects and intentions, which regularly restrict the continuity of the project’s work.

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