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Inside Out Playback Theater

Inviting dialogue & building community through interactive storytelling.

“Inside Out Playback Theater” at EMU is a space for audience members to offer personal stories, then witness them come to life in improvised music, movement and dialogue.

What is playback theater?

Here’s EMU theater professor Heidi Winters Vogel says:

This is applied theater, not theater for entertainment. It’s theater for social justice and understanding. A lot of people don’t understand playback theater until they attend a storytelling session, and when they see it, they realize the big possibilities.”

EMU faculty and recent graduates witnessed the potential for healing dialogue through playback theater during the May 2014 Summer Peacebuilding Institute, where participants shared personal and painful moments in the interest of healing.

In 2018-19, Inside Out is expanding their innovative programming with racial healing and marginalized populations, thanks to the generous support of The JustPax Fund and the Catalyst Initiative.

Unpacking cross-cultural study abroad

Playback theater such as this is particularly vital to students who have studied internationally or within another culture to share their feelings of discovery, culture shock and isolation, and to ease re-entry. Connections are forged as stories are played back.

Inside Out Playback Theater at EMULearn more about how EMU professors and students are using playback theater on campus and within an international peacebuilding context.

Inside Out events, workshops or trainings

If you are interested in hosting an Inside Out Playback Theater event, workshop and/or training to build your own playback group, please contact us to develop a program to meet your needs. Call the main desk of the theater department at 540-432-4360 or email

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