Category Archives: Muse and News

Open Rehearsals – First Wednesdays

You are invited on the first Wednesday of each month to join the River Crossing Playback ensemble in a free Open Rehearsal.

Come, watch or join in on any Wednesday, 7-9 pm at the Belmont Theatre, 27 South Belmont Ave in York, Pennsylvania (formerly York Little Theatre). The two hours, if you choose to participate fully, would include:

  • Physical warm-up or game to “get out of our heads” and wake up our creative improvisational capacities;
  • An embodied game or exercise to develop some aspect of improvisational skillset: listening, responding, moving, vocalizing, ensemble contact and more;
  • “Checking In” to say what’s “on top” for each of us and have that acknowledged using a responsive Playback theatre form;
  • Learning and using various Playback theatre forms to respond to the essence and deep notes of each check-in and story told.

The Open Rehearsal is a new offering in South Central PA to open the circle of the unique embodied process of Playback Theatre to strengthen our community connections, build skills for deep listening and enhance our innate capacity to create beauty in each moment.

Simply RSVP to rivercrossing@jubileearts.net by the prior Tuesday (24 hours) or call (717) 382-8292 with questions.

Arrive between 6:50-7 PM. Bring a water bottle. Wear loose-fitting clothes. See you there?

Exploring the Essence - and its ripple effects

Exploring the Essence: A Playback Theatre Retreat for Growth & Change

January 8-10, 2016

Camp Eder Retreat Center  (near Gettysburg, PA)

Friday, January 8 at 7 pm — Sunday, January 10 at 2 pm.
Hosted by River Crossing Playback Theatre
Facilitated by Deb Scott, Asheville, North Carolina

Exploring the Essence is a weekend to dig into the deeper notes of the stories all around us using Playback Theatre and related improvisational methods. The retreat will help us listen to stories more deeply and respond to them authentically with improvisational skill. It provides an intensive experience with Playback Theatre core skills and long-form stories focusing on both personal empowerment and social change.

Deb Scott - right - with Shawn at the 2014 Playback Theatre Leadership Course

Deb Scott – right – with classmate Sean Cai at the 2014 Playback Theatre Leadership Course

Deb Scott, M.A. is an accredited trainer and graduate of the Centre for Playback Theatre (New Paltz, NY). She began Playback with Asheville Playback Theatre in 1994 and was Artistic Director for 18 years. She studied acting with Stella Adler in New York City, working for 15 years as an actor and designer. Deb currently works as a coach with low income individuals who are re-writing their stories toward self-reliance. She also teaches open monthly Playback Theatre workshops and is most interested in how sharing stories leads to empowerment.

Is It for You?

Want to learn, grow, refresh, sharpen your improvisational artistry? The weekend welcomes people with all levels of experience with Playback Theatre, though some prior training is recommended. Hosted by members of River Crossing Playback Theatre, it is designed to equip you with broadly applicable tools to listen and respond to stories more deeply and sensitively.

What’ll we do?

  • Friday will open with Playback Theatre and interactive games to warm us up and build trust in our group
  • Saturday will take an intensive look at deepening our skills and our to work in a Playback Theatre troupe
  • Sunday will close with time to reflect, celebrate and integrate what we’ve learned for our personal growth and service to the community
Participants from the 2015 training-retreat, Playing with Privilege

Participants from the 2015 training-retreat, Playing with Privilege

How much?

$175 is the standard discount, $195 the full price (institutional rate). Includes dynamic leadership, cozy lodging and prepared meals in a newly rebuilt lodge in wooded South Central Pennsylvania. Sleeping accommodations are in two shared bunkrooms.

We strive to make this retreat affordable and appreciate your honest self-assessment of how much you can afford. If you would like to attend but cannot afford the discount rate, contact us to arrange a scholarship or work-share.

Because the weekend increases in intensity and requires increasing trust, we ask that you stay for the duration.

How to get there?

Camp Eder is located at 914 Mount Hope Road, Fairfield, PA 17320. (1.5 hours drive from Washington, DC and 2.5 hours from Philadelphia.) Members of River Crossing may be able to pick you up at bus stations in Gettysburg or York or train stations in Lancaster or Harrisburg; please request by Jan. 2nd.

How to register?

Reserve your spot online below or send a check payable to Jubilee Arts to 5075 Admire Road, Thomasville, PA 17364.  Please include: 1) Your name, 2) Your email and address, 3) Your lodging preference (male or female bunkroom), 4) Any dietary or other preferences/ restrictions. Space is limited so register ASAP!


Registration Options
Weekend Lodging
Your Name
Special dietary, other needs



PA Council on the Arts logo
This project is supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Questions?  Contact the registrar, Carol Stowell, stowellcarol@gmail.com or 717-292-0708.

We Belong Workshop: Intro to Community-Building Improvisation

Saturday, March 14, 2015
9 AM – 4 PM
York Friends (Quaker) Meetinghouse
135 W Philadelphia St, York, PA

Hosted by River Crossing Playback Theatre

Learn an improvisational theatre that plays back the deeper notes of stories and bridges divisions in our community.

River Crossing Playback Theatre at a community performance in Gettysburg 2011 - Dessylyn Arnold Photography

River Crossing Playback Theatre in Gettysburg 2011 – Dessylyn Arnold Photography

What does it mean to belong? Where in our community do we feel belonging—and where do we miss it? You will explore these questions with other community-minded participants using improvisational exercises that build skills for listening, communicating and transforming our stories. The workshop provides a basic training in Playback Theatre (further training would be required for performing) and a basis for a community performance-dialogue series in April, May and June. 

Register now via PayPal or send a check for $50 to Jubilee Arts, 320 E. Walnut St, Marietta, PA 17547. Scholarships available by contacting the registrar below. Register by Sunday, March 8 to guarantee your spot!


The workshop kicks off a second-Saturday dialogue-performance series this spring in partnership with the York YWCA, York Friends Meeting and Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York, We Belong, on:

Saturday, April 11 ~ York Central Market
Saturday, May 9 ~ Unitarian Universalist Church of York
Saturday, June 13 ~ York YWCA

Chris Fitz, a York native living in Marietta, PA, will lead the workshop’s progression of warm-ups, theatre games, interactive discussion and training in basic Playback Theatre techniques. Chris is the executive director of the Lancaster-based Center for Community Peacemaking and has practiced Playback Theatre and other interactive arts for more than ten years. He is a graduate of the international School of Playback Theatre based in New Paltz, New York.

PA Council on the Arts logo

This project is supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Questions?

Contact the registrar, colleen@jubileearts.net or at 717-747-1605.

We look forward to a fun and insight-filled workshop!

Playing with Privilege: A Playback Theatre Retreat for Community Change

January 2-4, 2015

Camp Eder (near Gettysburg, PA)

Friday, January 2 at 7 pm to Sunday, January 4 at 2 pm.
Hosted by River Crossing Playback Theatre

Who we are impacts our access to power and privilege…and it’s complicated. Our identities are made up of lots of aspects: age, race, gender, sex, class, and on and on. As Playbackers we can’t playback what we can’t see or understand in others or access in ourselves. Each identity is like a different lens and in this workshop we will be exploring these different lenses as tellers and performers, with the goal of making our playback work more inviting and affirming for all.

Workshops with River Crossing Playback Theatre

Who will be there?
River Crossing Playback Theatre members will host the weekend, designed to equip anyone having at least minimal Playback experience with broadly applicable tools to listen and play stories more deeply and sensitively.

Pamela Freeman and Sarah Halley, co-founders of Playback for Change in Philadelphia will provide facilitation and leadership
Pamela is a LCSW psychotherapist, trainer and activist. A gradute of the School of Playback Theatre, she is currently on the board of the Centre for Playback Theatre.
Sarah is a consultant, trainer and activist. She is a lead facilitator for the Whites Confronting Racism series at Training for Change and an artist-in-residence with the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts.

What’ll we do?

  • Friday will open with Playback Theatre and interactive games to warm us up and build trust in our group
  • Saturday will take an intensive look at the privilege in our own lives and our work in a Playback Theatre troupe
  • ​Sunday ​​will close with time to reflect, celebrate and integrate what we’ve learned toward a whole self and community

​How much?
$165 to $180. We strive to make this retreat affordable for everyone and appreciate your honest self-assessment of how much you can afford.
$165 is the standard discount. $180 the full price (institutional rate).

Includes food, cozy lodging and dynamic leadership in a newly rebuilt lodge in wooded Pennsylvania.
Sleeping accommodations are in two bunk rooms.
Because the weekend increases in intensity and requires increasing trust, we ask that you stay for the duration.

How to get there?
Camp Eder is located at 914 Mount Hope Road, Fairfield, PA 17320.
1.5 hours drive from Washington, DC and 2.5 hours from Philadelphia.
Members of River Crossing can pick you up at bus stations in Gettysburg or York or train stations in Lancaster or Harrisburg.

How to register?
Reserve your spot online below or send a check payable to Jubilee Arts to 320 East Walnut Street, Marietta, PA 17547.  Please include: 1) Your name, 2) Your email and address, 3) Your lodging preference (male or female bunk room), 4) Any dietary or other preferences/ restrictions. Space is limited so register asap!


Payment Options
Weekend Lodging
Your Name
Special dietary, other needs



Questions?  Contact the registrar, colleen@jubileearts.net or at 717-747-1605.

Passion for Music, Improvisation & Healing Community?

Jeremy Kiskaddin as the musician in the Healing York performance series (2008).

Jeremy Kiskaddin as the musician in the Healing York performance series (2008).

River Crossing Playback Theatre in Columbia, PA is seeking a playful multi-instrumental musician to join our community theatre ensemble. In Playback theatre performances, audience members share thoughts, feelings, memories and autobiographical accounts, then watch as a team of actors and musicians transform these experiences into improvised theatre pieces. Musician candidates must be skilled in improvisation, sensitive to tone and story, and should have a passion for community healing through performing arts. You can work with a different primary instruments (generally acoustic) but percussion experience and proficiency in a variety of instruments is particularly helpful. Being able to step into small acting roles a plus!

Contact shelly@rivercrossingplayback.org or 717-382-8292 to schedule an informal audition and orientation on an upcoming Wednesday evening rehearsal in Columbia, PA.

Where Have All the (Young) Men Gone?

The Challenge of Men doing Playback Theatre in North America:
A Workshop Case Study

By Chris Fitz, for the 2014 Centre for Playback Theatre Leadership Course. Quote with citation.

I didn’t know what exhausted me emotionally until that moment…I realized that the experience of being a soldier, with unlimited license for excess, excessive violence, excessive sex, was a blueprint for self-destruction. Because then I began to wake up to the idea that manhood, as passed on to me by my father, my scoutmaster, my gym instructor, my army sergeant, that vision of manhood was a blueprint for self-destruction and a lie, and that was a burden that I was no longer able to carry.

Utah Phillips, “The Violence Within” (1992)

Ned playing it back at Cafe Garth March 2014 

Preface

Where are the men?  This essay began with a practical and timely question.  The Playback Theatre company I founded in South Central Pennsylvania seven years ago is now finally thriving and growing with nine committed core members.  But apart from the musician and me, the rest were women.  Our troupe wasn’t alone in this dynamic.  Without a comprehensive survey, the majority of volunteer Playback Theatre troupes I know in North America seem to share this challenge.  Like Pete Seeger did after the US-Korean War in 1955, I find myself lamenting, “where have all the young men gone?”

Continue reading

Laughing to Live: what a few comedians can teach us

Chris at Play in River Side Stories and Playback Theatre - 2013

Seriously funny? Sometimes I’m confused too. Photo credit: Remi Crist

By Chris Fitz

The recent death of one of the funniest Americans of our time, Robin Williams, spurred me to release these words into the wild.  For my capstone course in Playback Theatre this year, I confronted a Creative Project of my choosing that was supposed to be “out of my comfort zone.”

So when you enjoy improvisation, what could be possibly out of your comfort zone? How about scripted theatre?  No, better:  how about scripted comedy?  The idea hit a funny bone that jerked me into saying, “yes” before I knew what I was getting into.

Continue reading

Going to Deeper Waters in 2014

For the second year, River Crossing Playback Theatre begins its season at Cafe Garth in Columbia, PA. This year though, we have a slate of public performances that touch on some key timely cultural issues.

Cintra and Colleen play a "Pair", two feelings in tension

Cintra and Colleen play a “Pair”, two feelings in tension

When i started exploring embodied improvisation seriously in 2004, it was to do exactly this–tackle the toughest questions and social strife in our world. As one of the discipline’s founders responded when i asked why we didn’t spend more energy teaching the whole world Playback Theatre, “well, yes, everyone can do Playback Theatre, but it’s hard to do well.”

I admit, in the beginning, i was impatient to tackle the toughest work. I got into interactive performing arts originally to work on “important” crises: bridging racism, transforming conflict, and healing from violence and trauma. You could call it, moth-to-flame syndrome. Or ambition. In the first story of the first Playback performance I conducted, a woman told a story about how her husband’s grandmother had been murdered and she’d found a measure of redemption in the most unlikely place–a movie theatre. While the freshly trained ensemble played it admirably, key pieces were missing, especially from my conducting. A respected performing artist in the audience, who’d experience the tragic loss of a family member, later shared with me that he was disappointed and didn’t see how such an art could hold this kind of trauma in a public space.

Ten years later, i continue to gain sobriety about the challenges we face when we apply improvisational forms to a community experiencing myriad potentially traumatic personal histories. On the other hand, i see how it works, how traumatic histories get re-written, re-arranged and re-formed into empowered stories. But whether i liked it or not, the collective training of our ensemble determined how far we could sustainably venture into such fast-moving waters.  And for much of our beginnings, River Crossing did not have a critical mass of continuous, highly trained players.  Not until recently.

Now River Crossing Playback has four conductors in six core troupe members, all with 2+ years of training. River Crossing Playback is stepping out or back into its native territory–the bridging of vital community gaps. Sure, we’ll still be funny…i hope. And sure, we will play whatever story is right for the moment. But our themes, playful in 2013, now venture into deeper–perhaps faster moving–waters.  Perhaps. Because while i still feel the gravity of these bigger issues, i’ve also been changed by the subtleties of this craft. I’ve come to realize that even seemingly benign stories about seemingly uncontroversial issues can hold a hidden potential for enlightening their teller–and the audience. Story by story, we find ourselves becoming more whole, present, alive. As a result, I’ve become more patient with our troupe’s progression toward “hard stories,” because the journey with all its “little” stories has already been profound.

So here’s our dip into the faster waters of 2014:

  • Saturday, March 15: Living Whole, Body & Soul, an exploration of our health and health care
  • Saturday, May 17: Crowds: the Ins and Outs, delving into the dynamics that allow for bullying and isolation
  • Saturday, September 20: Technology: Connected & Dis-Connected, exploring how relationships and community are affected by the online world
  • Saturday, November 15: Overstuffed, What is Enough? on drawing healthy boundaries in our culture of consumption

I hope you can join us for these performances. Lend your voice in what is becoming a community dialogue of concerned fellow river crossers–those willing to step outside their comfort-group and engage in an active telling of community in Central Pennsylvania.

The ensemble performs in “River Side Stories” on four Saturdays in 2014 at Cafe Garth, 22 South Second Street in historic Columbia, PA. A diverse Open Mic hour opens at 6 pm, and the Playback Theatre performance begins at 7 pm. $7 suggested donation at the door.

Click here for directions.

RiverSideStories2014-back

Learn more about Playback Theatre here…