Critical Conversations Project: Playback Theatre in Rural Colorado

Program Contact

Ondine Geary

ondine.geary@colorado.edu

303.492.4336

Critical Conversations Project (CCP) is a new project that employs well-developed, empirically tested Playback Theatre to facilitate conversations in areas of rural Colorado that are experiencing rapid and destabilizing change (social, economic or environmental).

Playback is a non-scripted, interactive theatre form in which audience members share true stories or experiences from their lives and see them “played back” by an ensemble of actors in ways that encourage insight across chasms of difference. Like a cross between a town hall meeting and an improvisational performance, one actor from the ensemble (“the conductor”) engages the audience in a collective conversation, asking questions that address the specific concerns of those who’ve gathered. The audience’s responses are played back on the spot in non-confrontational ways that build bridges, strengthen social bonds, and lift civic spirit. Practiced in more than 30 countries, Playback is used in projects from facilitating transitional justice in Afghanistan to repairing trust between community and police in Memphis. Empirical evidence has demonstrated its ability to improve relationships and facilitate reconciliation.

From January 8 to 12, 2020, members of CU Boulder’s Playback Ensemble piloted the Critical Conversations Project (CCP) in a four-day Playback residency in Paonia, Colorado. The pilot, designed in close collaboration with North Folk Valley Creative Coalition’s (NFVCC),  included two performances to targeted community partners, two listening sessions with community members and one workshop for local actors. The ensemble will return January 4 to 9, 2021, for a larger implementation, which will include three performances for targeted community partners, four days of workshops with local actors, and a community-wide performance which will include performances by community workshop participants.

  • Critical Conversations Project Pilot

    Location

    In Colorado

    Paonia

    Dates

    Ongoing

    Public or Private

    Public Program (open to the public)

    Program Fee

    No charge to attend/participate in activity or program

  • Critical Conversations Project: Crossroads

    Location

    In Colorado

    Paonia

    Dates

    1/8/2021 - 1/11/2021

    Public or Private

    Public Program (open to the public)

    Program Fee

    No charge to attend/participate in activity or program

  • Critical Conversations Project: Crossroads

    Location

    In Colorado

    Paonia

    Dates

    1/4/2021 - 1/9/2021

    Public or Private

    Private Program (by request only or for a specific audience or group)

    Program Fee

    No charge to attend/participate in activity or program

    Additional Info

    CU's Critical Conversations Project will be among the events taking place as part of a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition, Crossroads: Change in Rural America which draws on life in rural America to spark new conversation and ideas.

  • Critical Conversation Pilot Project

    Location

    In Colorado

    Paonia

    Dates

    1/8/2020 - 1/12/2020

    Public or Private

    Public Program (open to the public)

    Program Fee

    No charge to attend/participate in activity or program

Sponsoring Units

  • College of Arts & Sciences

  • Department of Theatre and Dance

Program Partners

  • NFVCC, a 501c3 nonprofit based in Paonia, is a membership organization serving the North Fork Valley (Paonia, Hotchkiss, and Crawford) in Delta County. NFVCC’s mission is to grow the local economy through Creative Industries and build community identity as a Creative District.

Audiences Served

  • Business
  • Children & Youth (outside school)
  • Families
  • General Public
  • Non-Profit Organization
  • Rural Communities
  • Senior Citizens
  • Service Club(s)