Cheryl Alexander was first captivated by impro theatre in 2000 and loves its spontaneity and playfulness. Originally a member of Blue Mountains Playback Theatre Company, Cheryl weaves the expressive and playful nature of playback into her work with teams and groups to create connection and understanding. “There is an underlying commonality that unites us through our life experiences and when these are brought to life on the playback stage, it validates the teller and touches the audience”.
Julia Dilli has been interested in theatre and acting from a very young age and has built upon this through academic and artistic development. She has a Grad. Dip. (Secondary Ed.) in Drama and English. Artistically Julia has trained with Peter Hall at the Drama Action Centre and with numerous other teachers over the years. Julia was a 1997 founding member of PaperBag PlayBack Theatre. She also works as a systematic therapist/counsellor and group facilitator for a not-for-profit organisation and in private practice. Julia is currently undertaking studies in psychodrama.
Glenda Goldberg trained with Playback Theatre groups in Sydney, Switzerland and Germany after dabbling in acting and Theatresports®. She finds Playback an exhilarating form of theatre because it is always surprising and often profoundly moving. She enjoys the opportunity that Playback provides to share stories, reinterpret them and recognise one’s own experiences in the lives of others.
Anne McGrath’s life is woven through by a love of theatre. She trained in scripted theatre techniques at the Drama Studio Newtown, and then with Peter Hall at the Drama Action Centre in improvisational theatre forms – this is where she became passionate about Playback Theatre and Commedia Dell’ Arte. Anne was an early member of Paperbag Playback (now Out of the Box). In 1999 Anne was the founding member of ‘Impromptu Theatrix’ which provided training in improvisational theatre forms and gave Anne an opportunity to further explore Commedia Dell’Arte. Anne has used improvisational theatre techniques in her work in schools to assist students to build confidence and communication skills.
Peter O’Connell has worked for over three decades as a facilitator with both community and corporate groups. Originally joining Hunter Region Playback Theatre in 2000 he has remained an active playback performer and conductor ever since. Peter has trained with the Australian Institute of Group Leaders (AIGL), and is an adherent to the principles and practices of Open Space Technology. During his Alternative Dispute Resolution studies Peter explored the relationship between conflict resolution, group processes, and action methods including Playback. “For me Playback offers an elegant and powerful way for groups to gain a greater appreciation of what it is that they share in common“.
Liz O’Neill enjoys story telling through playback and was in the Canberra company from 2011-2016. In 2019 she reconnected with the colourful form through the Australasian School of Playback Theatre. She embraces honouring people’s experiences through narrations of many tempos. Just as Louis Armstrong says “jazz is playing life”, playback replays life changing moments. Prior to playback Liz dabbled in a small community Shakespeare performance, acting courses and school performances. Working professionally in counselling, she appreciates the transformation of the story telling process and finds her life enriched by all things theatre.
Shel (Shirley) O’Toole is a passionate Arts for Health practitioner with many years’ experience in Playback Theatre. She has been a member of Hunter Valley, Brisbane, Hobart and Darwin Playback Theatre companies before joining Out of the Box in 2018. Shel has performed as musician, actor and conductor and enjoyed each role. She is also an accomplished singer/songwriter and poet and has performed at festivals, clubs and pubs across Australia. She directed and performed in two collaborative shows that gave voice to women’s issues and believes that art is food for the soul.
Jackie Rawlings started dancing at the age of 3 and by 15 was teaching dance and movement. Jackie is now Choreographer, Principal Adjudicator, Teacher Trainer and Music Producer for the Australian BjP School of Physical Culture. When she came to Playback Theatre in 2004 Jackie discovered the ancient tradition of telling and performing stories as a means of cultural sharing and is still passionate about transforming people’s life stories into theatre. “To play back someone’s story is to give them a gift – to hold up a mirror and show them what their life looks like from the other side”.
Sally Swain discovered Playback Theatre, once upon a time, at a 40th birthday party. She was instantly enchanted. Playback seemed a natural extension of childlike imaginary play filtered through embodied adult heart wisdom. In 1997, Sally initiated Paper Bag Playback (now Out of the Box) to affirm and be affirmed, share stories and build community. As a long-time artist, art therapist and creativity coach, Sally loves simultaneously expressing creativity whilst serving others. She sees Playback as spiritual practice, centering on deep listening, authentic expression, trusting the process and knowing you don’t have to do it all yourself. She is still enchanted.
Warren Werksman is a psychologist who cannot read your mind let alone his own. He tries to smile at himself though this has caused many cracks in the mirror. Nevertheless, he persists with wellness affirmations and like a limpet, clings to life. In his conducting and acting he has a calm presence that will put you at ease. And he might just reveal that thing you were trying so hard to say or entertain you with some cheeky ‘clownfulness’. Warren has a perceptive ear and warm heart and will help tie you to the playback thread that binds us all together.