Anastasya Vorobyova is heavily involved in playback initiatives within Russia and across east and west Europe. Leader of Moscow Children’s Playback, she is also a member of more than one of Moscow’s Playback Theatre groups and the Director of Playback Studio. More recently she has founded a new project in Russia—Queer Theatre. Each year she hosts the annual Inter- national Playback Summer Camp in the Crimea. Avorobyova6@gmail.com Page 11 she told us a really troubling story that happened to her at school not long ago. It was the first traumatic story for us! Young actors performed that story in the form of chorus. And it was a true miracle!
This paper reports on the implementation of playback theatre within the drama program at Sidwell Friends Middle School. Tim wrote this paper for a doctoral assignment comparing and contrasting two authors: George Fox and Jonathan Fox. Originally published in Friends Journal (2012), it is now being republished here in the hope that it makes a contribution to the discussion on playback theatre and young people. It is Tim’s wishes in this second publishing of the piece that Jo Salas is also recognised. He states: “I wish to acknowledge the contributions of Jo Salas, who I neglected to include as a co-founder of Playback, in the original. It is also worthy to note that George Fox could not have founded Quakerism if it not for his wife Margaret Fell, who trod the journey arm-in-arm with her spouse, just like darling Jo.” Original source citation: Reagan, T. (2012). The incredible misters Fox: My story of their impact on storytelling and story lis- tening at Sidwell Friends School. Friends Journal.
I’ve been teaching drama at Sidwell Friends Middle School in Washington, D.C. since 1995. Like my brother and sister edu-
cators at other Friends schools, I am guided by the Quaker belief in that of God in each person. Sidwell prides itself on
encouraging the community to show kindness and respect toward one another (letting their lives speak) as a way to recog-
nize and nurture each person's unique gifts.
This was a great sales pitch from the school when I interviewed for a position there. Reality, however, set in soon after I
said that "each of us has an inner teacher that is an arbiter of truth, and each of us needs the give-and-take of commu-
nity in order to hear that inner teacher speak." Six years after my foray into the world of Quaker education, several col-
leagues and I accessed our inner teachers to collaborate in creating a new required course for seventh graders called
Quakerism and the Arts. This is our story.
As most of us know, George Fox (G. Fox) founded Quakerism in the mid-1650s. Many may not know, however, that an-
other Mr. Fox, Jonathan Fox (J. Fox), founded Playback Theatre in the mid-1970s. Both Foxes were trendsetters who
bravely asserted their convictions, giving communities permission to access and learn from that still, small voice within. In
the case of G. Fox, the inner teacher, or Inner Spirit, was found during the traditional silent gathering of Quaker meeting
for worship, perhaps when someone offered an inspired message or prayer. For J. Fox, the moment came during a Play-
back performance when an audience member revealed his inner voice while sharing a personal story to be replayed by a
company of actors. In both situations, personal stories are told and heard in community. Despite being separated by more
than 300 years, G. Fox and J. Fox are connected by their having effected meaningful and compassionate human contact
through storytelling and story listening. They are the incredible Misters Fox, and they both had a great impact on my work
as a drama educator at Sidwell Friends School.
Those of us familiar with Quaker history know that G. Fox began the religious movement of Quakerism as a response to
the inefficacy of the outward forms of rituals, creeds, hymns, sacred books, and sermons of the Church of England. Some
theater history buffs may also know that J. Fox started Playback in response to his distaste for "the competitive, sometimes
narcissistic aspects of the world of the mainstream theatre with the experimental and avant-garde theatre movements of
the early 1970s." The rebellions of both men were reactions to the oppressive restraints imposed upon their freedom to
worship or to perform. G. Fox thought the dogma of religion in the 1660s had become oppressive and should not be
forced upon people; J. Fox had an aversion to the controlled and constructed environment of literary theater. Both were
determined to bring the world away from rudimentary rules and dogma, which they felt were in vain.
As my colleagues and I put the pieces of the course
privilege of knowing (I trained with him at the Center for Playback Theatre in New York). I learned of his connections to
Quaker education and asked him to write a letter of support for our curriculum project. J. Fox candidly wrote:
The lessons I learned in monthly meeting as an elementary school student at Brooklyn Friends School never left me and
contributed in no small way
the development of Playback Theatre. In Playback Theatre, the stories emerge from si-
lence; instead of a text delivered by an expert, the text comes from the community; no one is privileged above anyone
else; we value listening;