Interplay 2014. pub



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Interplay XIX-2014
Page 15 


Playback with young people in a psychiatric centre
continued from page 15
 
As for the kids who get chosen as actors, it is an incredible opportunity to get to express emotions that may be con-
nected to their own stories (actors don't get chosen for no reason, something is recognised- which the kids actually 
easily say : « I chose you for that character because I believe you can do it well »). It is amazing to observe that 
these kids who have a hard time showing empathy in their everyday life become so eager at listening deeply to the 
stories and enacting with as much respect as they can. It never happened that a child became foolish at an other 
child's story even when they felt it may have not been really true or when it was loaded with difficult emotions. It is 
also for those who have undergone trauma a way to experience other maneers to react to situations (desensitize). 
Those kids get to work on recognising, differenciating, naming their emotions which might be more difficult to do for 
oneself (We ask to « stop on action » to clarify what the character may be thinking). Doing it for the artistic process 
and serving the narrator, the actor-kids are actually working hard on creating connections between words, emotions, 
images, sensations, and actions. They are fully experiencing the present moment, building connections between 
past events and what they are going through and therefore allowing possibility for future. 
We didn't think of the use of playback theater for traumatic issues at first, but spontaneously when we said it 
was a place where the kids could tell their stories so as not to feel lonely anymore and be able to work through them
colleagues adressed us younsters that had undergone quite dramatic real life stories. Indeed, the form of playback 
theater offers that a real story is told while doing as if it was « only anybody's story » allowing a safe distance bet-
ween the owner of the story and the character that enacts on stage. The traumatic story becomes an object that is 
differenciated form the person, it is a « story that has happened » but that can be handled by others who show they 
can understand some of it since they can play it. Maybe the esthetic frame of theater was also needed by the healers 
so that the secondary effects of the stories would be contained in the artistic setting. The beginning and ending ri-
tuals seem helpful to differenciate the real and imaginary scene but also to introduce the story to the community and 
transform traumatic destructive potentials in possible creative ressources for the young and ourselves to learn from. 
Kathleen OLIVIER—kathleenoliv@yahoo.com—is a french dramatherapist, clinical psychologist expert in neuropsychology and writer. She 
is working in a psychiatric institution where families and kids are offered psychological support. She discovered Playback theater when she 
was a student in Montreal and has been directing and playing in her playback troup Histoires de Voirs in Perpignan- south of France - for the 
past 7 years. Facebook Histoires de Voir ; www.créathérapie.org 

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