2023 IPTN Conference Programme Call

Workshops, Home Groups, Panel Presentations and Performances

Roots and Routes of Playback Theatre

For the first time in Playback Theatre history, the global community will gather on the African continent in South Africa. The conference will take place in Muldersdrift near ‘The Cradle of Humankind’, an area recognised as the origin of humankind. This groundbreaking event will bring us back to our ancestral roots, the birthplace of where our human stories began. Together we will explore the Roots and Routes of Playback Theatre by tracing Playback Theatre’s origins, its present and its future.

Timeline for Applications:

  • Monday, 3rd October 2022 – Application Deadline
  • Friday, 25th November 2022 – Notification of Application Outcome

The Conference takes place from Monday 4th to Friday 8th December 2023.

Have any questions to ask the Conference Organizing Committee? 


The Webinar is focused toward answering your application-related questions and there are two time slots available:

IPTN Conference 2023 Webinar #1
When: Sep 19, 2022 09:00 AM Johannesburg (UTC/GMT +2 hours)

Johannesburg (South Africa) time zone is commonly referred to as SAST

Register in advance for this meeting:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

IPTN Conference 2023 Webinar #2

When: Sep 19, 2022 06:00 PM Johannesburg (UTC/GMT +2 hours)
Johannesburg (South Africa) time zone is commonly referred to as SAST

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

A limited, digital version of the conference will take place online for those unable to travel or take part in the live conference in South Africa. Details to be announced in December 2022.


The 2023 theme is an invitation to reflect on our Roots and Routes as holders of stories and storytellers. This conference taking place on South African soil is layered with a history of the wisdom of our earliest ancestors; it is also a land ravaged by the history of slavery, colonialism and apartheid. Each country in the Playback Theatre community has its own unspoken and challenging histories to make visible. The conference aims to open up explorations of these stories and Playback Theatres’ ability to stage them. We will excavate through layers of history and time during the conference to collectively find a sense of purpose in Playback Theatre – as a global community. A sense of purpose that roots itself in a deeper understanding of justice for all humanity and the earth.

 The first international gathering since COVID-19 will be an opportunity to rejoice and meet again. A privilege never again to be taken for granted, which invites us to ask crucial questions:  

  • What is Playback Theatre’s responsibility in embodying and understanding the substance of justice as a commitment to the communities we work with and the planet we live on? 
  •  What has the experience and impact of a global pandemic taught us? 


 The programme committee invites Workshops, Home Groups, Panel Presentations and Performances that relate to the following themes:

  • Explorations connected to an eco-social and political commentary on our collective roots/routes to story and ritual.
  • What does decolonising Playback Theatre look like? An invitation to  make visible, the un-cited roots by the West, visible again. Eg African oral traditions in relation to Playback Theatre.
  • How do we contribute to equity and social justice through how we practice, write about, and research Playback Theatre?  
  • New routes taking root in Playback Theatre. New practices of Playback, now and moving forward. (online, hybrid forms of Playback, new themes and applications of Playback Theatre)
  • Ways of bridging difficult histories\topics to inspire hope and action

Programme Content

 Below are descriptions of each part of the programme. After considering what option/s best suit you, follow the link below to submit your application. 

  1. Workshops: The conference presents attendees with spaces that embody and explore the practice and research that has taken place across the world. Practitioners and researchers are invited to submit practical workshop proposals that create a space for participants to step into an embodied space, even outside (weather dependent). Workshops are guided by a theme.
  2. Homegroups: are a space to create meaningful and focused connections to occur in a large conference gathering. Homegroups are three hours long and run over three days from 5-7 December, with the same group of participants. Practitioners apply to host a homegroup, revolving around a specific theme and approach to Playback Theatre. 
  3. Panel Presentations: In this space, practitioner-researchers are invited to present their publications/research/projects in Playback Theatre that have been produced from 2020 – 2023. These presentations will take place in a panel discussion format. New emerging voices in particular are invited to present. Each session will involve 3 panelists with a presentation time of 20 minutes. This will be followed by time for questions and discussions.
  4. Performances: These performances are an opportunity for the community to come together each evening to reflect on the day’s events, socialise, collaborate and inspire one another. Playback troupes around the world are invited to perform. This includes international groups who formed online during covid and may be performing together perhaps for the first time in a physical space. The mandate for those who perform in these evenings is to incorporate Community Wall reflections into the thematic focus of performances. Performances will run for 90 minutes and will take place from the 4th to the 7th of December. 

Selection process

Programme decisions are being curated by the IPTN South Africa Programme Review Committee. The Programme Review Committee is dedicated to curating an inclusive and diverse programme that will reflect the vision of the conference. 

How to apply 

Follow the link  //form.jotform.com/221943342095051 and select the relevant programme options.


Contact us by email: conference2023@playbacktheatrenetwork.org