Growing curiosity in the face of social complexity

It was one of my first performances.

A man in the audience raised his hand hesitantly and, while he walked to the teller’s chair, I noticed the wrinkles across his face like art work created by the sun; his hands had shades of dirt and his eyes might have seen things I did not notice or things I sometimes take for granted.

His story was very short and in one sentence- so short we almost didn’t know how to play it back:

 I planted new seeds before I came to Moscow to visit my daughter. And now I am worried about how the seeds are doing…? 

I think it’s understandable what the essence of the story is, even as a woman from a city in Russia.  You can take the idea of a seed as a metaphor and play around it… ah, so many images came to my mind! But to be honest, the most important thing was not the power of imagination but knowledge: knowledge about the place the teller came from, about the world beyond the edges of my converse sneakers.

In the place where the teller was from – one understands the importance of seed in the face of starvation.  In cities, people can afford to spread their lives without even noticing- or sometimes, caring- that seed produces a plant and a plant is a source of food.  So planting seed is very different for me in a city, and for this man seed is a matter of survival.  And if we could know more about this part of Russia we would be able to bring on stage- and through his story- the identity of the whole region with its struggles and values; the identity of my country with its contradictions and polarities, injustices and history.

Seeds are the same everywhere, but the meaning of the hands who are planting them is very different.

I was so impressed by this Playback experience, I focused on further discovering the mission of Playback Theatre and how it can be a driver of change.  I still challenge myself with new questions and it’s exciting and important even though, often, it’s not that easy.  I believe our Playback community is the microcosm of our society and we too are facing all the challenges the world does, including racism, patriarchy, islamophobia, homophobia, poverty, power abuse and beyond as well as the joy of human connection, reunion, forgiveness, and celebration.  We all have different access to resources, and Playback Theatre itself is a resource.  Can we make it accessible for everyone?

When I joined IPTN, I was happy to contribute my membership fee because I imagined it going to somebody who needed the same access I have to our conferences and trainings, or to seeding important projects.

I believe we see our future in a similar way of Equality and Justice, and I’m interested in how we can reunite and work together towards this common goal.  I feel honoured to become a servant of our community and I will do my best to curate IPTN as a HUB, revisiting our needs in the present moment.

During the pandemic- which revealed many important issues and challenges- I co-created a small animated movie to reflect on our world: //

The world is complex and so is Playback Theatre, because it is about life.   Does this mean we need to learn more about the world and each other to become better playbackers?  To become a resilient community?  If we can make it work in our community, it means we can cultivate hope for the world.

I have been reflecting on these questions: what do we need in order to support positive change?  As a Playback community, what needs our conscious attention?

In response, I reflected on these two values: belonging and awareness.  When these two values unite, they hold immense power, don’t you think?  Playback Theatre is not about solving problems but rather helping us, the community, to understand a problem- from knowledge comes care and from care comes change.

I invite you to contact me any time you have questions and ideas.  

I commit my service to you by being approachable and responding from my heart and mind in all decisions.

Stay Healthy and Safe, Curious and Joyful-

Anastasia (Nastya) Vorobyeva