Playback Theatre with ‘Children in Conflict with Law’

Editor’s Note: This is the original full-length version of this essay. An edited version was included in the book: Playback Theatre Around the World, Diversity of Application to comply with word limits.

Playback Theatre with ‘Children in Conflict with Law’

An exploratory study

Author(s): Rijul Kataria, Puneeta Roy, Bhanu Mehta

Organisation: The Yuva Ekta Foundation, New Delhi

Year: 2019


This paper looks at The Yuva Ekta Foundation’s on-going work with ‘Children in Conflict with Law’ (CICL), and contextualises specific areas in which Playback Theatre (PT) has aided the development of this exercise. We have used Playback with young offenders aged 16-21 years within a juvenile prison setting in Delhi, alongside using the exercise to connect with policymakers and other stakeholders around Juvenile Justice. Based on the observations made through these sessions, we attempt to understand whether Playback can be used as an effective tool to work on emotional health of young offenders and the avenues it opens up for stakeholder interaction.


The current jurisprudence on ‘Children in Conflict with Law (CICL)’ (legal terminology for a child below 18 years who is charged with an offence) is called the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act of 2015 (also referred to as the JJ Act). It prescribes a framework for myriad interventions through skill development, education and psychological interventions for the rehabilitation of young offenders. The Yuva Ekta Foundation team has been working with young adults, specifically those in ‘Conflict with Law’ for the last 10 years using various tools of Theatre and Expressive Arts.

There is a growing body of literature to suggest the positive impact of creative or expressive arts on young adults across the globe (see Heise, 2014; Koiv and Kaudne, 2015; Larose, 2013). While Playback Theatre (PT) has been a recent introduction to our repertoire of tools, it is certainly a significant one. As an improvisational theatre technique, we have used it in a couple of our sessions as part of an on-going study that looks ‘Building Emotional Intelligence using Expressive Arts and Psychodrama Therapy with Children in Conflict with Law’.

Through this paper we will examine the current position of Playback Theatre within the broader realm of Expressive Arts and look at the concrete ways in which it stands out. We will do this by talking about three PT sessions we have conducted in the area of Juvenile Justice. Observations from these sessions have revealed that participants (both offenders and policy bearers) feel safe enough to express their vulnerabilities in large group settings. Based on our observations and experiences of conducting Playback, we will also make a case for using PT as a tool for reintegration of a young offender within the family and community setting.

To download the full article, please click on the link below:

Download Playback Theatre with Children in Conflict with Law- journal version.pdf