A year in the making, the troupe at ReCreate Café Arts is officially ready to debut their brand of playback theater with a special holiday-themed show.

Actors have been rehearsing throughout the fall, learning the various forms and techniques of improvisation.

The“Christmas Playback Theatre Show”will take place Sunday at 6 p.m. The performance will be at ReCreate Café Arts at 800 McCallie Ave. A $5 donation is suggested at the door.


The Salvation Army program seeks to bridge the gap between the homeless and artistic communities through the power of the arts. One of the ways they seek to encourage participation is through playback theater, an original form of improvisation in which audience or group members share stories and watch their lives played back for them onstage by actors.

Unlike “Whose Line Is It Anyway?,” where one-word suggestions are culled from the audience, playback theater encourages the recreation of full stories. The master of ceremonies asks questions of the audience to solicit stories, and the actors use a variety of theatrical techniques to act those stories out with no planning.

The first show will be a mix of short-form and long-form improvisation in the playback style, according to Tenika Dye, artistic director at ReCreate Café.

“It’s definitely been a yearlong process,” she said. “Other than knowing the forms, you really can’t be prepared, because you have no idea what an audience member will say.”

Audience members can expect the show to begin with short-form improv games, followed by a long-form improv featuring audience stories.

“I’ll invite somebody from the audience to sit with me in the ‘teller’s chair,'” she said. “Some people are comfortable sharing, and some might be a bit more nervous.”

The person telling the story will then get to choose cast members to play back the story onstage. The remaining members are “ninjas,”according to Dye. Their job is to be everything else in the scene.

And for some reason, it works. The form resonates with the audience and players alike.

“Having your story told is extremely validating,” Dye said. “It’s just such a neat experience to have someone interpret your life.”

ReCreate Café Arts will continue offering programs like this one and the popular “Walk in My Shoes” storytelling series. Dye said she’s always seeking new actors to participate in the troupe. Click here for more information.