Since March 2020, Circle of Sparks has held online Playback Improv Theater
shows and workshops including:
Stories of Caregiving
a public show on caregiving during the Stay at Home order
Race and Reality
a workshop focused on racial justice
Sparks of Healing
two workshops in collaboration with a drama therapist on healing
from the shared trauma of the pandemic
a show for essential hospital workers
Made possible by funds from the Essex County Division of Culture Affairs,
a partner of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts
Beginning in March 2019, Culture Connection Theater launched our Circle of Sparks Playback Improv Theater Project with a company of 15 members. This new community building project combines storytelling and improvisational theater where audience members share their own stories and see them enacted or “played back.”
In our first season, we performed two public shows on themes of community and courage as well as participated in training and conferences as a member of Playback North America (PNA). In March 2020, the company began developing an online Playback format with PNA, held a public show on caregiving and four workshops. Future online shows will be announced plus collaborations with other arts and community partner organizations.
The project’s mission is to foster connection between people through improv theater. Enacting the stories of others provides an opportunity to increase understanding of one another. Theater allows us to move beyond talking and get into action.
Director and producer Elaine Molinaro, actor and musician Laura Hoffman and actor and writer Nadine Bernard have trained at the Centre for Playback Theatre to learn this improv method from company founders Jonathan Fox and Jo Salas who were inspired by improv theater, oral history and the psychodrama work of Jacob Moreno.
Playback Theatre has been used as a forum for the exchange of diverse experiences including racial conflict and reconciliation; incarcerated men and women; immigrant and refugee experiences; youth concerns with bullying; interactions with the police; diversity and conduct in the workplace and more. In their Circle of Sparks project Elaine, Laura and Nadine hope to explore these themes and others in this time of pandemic and protest.
Company facilitators: Elaine Molinaro, Laura Hoffman, Nadine Bernard
Company members: Debra Caplan, Donna Dimino, Richard Douglass, Jill Falozi, Sheri Glorioso, Beth Haessig, Elizabeth Kaplan, Alyson Linefsky, Michael McMahon, Arthur Gregory Pugh, Lindsey Sherwin, Joseph Smith, Linda Wielkotz, Cecile Williams, Jessica Wolf