Social role development in playback theater groups in light of the Mackenzie and Livesley model

Oshrat Mizrahi Shapira, Naphtaly Shem-Tov, Shoshi Keisari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Playback theater is a form of improvisational theater created in a response to personal stories. It can take place as a performance and in the setting of an ongoing group. In such groups, members create improvised theatrical responses to personal stories shared by other group members. Group dynamics are both represented in the discourse and interaction between members, and manifested and shaped through theatrical expression. Draw on the thinking of MacKenzie and Livesley, who outline four types of group roles, this paper demonstrates the interrelatedness of a member's role type and the dynamic unfolding on the group stage. In order to explore this relation, the authors propose three distinct perspectives or lenses: i) dramatic role; ii) the rules of dramatic play; iii) and the theatrical encounter with the story's contents. These three lenses help conductors recognize the interrelatedness and mutual influence of the social role of the individual member of a Playback group and the drama unfolding on stage and thereby choose methods and interventions in theatrical space that could promote development and role-expansion for individual members.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101942
JournalArts in Psychotherapy
StatePublished - Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd


  • Dramatic role
  • Improvisation
  • Livesley and Mackenzie
  • Playback theater
  • Social role


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