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Successful yard sale!

11/9/13: Thanks to all those who donated and/or came to find treasures at our fundraising yard sale!

Immigrant Stories project completed

7/9/13: With one more show for farmworkers and their families at Gill Farms, we came to the end of a seven-year project in which we carried out more than 100 bilingual performances for immigrants in the Hudson Valley. Many people–adults and children–told their stories and saw them enacted, in some cases taking part as actors as well. We’re sorry to come to the end of this memorable project and grateful to the Dyson Foundation for making it possible.

Stories of strength

5/29/13: Stirring stories for the opening night of the Omega Institute’s Women Serving Women Summit, with representatives from 14 organizations from the local area and nationwide. Much laughter, some tears, and warm-hearted camaraderie.

Addressing bullying with 7th and 8th graders

5/28/13: A roomful of attentive young people shared deep feelings and stories, exploring how to be allies when someone is bullied or harassed, whether face to face or online.

What are you waiting for?

5/23/13: The next in our public show series at Deyo Hall: stories that brought us from Palestine to Fishkill to Afghanistan, and into the close-up world of  lost grandmothers and new grandchildren. Lots more stories exchanged over cookies and seltzer after the show!

The Blue Dragon

Lauren and Jody carefully relocating a dragon before our show at the Ridge School, Salt Point.

5/17/13: We often have to clear the space when we’re setting up for a show but until last night at the Ridge School in Salt Point, we’ve never had to move a huge blue dragon out of the way! It was one of many magnificent creative projects made by Ridge School students. Students, their families, and school personnel shared stories about triumphs and challenges. We are grateful to the Community Foundation of Dutchess County and the Ulster Savings Charitable Foundation for their support of this event.

Young immigrants tell their stories

5/14/13 and 5/16/13: We had the great pleasure of doing both a workshop and a performance with members of Mill Street Loft‘s Habilidad and LitClub groups. Teenagers whose families came to the US from other countries learned some Playback, told stories, acted and played music in MSL’s beautiful gallery. We heard about a courageous and determined mother, dreams of going to college and concerns about how to pay for it, an aggressive calf in the mountains of Mexico, and more. Leader Michelle De La Cruz wrote: “I wanted to let you know that the kids and I loved your program.  They talked about it all the way home and even started telling some stories.  The LitClub girls want to write some in their journals and act them out next week!”

Nuestras Vidas, Nuestras Historias

5/2/13: Making a new life in the US after coming from Armenia; remembering Trinidad and Tobago with relief and regret; unexpectedly delivering babies in Peru–an evening of heartwarming, poignant, and hilarious stories at the Everette Hodge Center in Kingston.

No More Bullying! at Dutchess Mediation Center’s Walkathon

4/27/13: On a crisp spring morning on the Walkway Across the Hudson, we provided information about our program to young people, school personnel, and others joining Dutchess Mediation‘s Antibullying Walkathon.

Stories Rising

3/14/13: We ran out of chairs for all the people who came along to this show reflecting on the historic One Billion Rising event on February 14, when a billion people in 200 countries stood up and danced together to protest violence against women and girls. At the show we heard powerful stories about what it was like to be part of that day, and about violence and courage close to home.

“I never thought I’d live to see the day.”

2/1/13: At the opening of an art exhibit to mark No Name-Calling Week, organized by GLSEN and the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center, audience members from 4  to 73 years old spoke about their feelings in response to bullying and harassment–from sadness to hope.

“You don’t belong on this planet”

Matteo and Annie enact a teller’s conflicted feelings on witnessing bullying–wanting to help, being afraid to get involved.

1/30/13 and 2/6/13: Five shows at Leptondale Elementary School where 4th, 5th, and 6th graders shared stories about witnessing and experiencing bullying, and exploring constructive responses in action. One poignant story was about being made to feel like a loser who had no place in the world. Two courageous boys spoke about being targeted as immigrants, and receiving an outpouring of compassion and support from classmates. Sixth graders wrote heartfelt letters to us after participating in a show. Here’s one quote: “It changed my mind about bullying and what to say and do to others, friends or not. I’ll use that advice when I’m in a tough situation. Thanks again. :)”

Dreaming and Doing

1/20/13: Honoring Dr Martin Luther King’s legacy of addressing poverty, war and all kinds of injustice, we invited public show audience members to tell stories about their own visions and actions.

Dia de Los Reyes

1/5/13: Children and families gathered at the Family Partnership Center in Poughkeepsie to celebrate Three Kings Day, including a Playback performance. Three children from the audience took on the roles of gifts in a story about Three Kings told by a woman from Mexico.

“My first American Christmas”

12/10/12: ESL students and their families from Egypt, Haiti, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Dominican Republic told stories from their lives.

Stories from the West Bank

12/3/12: At our benefit performance in NYC for the Freedom Bus, a Playback project of the Freedom Theatre of Jenin, we heard stories of inspiration and rage, and about seeing the sea for the first time after growing up only a few miles away but the wrong side of a wall.

You and Your Story: Twitterbacks

12/2/12: At our public show for families in New Paltz, audience members wrote one-sentence stories about their lives. Here’s a sampling:

“I celebrated my birthday with my Grama by eating sushi lunch.”

“I had a father/daughter peanut butter brownie date today.”

“I think I was a crow in a past life. This morning I was painting with sequins and glitter.”

“Today I came to this show because somebody told me about this.”

We also acted stories about a father’s poignant moment remembering his own father; an annoying big brother on the way to a swim meet; an extraordinarily bold chipmunk; and bringing the peacefulness of home-grown lavender to a dreary work environment.

Immigrant voices

11/15/12: After an Immigrant Stories performance in Kingston, a South American couple wrote to us: “You were able to hear serious stories and convert them into beautiful theatre. It’s nice to know that people listen and are interested in our experiences. It makes us feel important and respected.”

 Stories from the Front Lines

11/2/12: At SUNY New Paltz’s Multicultural Education Conference, we gave a lunchtime show for all 270 attendees, acting out stories about  the challenges of teaching and learning in an era of excessive standardization.

Additionally, students from our No More Bullying! Leadership program at Highland Middle School joined us for a well-received demonstration performance and presentation at the conference. HRPT actor Jody Satriani and HMS health teacher Corinne Wade co-presented.

No More Bullying! for mothers and children

10/24/12: At a domestic violence shelter mothers and children from 5 to 16 years old told stories about the impact of bullying in their lives, and their commitment to a safer future for all.

Exploring trauma

10/19/12: On a rainy morning we listened to stories from helping professionals who support clients dealing with the consequences of trauma in their lives.

Stories of Promises

10/18/12: Audience members offered thoughtful and heartfelt stories about promises.

No More Bullying! in Kentucky

8/8/12: Matteo and Jo gave a well-received presentation on No More Bullying! to educators and teaching artists at the American Alliance for Theatre and Education conference in Lexington, KY.

Stories on a farm

Haitian farmworkers enjoying Playback after a long day in the fields. Photo: Marjorie Berman

8/1/12: On a warm Hudson Valley evening, we listened to stories from Mexican and Haitian farmworkers, about working hard in the heat, staying in touch with distant loved ones, feeding hungry workers, playing soccer as the sun goes down.

Playback in South Carolina

6/28-30/12: Jo introduced Playback Theatre to enthusiastic participants at the Applied Theatre Center conference in Greenville, SC.

Shadow and Light

6/21/12: images that stay with us from our public show in New Paltz: an elephant trampling a researcher on a motorcycle; the hidden bodies of the Easter Island statues; a dream kiss on a station platform. Our “puppets” (surprisingly expressive household objects: if you haven’t see them yet, we hope you will!) played a tender story of kindness and betrayal.

An audience member wrote afterwards: “It really is amazing what you do–how entranced we were by a snorkel and duster–not to mention the rest of it.”

Women leading the way

5/28/12: HRPT performed at the opening of the Omega Institute’s Women Serving Women Summit, hearing stories of courage and leadership, past and present. An audience member wrote: “…completely awed by the talent, touched to the core by the compassion, and really curious as to HOW you all do THAT?”

Knocking it out of the park in Manhattan

5/19/12: We acted out stories at the Courageous Schools conference in NYC. The organizer wrote afterwards: “I did want to let you know how thrilled we were to have you and your team at the conference.  The ‘performance dialogue’ you brought was the icing on what most people already considered a spectacular day.  It was moving, funny, heartwarming, powerful and so much more.  Your team knocked it out of the park!”

Playback Theatre in the West Bank

4/26/12: HRPT’s artistic director Jo Salas recently returned from 16 days of teaching Playback in the West Bank, with the Freedom Theatre, and in Israel. You can read her blog posts from the West Bank at or hear an interview on WVKR’s Activist Radio.

No More Bullying! wrap-up session at Highland Middle School

4/25/12: Our talented team of young actors came together once more to reflect, evaluate, and celebrate! Congratulations, team!

Bullying Prevention Conference in Newburgh

3/19/12: HRPT provided the keynote performance at the a community-wide gathering in Newburgh addressing bullying and violence, part of Newburgh’s Reconnecting Families Summit. Our audience of young people, parents, and educators contributed ideas and stories. A courageous 1st grader told her story about witnessing a friend being bullied, and taking action to help him. Another boy told a story about being not being listened to by his principal following a bullying situation. In this large and attentive audience, he was finally listened to.

No More Bullying! shows at Highland Middle School

With our wonderful team of students, we carried out six performances at Highland Middle School on March 28 and 29. Sixth, seventh, and eighth graders told stories about what they’ve seen and experienced, and learned a lot about what they can do especially as witnesses to bullying to make their school a safer and more respectful place. About 380 students took part.

Spring Forward in New Paltz

Our public show on March 15 was rich in stories from people of all ages. We acted out stories of changing seasons, personal discovery, danger, and delight. From our Twitterbacks (one-sentence stories written on a card before the show, some of which are read aloud anonymously and acted on the spot):

Today, I raked some leaves under two big trees in the sun and a wonderful cool breeze while losing weight!

Today I had to remind myself to follow my heart and reassure myself that I will be okay…

Driving my grandson to school, I made up stories about 3 little boys afraid of storms (his idea!)

Today I did a good deed for a dying neighbor’s child.

Worked on negotiating clothes missing from mom’s nursing home.

During lunch, I took my spoon that I was eating corn with and drew a face on it, with a sharpie.


HRPT performs with students at Kingston High School anti-bullying conference!

3/3/12: At KHS’s recent community and school gathering to address bullying, HRPT provided a one-hour workshop where students learned some Playback basics and had a chance to explore their own experiences and feelings around bullying. Then they joined us onstage as performers in a culminating performance for the conference! They did great and we enjoyed working with these courageous young people. From one of the organizers: “I just wanted to personally thank you all again for taking the time to come to KHS this morning and for all the energy, effort, expertise and empathy you bring everywhere you go!”


Playback workshops in Saugerties, NY

2/12: The Centre for Playback Theatre’s Winter Session takes place February 18 to 28. HRPT’s artistic director Jo Salas will teach a course on conducting called Five Brains and a Strong Heart, 2/22–2/25. Other courses are Core Training and Therapeutic Elements. Visit for more information.

HPRT goes to Rockland County

1/18 and 1/25/12: We were invited to provide No More Bullying performances for all 2nd to 5th graders at Bardonia Elementary School. The children welcomed the opportunity to tell their stories and strengthen their resolve to take action if they witness bullying.

Memphis Playback learns No More Bullying!

1/14-15/12: An active, diverse, and talented company in Memphis spent two packed days gaining the skills needed to bring our original program No More Bullying into Memphis schools. They’re the sixth Playback company to take this training.

HRPT performs in London and Frankfurt!

HRPT recently carried out shows at the New Diorama Theatre in London and at the International Playback Theatre Conference in Frankfurt. The team came home inspired–and tired!

New on YouTube!

Check out our new clip showing some of our No More Bullying! Leadership program students in action!


10/14/11: What in the world…

Last night we did another public show in beautiful Deyo Hall in New Paltz, with lots of stories about floods, winds, and Occupy Wall Street. As part of the warm-up audience members were invited to write one-sentence stories, some of which we read aloud and acted out.

Here are a few of the “Twitterbacks”–thanks to our creative audience members!

Feeling like an outsider in a family of sisters.

I haven’t gotten my unemployment checks yet. Do I dare complain?

I thought it was going to be raining and dreary all day and then the sun came out for just a little while, and that changed EVERYTHING!

I heard from an agency today about a job with a famous family but I have to really consider if housekeeping is my passion.

9/24/11: Seguimos adelante!

This past week we did three more Immigrant Stories shows–a festival in Amenia hosted by Somos La Llave del Futuro; another show for migrant workers who suffered during the recent floods; and a presentation and performance as part of a staff training for Planned Parenthood of the Mid Hudson Valley.

Strong stories were told, with lots of laughter and tears, bearing witness to struggle, hardship, love and courage. A mother spoke about her children whose future is foreclosed unless the DREAM Act passes. A young woman told about her immigrant husband’s 16-hour days supporting their family. A man spoke of being “solo en el desierto”—alone and lost in the desert until he finally found help. A little boy at the migrant worker camp told us about learning a funny song about elephants at a summer program for kids. At the end of that show, he and the other children stood and sang our final song with us, Seguimos Adelante—Keep on Walking Forward. Soon all the families will depart for Florida and another season’s work.

8/5/11: “My children were sick…”

In a crowded dining area in a migrant workers’ camp, families gathered to tell stories and see them enacted in another of HRPT’s Immigrant Stories series, funded by the Dyson Foundation. A woman told her story about her two children, 5 and 7 years old, who became sick after being exposed to toxic spray at another camp, a few years ago. The clinic gave her medicine, but it didn’t work. She remembered a remedy from Mexico, using lemons, and was able to heal her children. Now things are better: at this camp the children are picked up and taken to school, away from danger.

7/30/11: Twitterback!

At our recent public show, The Virtual Campfire, audience members were invited to write a one-sentence story from their day on a card. We read some aloud–anonymously!–and actors enacted them briefly. Here are some of the “Twitterbacks”:

The day began with breakfast outdoors (chocolate mousse and frittata) and then bloomed curiouser and curiouser.

I am 62 years old and just got a divorce! Yeah!

I ate eggs with every meal.

There was a rooster in the woods, making a noise like a hissing steam pipe; it thoroughly perplexed my dog.

I had the bestest day today after awakening next to the love of my life.

6/21/11: HRPT performs at PT Festival!

Hudson River Playback Theatre members Sarah Urech, Lauren Ardman, Matteo Spitzer, Jody Satriani and Jo Salas gave the culminating performance to a sold-out audience at the Playback North America Festival in Cambridge, MA on June 18. One audience member wrote afterwards: “It was like watching a group of people being danced by the same dream.”

6/7/11: No More Bullying! in Montreal

Promito Playback Theatre, a bilingual group in Montreal, is the latest Playback ensemble to receive training in HRPT’s No More Bullying! approach. The company hopes to introduce the program in Montreal schools in the coming year.

5/11/11: TEDx in Brattleboro

Former HRPT member Michael “Cabbie” Caban, now a graduate student at SIT in Brattleboro, VT, was instrumental in inviting HRPT director Jo Salas to speak at SIT’s independent TED event on the theme of “Ideas to Action.” You can watch Jo’s speech here. At the same link you’ll see the beautiful dance that Cabbie choreographed and performed at the event’s opening.

Diversity stories in Phoenicia

4th, 5th, and 6th graders told sensitive stories about getting to know and appreciate people who are different from them in a series of shows at Phoenicia Elementary School as part of their Diversity Week. These thoughtful kids also joined us on stage at times to help act out each others’ stories.

Playback with RAPP!

HRPT’s series of workshops with kids in the Relatives as Parents Program (run by Cornell Cooperative Extension in Kingston) culminated in a heartwarming show for families. Kids, parents, and grandparents told stories and watched them acted out by the children, along with HRPT members.

No More Bullying!

HRPT recently completed another “No More Bullying!” Leadership Program at Highland Middle School, funded by the school and by the Community Foundation of Ulster County.  Fifteen 6th, 7th, and 8th graders learned about Playback and about school bullying, then took part in anti-bullying performances for other students in the school as well as 5th graders from the neighboring elementary school. We heard and acted out some powerful stories. One performer described it as “exhilarating!” Photo: celebrating with T-shirts and ice cream!

No More Bullying! in other places

HRPT’s No More Bullying! program has been adopted most recently by Vancouver Playback Theatre, after an intensive 2-day training led by Jo Salas. She’ll also train a group in Montreal in June.

Big Apple Playback Theatre in New York City also uses the No More Bullying! program (they call it “Keep the Peace”). They have a new video about it–check it out on YouTube!

HRPT to perform in Boston and beyond

HRPT will be featured at Playback North America’s Festival in Boston in mid-June, and has also been invited to perform in London and Frankfurt in November, 2011.