Salem Playback Theatre

This is the official site of Playback Theatre in Salem, OR

Facing Impossible Odds: Stories of Strength, Bravery, and Survival

Join Salem Playback Theatre on April 18th for a night of stories celebrating strength, bravery, and survival in the face of impossible odds. Partnering with the Center for Hope and Safety this month, the troupe will bring awareness to the important work being done on behalf of victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking. Their programs and services inform survivors of their options and support them in their choices. A cornerstone of their philosophy is respect for the rights of all survivors, including the freedom to decide whether to report to the police the crimes committed against them. The Center works with survivors of any race, color, creed, religious belief, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Come prepared to tell your own story, or be present to applaud the challenges and triumphs of others.

What: Public Performance
Where: Reed Opera House, Ste 215, second Floor
When: 7:00 PM, Saturday, April 18th, 2015
Tickets: $10, at the door or Purchase Here!

Recommended for Ages 12 and up.


Fight Like a Girl: Stories in Support of Women

Playback Fight Banner Text

Join Salem Playback Theatre on March 21 for a night of stories celebrating women. Share your story of triumph, resistance, defiance or change. What does it mean to fight like a girl—in the workplace, at home, in politics, or elsewhere? As women: how have you found your voice? What challenges did you face or overcome? As men: How have you supported the voices of the women around you?

Playback is a unique form of non-scripted theatre where members of the audience tell true stories about themselves that the players then re-enact on the spot. Sometimes funny, sometimes moving, Playback empowers storytellers and builds a community among the audience.

On March 21, Salem Playback will be joined by women from V-Day Salem, who produce the annual performance of The Vagina Monologues. Join us to tell your own story of courage and justice, or just listen!

What: Public Performance
Where: Reed Opera House, Ste 215, second Floor
When: 7:00 PM, Saturday, March 21
Tickets: $10, at the door or Purchase Here!

Recommended for Ages 12 and up.

Next Show: Out of the Box–New Year Special!

Our January performance features guest stories from member of the National Federation of the Blind who believe that “Blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back.”

Time: Sat, Jan 17, at 7:00 pm
Place: Cyrus Reed Theatre, Reed Opera House, Second Floor. 189 Libert St NE, Salem, OR.
Tickets: $10. Buy in advance here!

A Message from the Artistic Director

Christmas  Donate Season’s Greetings to all our friends and supporters! I can’t believe it has already been four years since I was first introduced to Playback Theatre and began a journey which has led me to experience life from a whole new perspective. Playback has taught me how to practice deep listening, empathy, and connection with the human spirit. I am so grateful to now share this with others. In May of 2012, I invited a small group of people to join me on an adventure and bring Playback Theatre to Salem, Oregon. After experiencing first hand the power of Playback to heal, transform and entertain individuals and community through story, I started Salem Playback Theatre (SPT) to bring this unique work to the Willamette Valley. As the days grow shorter and 2014 comes to a close, I find myself reflecting upon our amazing journey so far. Playback as a form was developed in the late 1970s in upstate New York by Jonathan Fox and Jo Salas, a husband and wife team. They drew upon ancient story-telling rituals as well as drama therapy and experimental theatre forms to create a unique framework for telling and performing stories. While Salem Playback Theatre is honored to be one of over 125 Playback companies worldwide, we are rooted in the people and the stories of our community and are deeply grateful for the warm welcome and outpouring of support we have received from our sponsors and audience members. We are able to share this important work because of your financial support, audience participation and loving encouragement. I am absolutely in awe and incredibly proud of all we’ve accomplished in just two and a half years. We have had the privilege to perform for numerous local organizations including the Salem Art Association, TEDx Salem, the Oregon State Hospital, Mid-Valley Men Against Violence, the SMART Reading Program, “Turbulent Times,” an anti-bullying summit sponsored by the Capitol City Council for School Peace and several private events. We have grown faster than I could ever have imagined, and our trajectory clearly shows me that we are offering a valuable service that enriches and enlivens our community. This year alone, in addition to 8 performances for over 600 people, Salem Playback Theatre:

  • Received 501(c)(3) status from the IRS acknowledging Salem Playback as a registered non-profit organization
  • Increased troupe membership by 44% – more players allows us to increase the number of performances we can offer
  • Found a permanent home at the Reed Opera House
  • Offered free public trainings on Playback form, theory and history
  • Taught Playback at no charge to a group of 20 eager 4th, 5th, and 6th graders every week over the course of 9 months. Not only did they learn playback, but gained listening, empathy, and communication skills.
  • Established regular public performances on the third Saturday of each month
  • Welcomed the Oregon Driver Education Center (ODEC) as our first corporate sponsor.

And we are looking forward to our biggest year yet. Our goals for 2015 include:

  • Giving voice to new audience members in diverse communities by partnering with various organizations and dedicating each public performance throughout the year to a different group (e.g. Federation of the Blind, Men Against Violence, the Second Annual Anti-bullying Summit, etc.) (an estimated 10 such performances with an estimated audience count of 450 and 70 stories played back.)
  • Sponsoring troupe members to attend Playback workshops and conferences, including the International Playback conference in Montreal, for training and inspiration so they may better serve our community
  • Recruiting and training more troupe members
  • Hiring a public relations specialist to support the growth of the company

We can achieve each of our goals for next year – with your help. I invite you to celebrate the giving season with a tax-deductible donation to Salem Playback Theatre. I am trying to raise $5,000 to put on 10 playback shows for marginalized members of our community whose inspiring stories are ready to be told. Will you donate $50 to help me reach that goal? Every gift, of any amount, will help us to empower more storytellers and unite community through shared experience. Salem Playback is also a registered cultural non-profit with the Oregon Cultural Trust. That means that if you donate to us, and make a matching donation to the Cultural Trust, you will be eligible to take the full amount of the second donation (up to $500) as a tax credit on your Oregon State taxes. See the Cultural Trust website for full details. On behalf of Salem Playback, I thank you for a wonderful two and a half years. We look forward to seeing you in the New Year. Warm Regards, Don Crites Founder and Executive Director And Happy Holidays from Salem Playback Theatre Donate

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times: A Playback Holiday Special


Holidays really are the worst. No—the best! Full of friendship, and family, and joy… unless the plane is late and there are gremlins in your chimney. Join Salem Playback Theatre for an evening of Holiday Tales, from the terrifying to the sublime. Share your inner Grinch or your best George Bailey moment at the one event where you really can be the center of attention!


Family friendly and free for kids! This month’s event will feature catering from the Reed’s Oregon Crêpe Company!

Date: Saturday, December 20
Time: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
Place: The Cyrus Reed Theatre at the Reed Opera House, ste. 215 on the Second Floor.

Tickets: $10, general admission. Get your tickets online or at the door.

Next Performance: Bohemian Bash! Nov 15 at the Reed.

Playback’s next performance will be Saturday, November 15, at 7:30 at the Reed Opera House in downtown Salem (Second Floor, in the Cyrus Reed Theatre). Tickets are $10 at the door, or reserve your seats early at Brown Paper Tickets. Free for kids under Age 10!

Salem Playback is teaming up with the Reed for their Third Saturday event,Bohemian Bash 4. Come early to check out an entire variety of Arts Events.
What is Playback? A unique performance event where YOU can share your story on stage, then have it played back to you by our talented company of actors and musicians. Get something off your chest, tell a funny story, or share an embarrassing moment! Don’t feel like talking in front of a crowd? That’s okay, too–just listen and enjoy. Each story is a unique experience that empowers the teller and builds a community among the audience.

Buy tickets here or at the door (Cash or card), and join us for this one-of-kind performance!

Doors Open: 7:00
Curtain: 7:30
Family Friendly: Yes
Tickets: $10
Kids under 10: Free

Salem Playback performs at the Cyrus Reed Theatre!


Celebrate this 3rd Saturday with Salem Playback’s performance in their new space at the Cyrus Reed Theatre in the Reed Opera House! October 18th the performance begins at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $10 by advance sale at or at the door!

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