Psychoplayback takes place in a closed and process orientated setting, a place where unfinished business can be opened within containing and enabling surroundings. Similarly to psychodrama, also in psychoplayback, the group, the conductor, and the stage (of which additional information can be found in the chapter on psychodrama) are central elements that have great significance as part of the container formed to hold the events. In psychoplayback the central subject is called ‘Protagonist’ to whom two additional roles are added: the ‘Proactor’ and the ‘Antagonist’.
The protagonist is the central subject in psychoplayback. He or she moves from role of passive viewer (1) to the role of storyteller who tells his or her story (2), continues to the role of conductor who directs his or her own scene (3) and from there to role of protagonist who gets on stage to play himself as an active actor (4). The full potential of the participant is expressed when he or she experiences the full range of roles and makes the most of the opportunity to take part in his or her psychodrama, therefore he or she is called protagonist.
The ‘ProActor’ is the actor who plays the protagonist on stage. Into his or her hands the protagonist deposits the greatest responsibility; he or she chooses or is chosen from all other actors on stage to represent the protagonist and his or her story. The word ‘ProActor’ is comprised of two words; ‘pro’ which means “in favor of” and the word ‘Actor’. The proactor is an actor who is in favor of the protagonist, who understands the significance of being an extension of the protagonist and the creative limitations that necessarily accompany the role.
The first word ‘Pro’ can also be related to the word ‘Protector’; the protagonist is a “protecting actor” whose role requires greater responsibility than the other actors in protecting and defending the framework of the protagonist’s story. Through his interactions with the other figures on stage, the proactor helps the protagonist make connections and understand the therapeutic processes taking place.
The beginning of the word ‘Pro’ can be also related to the word ‘professional’, that is, a “professional actor” unlike the protagonist, trained to be a tool in the protagonist’s hands, skillfully presenting in the most loyal way possible, inner contents from his or her world, as would professional playback actors.
It is also possible to refer to the word ‘pro’ as the prefix of ‘protagonist’; an actor that represents the protagonist on-stage; the protagonist’s representative.
In psychoplayback the antagonist plays a similar role to that of the antagonist in Moreno’s psychodrama. He or she plays the ‘counter role’; the person or subject with which the protagonist has an unresolved issue. The antagonist represents the protagonist’s central dilemma and conflict which can be external, that is a conflict with this or that person, or internal, an emotional conflict pertaining to this or that feeling.
- Cohen, O. (2011). PsychoPlayback: The Space Extended Between Playback Theatre and Psychodrama, on the Axle between a Theatrical Artistic Experience and Psychotherapy. (Lesley University).