Tonight was another session with  Playback Theatre. It started out with a certain amount of disconnect and I was in a very heady place from all of the writing/thinking I have been doing. It would have been great to go straight into a play on a body level, but that took a while to find and I am not even sure if I did… I understood the need/desire to drop the work into a place of metaphor, responding to the stories that were being told in a poetic way, but I wasn’t feeling it in my body. So I watched for a while, and let myself be disconnected. Sometimes it is hard not to give, even when I feel like I have nothing to give. As if, perhaps as a mother, student, lover, friend, researcher, my only role is to give and give. And then I reached a moment when I offered a story, to see if that was what I wanted to give. And it was hard, because it felt vulnerable and not like research but more fragile, like standing on a ledge. The story was not clear to me in the telling, not clear in the receiving and changed in the process. I didn’t know why I was telling it but I felt compelled to share the intensity of mixed emotions, joy of being with family and in place, overwhelming sorrow at the possibility of losing a friend through illness. The first playback experience, primarily in movement was confusing, somewhat fragmented to receive, as if I was trying to find something that was not quite there. I felt like I needed to show my gratitude but the gift didn’t quite match my story. The second playback, after the clarification of my desire to be a constant for my friend, was offered as a vocal response and that was quite the journey for me. I felt like it brought me through a series of complex emotions that touched on the feelings of stability, faltering, longing, loss, grief, comfort, sorrow and love. The range of landscapes that I witnessed within my body/mind/spirit was quite expansive and cathartic. The discussion that followed brought attention to beginnings and endings for the players. How does the player remember that the gift is for the storyteller, not for the players? It is important to sense when the gift has been received and the re-telling can come to close. Players can experience empathy for the teller but need to remember that the story is the teller’s, not the player’s. These are difficult concepts to remember in the moment of re-telling a story. Perhaps the most  important thing for me, was honoring the feelings of the teller, remembering that playback through metaphor requires a serious amount of listening and compassion.