Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies


The purpose of this research was to understand the experience of a Playback Theatre (Playback) program for adolescents addressing themes of bullying perpetration and victimization. The guiding question for the study was: What was the phenomenological experience for homeless youth participating in Keep the Peace Leadership Program, a Playback program at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY? The sample consisted of 11 youth residing at the Coachman Family Center in White Plains, NY, 11 Manhattanville students, and four adults from Big Apple Playback Theatre in NY. Participants completed the forms of bullying scale (FBS) so the researcher could measure bullying climates of participants’ lives and determine potential directions for stories about bullying. The researcher functioned as a participant observer, using multiple methods to record and collect data. After the final session, interviews were conducted with six youth and four Manhattanville students. Using a simplified version of Maustakas’s (1994) method by Creswell (2013), inductive qualitative data analysis revealed 10 themes about bullying perpetration and victimization, which were in direct correlation to the FBS: teasing, secrets, friendships, fear, injury/harm, name-calling, intimidation, damage, being left out, and lies and rumors. The investigator’s interpretations of the data were transformed and dramatized into the ethnodrama “Phoenix Rising.” Although it was not clear if KPLP made students better equipped to deal with bullying situations or if the FBS functioned as a predictor of stories, the sharing and witnessing of others’ memories using Playback deepened the connections participants had with each other, and empowered youth to honor and contribute to the wellness of the group. Data indicated that participants have the ability and desire to pursue a restoration of peace and harmony using Playback. These findings support previous research and contribute to the field of expressive therapies by expanding opportunities that make social issues relevant to teenagers. This research also suggests Playback is a viable theatre alternative to inspiring social change. More research is needed to gain an understanding of Playback and the impact it has on adolescents.

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