Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies

First Advisor

Cruz Robyn

Second Advisor

Butler Jason

Third Advisor

Sajnani Nisha


This research aimed at examining the aspects of Playback Theater and how it was experienced by Palestinian adolescents living under the Israeli occupation. Sixteen Palestinian adolescents between the ages of 15 and 16 participated in this study and came from the same school and the same refugee camp although many did not know each other. A Palestinian trainer/conductor who specialized in Playback Theater and who had work experience with adolescents and conducted a 16 session training program designed to teach adolescents about this interactive theatre form. Data collected included the researcher’s observation notes, video tapes that documented the details of all sessions, including a final performance for the adolescents’ mothers and friends. Personal one-to-one evaluation meetings with the participants were conducted, a phone call evaluation with the mothers, and a mid-term and final evaluation meeting with the trainer were other sources of data. All materials collected and recorded for this project were translated from Arabic to English.

Results revealed that the interaction quality of the group members from the beginning to the end changed over time. Initially, participants had difficulty understanding Playback Theater methods involving improvisation, music, movement, and drama activities. They displayed typical adolescent behavior issues in challenging one another. Despite the difficulties that the participants faced in understanding the Playback method, they ended up enjoying the space given to them to express themselves and share their stories. The three major themes in the research findings suggested that Playback Theater enabled them to get in touch with feelings. First, the researcher and trainer successfully attempted to create safe space using group rules around confidentiality to allow expression of feelings including happiness, sadness, and pride. The second major finding was that a collective space to express grief and sadness for loss of close family members and community members was provided by the Playback Theater. Finally, findings revealed that the chance to learn new skills that were articulated as the ability to listen, to focus, and to interact positively with others was provided. Some of the findings were supported by the mothers’ feedback about the performance and their pride in their sons and their sons’ new skills.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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