About Makeshift Theatre

Makeshift Theatre is the alter ego of Brian Tasker and operates as a series of collaborative opportunities in the UK and abroad.

About Brian Tasker

Brian Tasker

Brian Tasker

I graduated from the School of Playback Theatre in New York in 2008 and I am a practitioner registered with the International Playback Theatre Network.  I have been involved with Playback Theatre since 2003 and promoting Playback Theatre is my main focus.

Prior to my involvement with Playback Theatre, I  trained in the improvised theatre of The Fool with Frankie Anderson in 1998 and later with Michael Loader. The Fool, similar to the Zero in the Tarot, steps into the unknown to create theatre from some inner prompting, suggestions from the audience or an offer that someone in the group might make that then takes off in a zany direction. Who knows what might happen when Fools make theatre?  See links for more information on the Fool.

My interest in dance and movement developed from my involvement with the non-stylised movement inspired by the work of  Suprapto Suryodama and I was in a group run by one of his senior students for a year in 1998.  Much more recently after attending extensive training for more than three years at the School of Biodanza and deciding against continuing to become a Biodanza teacher, I used my training to devise a hybrid form derived from Biodanza: Dancing your story: Deepening emotional awareness through dance and movement. 

Inspired by the passion and emotional connection of Biodanza and similarly combining a sequenced series of exercises with mindfulness, the intention of Dancing your story, is to enable you to observe your own experience in a particular way, alongside your personal narrative, while immersed in the moment. This method can be used to train actors in emotional and physical fluidity.  Click on the Dancing your story tab for more information.

In addition, I’ve studied Mindfulness with Thich Nhat Hanh and prior to retiring, I worked as a counsellor with BACP senior accreditation.  I still practice part-time as a counsellor.

I’m also a poet and since the late 1980s have been writing haiku, senryu and tanka, the miniature poetic forms that originated in Japan.  I’ve always loved poetry, especially classical Chinese and Japanese poetry in translation, for their conciseness, imagery and sense of place. The popularity of haiku outside of Japan developed since the 1950s via the scholarly works of R.H. Blyth , the writings on Zen by Alan Watts and Beat poet Jack Kerouac among others, who provided the impetus for haiku to be written in English.

The imagistic nature of these poems and the observer-inclined status of the writer / reader has suggested to me the idea of these poems as a kind of theatre.  Click on the Poetry tab to read some examples and a more detailed introduction.

Makeshift Theatre Mission Statement

The idea of Playback Theatre as ‘a theatre of neighbours’ is usually attributed to the founder Jonathon Fox, inspired by the fact that the audience in Playback get to know each other rather than just  watching a performance. I’ve borrowed the phrase because I share the aspiration and want to continue to work in such a way that brings people together in a friendly way.  But like it or not, we live in a politicised and polarised world and from that perspective, I feel the need to clarify my intention that Makeshift Theatre practices a form of non-aligned social activism through the medium of Playback Theatre.  Obviously, I have my own views on various topics and may pursue that debate in other arenas, but in this context, I choose to work without allegiance to any political movement or partisan cause. Makeshift Theatre seeks to provide a vehicle for change through personal and community affirmation by sharing stories rather than as a platform for opinion.

Playback Theatre welcomes the stories of all tellers while being particularly sensitive to those who are disempowered or less visible.  Makeshift Theatre seeks to address this aspect of social change whenever possible by encouraging those stories to be told and those tellers to be seen and heard. Brian Tasker has been travelling to India since 1970 and Makeshift Theatre is particularly interested in travelling to countries in the developing world to help establish and promote a Playback Theatre presence there.   Social projects in these economies tend to operate on limited resources and Makeshift Theatre provides support and input without cost to the project other than perhaps a modicum of hospitality by combining this work with a holiday visit.  In 2011, a return visit to Sri Lanka took place in early May and an exploratory visit to India happened in September that year. Travel costs to India were generously funded by a friend based there.  In 2012, I returned to Sri Lanka to offer more training to my original group now known as Mountain Flower Playback Theatre. I’ve since been to India and trained a group there.

I hope that you enjoy reading accounts of this work in my blog.  Any comments / feedback welcome by email to briantasker@hotmail.com.  If you are a Playback Theatre Practitioner and you are interested in jointly creating a network of opportunities to support Playback Theatre projects in developing economies, please get in touch.

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