Roundabout Playback Troupe receives multiple honors in its first year

From left, Kelly Kaser, Michelle Yadon, Dan Peeler and Doreen Fatula participate in the Roundabout Playback Troupe. (Submitted photo)

From left, Kelly Kaser, Michelle Yadon, Dan Peeler and Doreen Fatula participate in the Roundabout Playback Troupe. (Submitted photo)

By Renee Larr

The Roundabout Playback Troupe has barely been around for one year, but the troupe of actors is already winning awards for its unique methods.

Michelle Yadon, inclusion supervisor for the Monon Community Center, created the group in late 2014. It allows participants – with and without disabilities – to act out stories suggested by audience members. Last month, the troupe accepted an honor from the Indiana Governor’s Council for Disability Awareness for its good work.

“We’re very humbled that we received the award. It’s just been really powerful to see how far we’ve come in just one year,” Yadon said.

More recently, the troupe also found out that it received the Indiana Parks and Recreation Association Inclusion Program of Excellence Award. They will be honored at an awards banquet Jan. 13 in Bloomington.

Yadon studied drama therapy at Kansas State University. That’s where she learned about playback theatre.

“It’s a form of theatre where audience members tell their stories and a troop of actors act those stories out. It’s a form of improvisation,” she said. “Sometimes playback is just done for performance, or sometimes it’s done in therapy. We do it for advocacy and performance.”

Yadon has seen the affect the troupe has on its members.

“I just saw how powerful it was, how people had an increase in communication, abstract thinking, understanding of self, self-determination and self-confidence. It was also really amazing because when we would rehearse, it wasn’t apparent who had a disability and who didn’t,” she said.

The group performs each March as part of Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation’s Disability Awareness Campaign. The troupe’s name pays homage to Carmel.

“We thought the name would be something specific to Carmel since we have so many roundabouts. Also, because playback is kind of like a roundabout. There are stories that are coming in and out,” Yadon said.

The group’s next performance will be March 18 and 19 at the Monon Community Center. For more, visit carmelclayparks.com.

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