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About Us

Bay Area Playback Theatre is an ensemble of professional performers with varied and complementary backgrounds in theater, music, movement, therapy, psychodrama, education, magic, mime and clowning. Bay Area Playback was founded in 2003 by a group of performers who come from the helping professions as well as the performing arts, who came together because of their love of this form of theatre. 

It is our mission to offer audience-interactive, improvisational performances for the general public and for organizations who seek dynamic, creative approaches to building community within their membership. Bay Area Playback Theatre is committed to a theatre which values community, service, and the possibility of personal and social transformation through art.

Bay Area Playback Theatre Troupe


Sylvia Israel

Sylvia Israel is Founder and former Creative Director of Bay Area Playback Theatre.She is a nationally certified Psychodrama Trainer, Educator and Practitioner (TEP), a Registered Drama Therapist/Board Certified Trainer (RDT/BCT) and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). Sylvia teaches at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) as well as privately through the Bay Area Moreno Institute. In addition, she is a Trainer in the Therapeutic Spiral Model of Psychodrama working with trauma survivors. Her passion is in finding the doorways to awaken spontaneity and an open heart, allowing us allowing us to create the life and world we envision. Sylvia maintains a private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area and online with individuals, couples and groups.  www.BayAreaMorenoInstitute.com   www.ImagineCenter.net.

Marcy Dubova

Marcy, an original founding member, is the senior of the group at age 81.  She trained at The Marin Theatre Company and acted in the musical “Sex Tapes for Seniors,” in San Francisco.  Marcy has studied various forms of improv for years and finds that it’s her favorite form because she despises learning lines.  Playback Theatre, in particular, is her best form because of its authenticity and character.She was a Program Director for 17 years in an outpatient treatment facility before turning to private practice for ten years.  She continues to work virtually in the field of addiction.Her proudest achievement is being a mother to her 50 year-old daughter Rachel.

Laura Falk Scott

A former lawyer and gallery owner, Laura has studied acting with Allen Taylor and Armand Voulkas and trained at the Playback School in NY. She was Project Director for Antenna Theater’s acclaimed educational outreach initiative, “The High School Project,” and is a school docent for SF MOMA.

Benny Buettner

Benny Buettner- (actor, magician, mime, clown, puppeteer) Benny has over twenty years professional acting experience in Europe and America. He has studied acting with Susan Batson, Actors Studio NY. As a member of SAG-AFTRA, he is represented by Stars,The Agency. Benny has been featured in films, such as Dr. Dolittle, The Princess Diaries and on TV in Nash Bridges. His stage credits include performances at the San Francisco Magic Theatre,  City Arts Theatre, Bay Area festivals and improv comedy clubs. He is co-founder of Magic Circus, providing award winning educational school assembly programs and family entertainment. https://MagicCircus.com https://BennyBuettner.weebly.com Benny Buettner IMDB

Suraya Susana Keating

Suraya Susana Keating is an actress, Licensed Marriage  and Family Therapist, Registered Drama Therapist  and Registered Expressive Arts Therapist who is passionate about the healing powers of creativity, storytelling, and soulful performance. She has trained and performed with Bay Area Playback Theater and San Francisco Playback Theater, and also has extensive training and experience in the Meisner technique, Shakespeare, movement, Yoga and solo performance. Suraya has worked in prisons for 17 years as Shakespeare for Social Justice Director for Marin Shakespeare Company, teaches as an adjunct professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies , and loves supporting others through individual therapeutic work with a creative focus, as well as coaching others to create and share their own life story theater through solo performance. She is also proud mama to an energetic 10 year old boy. http://suraya.org

Marti(n) Holtz

A founding member of Bay Area Playback theatre, is a veteran of forty years performing in both Miami and the Bay area as a featured actor in Art Deco and Shakespeare festivals, cabaret, street and political theatre and also a popular Groucho Marx impersonator. Martin has created numerous theatre based learning experiences for adults, children, corporations and disadvantaged populations. In Miami he was artistic director of Unexpected Company and psychodrama therapist in the Mt Sinai addiction treatment program. Martin has been an instructor and director at Stagebridge in Oakland since 2007 and a visiting professional artist teaching storytelling at East Bay elementary schools. Martin is also a trainer and creative consultant for the Center for Domestic Peace and a lively Santa Claus at Christmas time. 

Duncan Sylvester

Duncan got his start performing with the Earth Circus Performance Troupe, incorporating Dance, Stilt walking and Acrobatics. He toured with them to England and Ireland: He has also worked with the Sonoma based experimental theatre group The Independent Eye. Duncan has worked in acute psychiatric hospitals for 20 years. He is an accomplished musician as well.

Eric Engdahl

Eric led the life of an actor, director, circus ringmaster but someone must have thought he was having too much fun and somehow he ended up as a college professor in teacher education. (That’s what comes from too much education – PhD does stand for “piled higher and deeper.”) However, in that position and working with many colleagues, he has been instrumental in bringing back the teaching credential for theatre and dance in California!  He is proud to be teaching the first group of students to be credentialed as theatre teachers in over 40 years!

Gia Austin-Carroll

Gia Austin-Carroll has spent over 35 years as a  practicing attorney. A relative newcomer to the world of  Bay Area Playback Theatre, she has spent the past few years broadening her horizons as an actor including a supporting role in a yet to be released feature film.

Nika Shimanovskaya

Veronica is an exhibiting artist, curator, published poet and a translator. She studies acting with Frank Storace at The Acting Workshop of Boston, and Remo Araldi, Jeremy Geidt, Scott Zigler, Robert Scanlan at Harvard University. In 2020 she attended Berkeley improv Workshop, joined BAPT soon after, and loves it ever since. 


Harris Warren

Born and Raised in San Francisco, Harris is an actor and voice-over Artist with a love of theater, television and film. Harris actively works in film, commercials, voice-over, public speaking, playback theater, improv and stand-up comedy. He has worked with greats in the business including Director Tom Shadyac, Director Danny Boyle and comedy icon Robin Williams.