Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Power of InterPlay and Connection - Even as it relates to politics

Dear friends,

Tonight I was scheduled to put up a blog about our upcoming Life Practice Program and the two free information sessions we have coming up but as I sat down to type I wanted to share with you an amazing moment that happened today.

Today, Jennifer Denning and I went into the pre-trial detention center to do InterPlay with the women incarcerated there, as we have been doing every Tuesday for the past two years.  

We were playing with the form - babbling and the word prompt given was "protest."  My partner (a self proclaimed Trump supporter) excitedly told me about her protesting for Second Amendment rights and against Hillary Clinton because if she would have gotten elected she would have taken the guns away.  I held the container and just listened.

When it was my turn the word was "march."  I talked about how excited I was to go to Washington this weekend and march and stand up for women's rights and join my voice with over 150,000 other women doing the same thing.  My partner she listened.

Then it was time for noticings.  My partner shared how excited she felt that I was going to Washington and how she wished she could too, because she believes in women's rights.  I shared I felt a "unk" in my body as I listened  - She said, "Not a 2nd amendment fan?" I replied, "of course I am (I AM fromTX) the "unk" was about the myth that the Democrats/Hillary want to take your guns.  She replied, "Huh, maybe I'm wrong."  We both to a deep breath, smiled and thanked each other for being our partner.

It was a beautiful moment.

As I noticed with Jennifer later about the magic I felt in that moment I realized that InterPlay was the container that made it possible.  We had built relationship as we played together over the past 5 weeks, only for 1 hour a week, and that was the bridge for us to have this exchange.   We need to take this magic to congress!

InterPlay for the win!!

Wrapping you all around with infinite love and wisdom,


p.s.  Here's a link to our next information session about life practice:  Free Info Session at W.H.O.A. office - we'd love for you to join us!  

Thursday, January 5, 2017

January InterPlay Atlanta Newsletter: Many Opportunities to Play Deep in the New Year!

The outer message we often get about a New Year is that it's time for a fresh start, action and "to do's." I know that for many people this is enlivening and true, but I often experience winter as a germinating time. Quiet and dark, I turn within. Sometimes a clear action arises; sometimes, it doesn't. I breathe and practice embracing the waiting. 
Joyful planning: InterPlay Atlanta envisioning meeting 2016
Stillness is one of our InterPlay practices that feels meaningful to me at this time. In the InterPlay form of "walk, stop and run," visiting InterPlay leader, Masankho Banda recently spoke of stopping as a way of letting our bodies catch up with us. I like this image. When I get going in my world (or my mind) too fast I can pause and let my essential self be felt again. I return to my body- this breathing, moving, creating miracle that I call me. I'm grateful for InterPlay practice that supports me in my doing as well as my undoing. 

Wishing you creative stillness and embodied action in 2017!

Peace & Play,

Soulprint Players perform at Atlanta Shambhala Center's celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
January 15th

Atlanta Shambhala Center's Community Relations Presents:

Poetry readings, musical performances and contemplative discussions in honor of
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

January 15th, 2017
1 PM - 4 PM
Suggested Donation of $15
Atlanta Shambhala Meditation Center 
1447 Church St, Decatur, GA 30030

In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. we invite the
community to share their creative poetry and artistic musings
that highlight reflections of social justice, race relations and
peace efforts in today's society.

Feature Poets/Artists:
Felton Eaddy, Debra Hiers, Waqas Khwaja, BMichelle Tilman,, A'nji Sarumi,
Atlanta InterPlay's Soulprint Performers, Luis Stefanal

This event will include an open mic and reflective conversation segment Atlanta Shambhala facilitates conversations about issues that are important to people of our city and our world. These might include income disparity, a sustainable relationship with our environment and improving our many broken systems (ie. criminal justice,healthcare, education, etc.)

For more information contact A'nji at aunjisings@gmail.com

The Secrets of InterPlay & InterPlay Life Practice Program 
coming this spring!

Unlock the wisdom of your body! Immerse yourself in the joy and wisdom of the InterPlay philosophy and practice. CEs available for both Secrets and The Life Practice Program.

The Secrets of InterPlay (March 24th-26th) is a comprehensive weekend where we will playfully deepen understanding of the tools and ideas of InterPlay. Get your body, mind, heart, and spirit all on the same page with joy and ease.

Starting in April, The InterPlay Life Practice Program provides deep community support for unearthing and honoring the wisdom of your body. Give yourself the gift of play, community, rest and whole bodied knowing in 2017!

Find out more at one of the following Life Practice Program intro sessions:

Saturday, January 14th
Go Vinda's Cafe, 1146 Euclid Ave., 30307
1-2 P.M.

Tuesday, January 31st
W.H.O.A office, L5P Community Center
12-1 P.M.

Saturday, February 11th
The Mask Center, L5P Community Center
12-1 P.M.

An InterPlay exploration of Waking Up White
six class series begins February 14th

Do you want to contribute to community with more clarity and love as we address and heal from racism?
Do you seek more embodied practices, wisdom and support for yourself and as an ally to people of color?
If so, you are invited to join InterPlay leaders, Jennifer Denning and Christine Gautreaux, LMSW for Waking Up White. We will explore and research our ability to play and stretch through discomfort by using InterPlay forms to tell our stories as we uncover ways to dance with the challenges of racism and privilege. You will be able to both enter into the practice AND see how we use InterPlay to deal with our own socialized systemic racism. This class is based on the book, Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debbie Irving. 

6 Tuesdays, 2/14, 2/28, 3/14, 3/28, 4/11 & 4/25th
12:30-2:00 P.M.
Sliding Scale $50-100 proceeds to benefit InterPlay Atlanta POC scholarship fund
Class held at private Decatur residence
For questions and to register email atlantainterplay@gmail.com

 Move: Creating Daily What the Body Wants
An Online exploration with Ruth Schowalter

Get support for your creativity in visual, written, and embodied practices with InterPlay's Body Wisdom!

Jan 27-April 14, 2017; Fridays 3-5pm EST

Put creativity on your calendar for 2017 with one measurable creative action of 15 minutes each day. In this amazing 12-week course, creativity coach Ruth Schowalter guides you through an "artist's way" type of experience based around the popular InterPlay book Move: What the Body Wants by Cynthia Winton-Henry with Phil Porter.

More info here.

Friday, November 4, 2016

INTERPLAY & SCIENCE COMMUNICATION AT THE COLLEGE LEVEL: Becoming the Animal through Use of Creative Forms

TRANSFORMATION OF A CLASSROOM--HOW? These first year college students are fully engaged in body and mind communication information they collected in a homework assignment about animals indigenous to the Emory University's campus. (photo by Ruth Schowalter, aka Hallelujah Truth)
Written by Ruth Schowalter, MS Applied Linguistics and Certified InterPlay Leader

InterPlay + Science Communication='s FUN--I'm repeating this mantra regularly, especially when I have the opportunity to teach college students in a science class how to express their data!

This October 2016 signals the third time that I have conducted a two-part storytelling workshop for my husband's first year seminar, "How to Interpret Behavior You Did Not See," using activities from the improvisational system of InterPlay. Each time, I have had the opportunity to refine my facilitation to provide clearer incremental steps to support the students' easeful stepping into the role of an embodied storyteller.

I envision every student finding storytelling "tools" in this workshop that they can adapt to their own personal communication style. My job is to offer ways for them to play around with expanding vocal and physical range as they express scientific information to an audience of one or many. 

In this blog post, I am offering my InterPlay facilitation experience in the form of photos and photo captions. At the end of this post are links to other blog posts I have written about this freshman seminar, as well as other science communication workshops. Enjoy! I appreciate any feedback in the form of comments here or on Facebook.

WHAT IS IMPROVISATION? WHAT IS INTERPLAY? Desks have already been rearranged from rows to a circle around the perimeter of the classroom when students arrive. After being introduced as a certified InterPlay leader, I invite students to define improvisation and how it could relate to science communication. InterPlay, I explain, is an improvisational system that fosters and supports authenticity. I invite the students to always make choices to participate in the InterPlay improvisational activities in a way that feels good to them. Soon they will be asked to use the available space to "create" or "improvise" ideas related to their seminar, "How to Interpret Behavior You Did Not Know." (photo by Tony Martin)
OUT OF THEIR DESKS AND INTO THEIR BODIES. What does the "whole" communicator  look like when fully engaged--physically, mentally, and emotionally? A simple invitation to stand up, warm up their bodies and then partner with another classmate for leading and following at first brings nervous laughter and then.... (photo by Ruth Schowalter, aka Hallelujah Truth)
THE CLASSROOM TRANSFORMED. Within moments the classroom is electrified as students step into the invitation to "play" with one another. Creative move after creative move appears as leadership alternates back-and-forth between the paired students. (photo by Ruth Schowalter, aka Hallelujah Truth)
THE ROLE OF THE PROFESSOR SHIFTS. When the professor participates in these InterPlay activities as Tony Martin (far right) does here, the classroom dynamic shifts with the students.  Students have an opportunity to interact creatively one-to-one with their professor in a give-and-take relationship. (photo by Ruth Schowalter, aka Hallelujah Truth)
EXPANDING THEIR METHOD OF EXPLANATION. After warming up physically and vocally "playing" around with telling short nonlinear descriptions, students return to their desks to take turns describing the nature observations they have recorded in their "sit spot journals," a class requirement. During the semester, they must make a minimum of thirty entries from the same "sit spot" on the Emory campus that they have chosen to observe. (photo by Ruth Schowalter, aka Hallelujah Truth)
BECOMING THE TREE. Following the activity of describing their "sit spot," students change partners and are asked to stand up in front of their listening partner (or witness). Choosing an animate or inanimate object from their "sit spot," they then "become" it and speak from its perspective. (photo by Ruth Schowalter, aka Hallelujah Truth)
DAY 2 OF THE STORYTELLING WORKSHOP--DEVELOPING RAPPORT. What is rapport and how is it created with the listener? We know that our audience is like a mirror reflecting back to us what we ourselves as speakers are creating. This group exercise of leading and following is an excellent way to "embody" that connect between what we "enact" and its impact on others. (photo by Ruth Schowalter, aka Hallelujah Truth)
EXPERIENCING NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION. Team "Red Sloth" prepares to move together for this nonverbal exercise. Teammates are asked to assume leadership as the group moves and shifts about the space like a flock of starlings in a murmuration. (photo by Tony Martin)
BODY TO BODY COMMUNICATION. Students experience first hand that communicating effectively without words is possible as each one creates unique movements and other group members follow. The leadership shifts effortlessly as long as a teammate is willing to accept his/her turn when the opportunity accuates. (photo by Tony Martin)
OBSERVATION IS PART OF LEARNING. Team "Red Sloth" observes team "Blue Whale." The process of "embodying" concepts occurs over time and through different practices. Observing others perform activities helps students to integrate their own experiences with the "new" ideas presented. (photo by Tony Martin)

PRESENTING RESEARCH? YES! Does this look like students are having fun? Is any learning going on here? Are both presenter and audience engaged? Is the transference of information occurring? Do you think students are having the opportunity to teach something they know with enthusiasm? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding YES! (photo by Tony Martin)
WHAT ANIMAL AM I? At the conclusion of our two-part storytelling InterPlay workshops, we gathered in a circle for a guessing game. Each student had researched a different animal indigenous to the Emory campus and had kept their animal "top secret." In this activity, students took turns presenting a behavior and one informational sentence (or hint) about their animal. Everyone repeated the animal behavior and tried to guess the animal. Often several other hints had to be provided before the animal could be identified. The students' enthusiasm, lack of self consciousness, and engaged presence was very rewarding to the professor (Tony Martin) and me, the facilitator.  (photo by Tony Martin)
THE EMORY CAMPUS. Here is the Math and Science Building, the site of our storytelling InterPlay workshops on this sunny fall week in October 2016 on the lovely Emory campus. (photo by Ruth Schowalter, aka Hallelujah Truth)
TELLING A STORY FROM A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE! I'm so grateful to these trusting students who allowed themselves to be engaged in improvisational exercises. Here we are embodying a squirrel. Students chose a living animal or inanimate object from their "sit spot" on the Emory University campus to embody in this freshman seminar, "How to Interpret Behavior You Did Not See." In the first workshop, I introduced InterPlay babbling and big body stories. I loved seeing the students' confidence grow as they had fun moving from partner to partner. At the end of the class, each student shared what he/she had chosen to embody from his/her sit spot and create a movement for us to repeat. Lots of deer appeared, a fish, two dead trees, a blade of grass, a clam, etc. The movements were inventive and fun to follow!(photo by Tony Martin)
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Thanks to InterPlay co-founders, Cynthia Winton-Henry and Phil Porter for this sneaky deep improvisational system that fosters and supports authentic communication. Deep gratitude to my life partner, Tony Martin, who is an excellent science communicator. He has helped me grow in my communication skills and capacity as an instructor. Thank you for making education and science outreach fun! You inspire me!

Other blogposts about my work with InterPlay and “How to Interpret Behavior You Did Not See”

April 11, 2016

November 6, 2014

Other blogposts on how I use InterPlay for Science Communication and Outreach:

October 2016

March 2016

Saturday, October 29, 2016

October 1st An International Day of InterPlay

Dear Friends,
As October winds down I'm thinking about how rich this month was with InterPlay.  It all started on October 1st with the International Day of InterPlay- a FUNdraiser.

We gathered at the Alternate Roots Office to celebrate InterPlay in Atlanta and across the world!

Jennifer, Christine & Ruth doing a side-by-side story to embody what Atlanta InterPlay has been working & playing with in our community!  

The SoulPrint Players, under the direction of Jennifer Denning, performed.  Here Vivian was the lead for a Foundation Decoration Song about doves/peace.

We had a "Hoopla!" to celebrate the recent Life Practice Graduates.  Karimah is dancing through the hoop!

We celebrated Al Lingo, 2016 Spirit of InterPlay Awardee!

Al telling us a big-body story about his Civil Rights work.

We connected via the internet with InterPlayers around the globe.  Here is Ruth excited to connect with Cynthia Winton-Henry, co-founder of InterPlay in Oakland, CA.

At the end of our celebration we went outside and participated in  a social action project coordinated by Ruth, Carolyn Renee and Callahan with the Red Sand Project to remember those who have fallen through the cracks with human trafficking, homelessness, etc. 

I'm so grateful for all of our guests that attended and played with us.  I want to give thanks to everyone who helped and supported this event especially my co-organizer Jennifer and Sharon who came and made the space beautiful! Thanks go to Alternate Roots for the use of their beautiful office and for granting us a Rhizome grant to help with food. Grateful for the money we raised that goes to support regional events including our upcoming leaders.  Thanks go to Dean Hess & Tony Martin for taking great pictures & Lachlan Brown for being out go-to tech support again this year.  And more than ever so full of gratitude for this beautiful community of Interplayers.  

In Peace & Play,


P.s. Click on the link to the video that shows more fun pictures!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Light Gets In: A Workshop with Leah Mann

LIGHT GETS IN with LEAH MANN. The Mask Center, Little 5 Points Community Center, October 2016. (photo by Ruth Schowalter).
Ring the bells that still ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in.
-Leonard Cohen

Written by Ruth Schowalter, Certified InterPlay Leader
On Friday, October 21, metro-Atlanta folks were invited to spend two hours with international performer and InterPlayer Leah Mann to explore the “cracks” in their lives—inside and out—and to examine “pathways of light” coming through to heal those fissures.

Hosted by InterPlay Atlanta at the Mask Center in the Little Five Points Community Center, Leah used the container of InterPlay as a way to launch a group of a dozen participants into investigations about their lives and the wider world in the workshop, “Light Gets In.”

In the first hour, Leah led us gently and incrementally in warming up our bodies and voices. Along with using the “primary colors” of movement—thrust, swing, hang, and shape—we were offered the opportunity to reflect on our emotions and situations in our lives associated with these movements. Leah explains, “I combined some of the ideas of Julie Motz, reiki master and author, about where emotions flow or are held in the body.”

Following this deep investigation into our bodies and spirits through movement, we then found ourselves making a community sound standing around in a circle, with some participants creating new sounds while others became historians repeating rhythms or words offered by others.

In the second hour of our workshop, with thoroughly warmed up bodies and voices and after connecting with one another, Leah guided us into making inquiries and collecting data about ourselves, our communities, and the world on the complicated theme of “systemic shatterings.” In word, sound, and movement, we explored our “groan zones” and “shatter zones.” We created a “scar inventory” and played around with “sitting in my discomfort.”
SHATTERINGS & THE CONCEPT OF "KITSUGI". In pairs, we told organic stories about things in our lives that remained broken or had been repaired (photo by Ruth Schowalter).
SCAR INVENTORY. With a witness, each of us had an opportunity to dance with our scars (photo by Ruth Schowalter).
SITTING IN MY DISCOMFORT. Leah invited us to "sit in our discomfort," explaining that it is important to be patient and to be awake for the next right step as we awaken to systems in the world that are breaking down and need to be dismantled (photo by Ruth Schowalter).
During our “babbling” or “short telling” sequence, many of us gratefully received Leah’s offering of the concept of the Japanese art form of “kitsugi” (mending pottery with gold) as metaphor for healing that which has been broken. The broken vessel is not only stronger but also has more value.

Two hours were too short to travel this trajectory of “shatterings” in relationship to our personal experiences and current events. I wonder what other discoveries I would have made had we been able to spend a third hour together! What stories might I have heard from other participants or would I have shared of my own. Leah expressed her thoughts on this: “It was just two hours. I think a minimum for this sort of exploration could be three hours or longer. A ‘walk about’ on a theme like this could have taken more than an hour.”
LIGHT GETS IN PARTICIPANTS WITH LEAH MANN. (photo by anonymous workshop participant)
There is mystery in movement, voice, story, and shape and stillness. Leah Mann is a magician, a genius, and a gentle guiding force—one who can create the container for play, insight, and healing to occur. Thank you Leah for this offering to the InterPlay Atlanta community and metro-Atlanta area. I hope you will return and spend more time with us on this theme, “Light Gets In.” It is important work!

“InterPlay has been a huge part of my personal development work as an activist, artist and human being. The system is a powerful platform for deep inquiry.” –Leah Mann

About Leah Mann: Leah lives in Vashon, Washington, but has strong ties to Atlanta, having moved here after her father retired from the Army. She returns regularly to visit her mother, who lives in College Park and to continue her work as the co-founder and artistic director emeritus of the urban outreach program, Moving in the Spirit. Leah now co-directs Lelavision Physical Music. With her partner Ela Lamblin, she tours internationally, performing a hybrid genre combining kinetic music inventions animated through music and dance in simultaneity. She teaches movement, rhythm and instrument making from ordinary objects with a wide variety of populations from a base of improvisation informed primarily by the InterPlay technique. Check out her website: www.lelavision.com