Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Chat with Jennifer Denning about InterPlay and “Secrets”

Interview by Ruth Schowalter, social media facilitator for Atlanta InterPlay
For the first time, “Secrets of InterPlay” came to Atlanta in 2013!
Cynthia Winton-Henry and Sheila Collins facilitated this event from
October 24th through the 27th. Before they arrived in Atlanta, I got together with Jennifer Denning, Atlanta’s InterPlay leader to find out a little bit more about this workshop that InterPlay calls an “untensive.”

Ruth Schowalter: What is InterPlay?

Jennifer Denning: What IS InterPlay? InterPlay is a series of forms that invite movement, song, story telling and stillness.

Ruth Schowalter: What is Secrets?

Jennifer Denning: The Secrets of InterPlay is the long weekend
immersion into the InterPlay philosophy. During Secrets, participants will play with all of the basic forms key to InterPlay. They will also be experientially introduced to what wecall the body wisdom tools of InterPlay.

Ruth Schowlater: Can you elaborate?

Jennifer Denning: The tools consist of simple practices and shifts in awareness that aim to increase connection, joy, empowerment, and human sustainability. These tools are some of what InterPlay cofounders, Cynthia Winton-Henry and Phil Porter, have discovered create that within in human beings and communities. The tools of InterPlay inform the way InterPlay is taught. They can help to shift our awareness to an open space of possibility that honors our body wisdom.
Ruth Schowalter: As an InterPlay leader, you did Secrets as part of your training. Can you share some of your experiences?

Jennifer Denning: Secrets was the first InterPlay event I ever attended. I had been working with theater as a means for creating community. I was interested in the power of the expressive arts to facilitate this. So there was a bit of synchronicity when I
received an issue of the Utne Reader--although my subscription had long since ended--with an article about Phil Porter and Cynthia Winton-Henry, the co-founders of InterPlay.

I read the article about InterPlay and had a immediate sense of connection. They were working with movement in the same way that I was working with it in theater. I went online and found out that Secrets was being offered the next month in Nashville. I signed up without hesitation.

Ruth Schowalter: What was the experience like for you?

Jennifer Denning: My experience of doing Secrets was this gradual opening up of who I am. I love to play creatively, that is just a part of who I am. But what really struck me was how it opened my heart so easily. By the end of Secrets, I had pretty much played with everyone. I was wide open through play. InterPlay really respects every “body”… to let a person do what they need when they need it, so there is nothing forceful about the play. It was so refreshing to approach health in this lighter way.

Ruth Schowalter: How is Secrets different from one of the InterPlay sessions that you and Debra Weir have offered in Atlanta?

Jennifer Denning: Well, of course, it’s longer (a playshop is typically two hours long), so it goes deeper, and you are playing with the same people throughout the weekend. I found that there is a creative “practice” to InterPlay. That is, you get to practice what you learn, and then you surprise yourself by working that creative muscle. As we discussed, Secrets also introduces all of the “body wisdom tools.”

Ruth Schowalter: Who might want to come to InterPlay?

Jennifer Denning: Anybody. There are so many different angles…anyone seeking more spontaneity in their lives, or folks wanting to learn how to be more connected in their communities. Some people might want to liberate their own body wisdom and develop their creativity. Every “body” is different, and you get to see what your body wants to express to feel whole.

Ruth Schowalter: Looking ahead after Secrets takes place in October, what else will InterPlay be offering in Atlanta?

Jennifer Denning: In January 2014, InterPlay’s Sheila Collins returns to Atlanta for the Life Practice Program. But before that in November, I will be offering an InterPlay event that will give participants pre-holiday intentional time to affirm and soak in the good stuff around the holidays, to savor the things we enjoy and to create space for the crazy making that can happen. I’m really excited because there are Atlanta folks showing up, as well as people from nearby cities. This is the first step to bringing InterPlay into their communities.

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