Tuesday, March 18, 2014

WARRIOR MOTHER SHEILA COLLINS: Atlanta InterPlay hosts the dancing social worker author

AFTER THE BOOK PERFORMANCE.  Following Sheila K. Collins' performance of Warrior Mother at the Alta Senior Living Center, some of the audience members lingered to talk with the author and to pose for this picture. (photos by Ruth Schowalter)
--by Ruth Schowalter, Atlanta InterPlay social media facilitator

Sheila K. Collins wears many hats and all with joyful ease of someone who has been doing InterPlay for a long time. While visiting Atlanta to facilitate InterPlay’s “Life Practice Program,” Sheila spent one day using InterPlay forms to perform her book, Warrior Mother: Fierce Love, Unbearable Loss, and Rituals that Heal (2013).
The Alta Senior Living Center
 At a book performance Sheila introduces herself as a “dancing social worker,” which always succeeds in intriguing her audience, and those in her audience at the Alta Senior Living Center in John’s Creek, an Atlanta suburb, were no exception. Their interest heightened to see where this 74-year-old author was going to take her dancing social work at the launching of their very first book club meeting. They were not disappointed.
NEW BOOK CLUB KICK OFF.  Sheila had the honor of being the first author for the seniors' newly launched book club. Two of the audience members had already read her book, Warrior Mother, and were ready with questions. Sheila promised she would return for another book club meeting in the future for a more in-depth discussion.
Sheila’s book readings are unique in that they combine explanation, reading, music, dance, and other InterPlayers. Jennifer Denning, Atlanta InterPlayer Director, Christine Gautreaux, and I were there at the Alta Senior Living Center to assist in the performances based on themes that Sheila pulls from her book. These meaningful themes, which include mothering, children, death, and joy, thoroughly engage the audience members who soon discover they are in the presence of a woman who has lost two adult children to disease and found a way to survive their deaths.
After her book performance at the Alta Senior Living Center, Sheila had an engagement with Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters (AIB) in the heart of downtown Atlanta. With Christine managing interstate traffic on a cold rainy day, Sheila arrived at AIB just in time for filming. Audrey Galex, a free-lance producer for AIB-TV and an Atlanta InterPlayer, had invited Sheila to participate in a panel discussion about managing grief.

AIB Producer Audrey Galex and Sheila
The short but very interesting panel discussion concluded with Sheila using a form of InterPlay to give viewers a “taste” of what her book, Warrior Mother, is about.  Combining storytelling with movement, she was supported by three other InterPlayers (Audrey, Christine and me), who echoed her movements.

Each time Sheila performs her book, the performance is different. The variation results from the improvisational nature of the InterPlay tools. When Sheila returns to Atlanta in May and does other book performances, I encourage you to check one out. You’ll never think of an author reading in the same way again or the themes that she brings to the stage.
AIB PANEL PARTICIPANTS.  Producer Audrey Galex (far left) assembled artist Carolyn Rose Milner (left center) life coach Lori Davila (right center), and Sheila K. Collins to discuss their different approaches to managing grief.

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