Monday, July 7, 2014

INTERPLAY WORKSHOP #2 (March 2014) WITH SHEILA COLLINS: Saying Yes and Finding the "thing"!

THE ATLANTA INTERPLAY PERFORMANCE GROUP.  This is our March 2014 InterPlay Performance Workshop with Sheila Collins. (photo by Ruth Schowalter)
By Ruth Schowalter InterPlay Leader-in-Training

InterPlay is a big ‘YES,’” proclaimed Sheila Collins at the second performance workshop she facilitated for Atlanta InterPlay (see this blog about our first workshop) at the Mask Theater in the Little Five Points Community Center in March 2014.

Sheila instructed us to look for the “Yes” in our own bodies and in our troupe of fellow InterPlayer performers. In addition to taking “cues” for words from our creative movement, we also practiced “ecstatically” following one another in both movement and vocalization.

To build a performance, an InterPlay troupe works with a “theme,” one that is chosen ahead of time and then developed with input from the audience. For example, if a performance is being done for an environmental group, a variety of nautre-related words or phrases—such as relaxing, endangered, fun, climate change—might be gathered from the audience and used throughout the performance.

For our second InterPlay workshop with Sheila, we chose to play with the word, “creativity.” What might be our stories surrounding this word?
HELLO! MY NAME IS...I'M FROM....  Christine Gautreaux introduces herself at the beginning of the Pittsburgh form brought to us by Sheila Collins. (photo by Ruth Schowalter)
We began playing with “creativity” using the “Pittsburgh” form—one that involves the entire InterPlay troupe. One InterPlayer begins a movement, which everyone on stage follows ecstatically. 
ECSTATIC FOLLOWING IN THE PITTSBURGH FORM.  Atlanta InterPlay Director, Jennifer Denning creates a new movement after introducing herself. (photo by Ruth Schowalter)
Then one player steps into the “spotlight,” introduces him/herself (name and city), says something about the theme (in this case, creativity), and generates a new movement and leaves the performance space, after the rest of the performers, who have been “holding” a shape while the spotlighted performer speaks, replicate the newly introduced move.  These steps are repeated until each performer has introduced him/herself and said something about the theme.
SIMULTANEOUS STORIES WITH A THIRD PERSON.  Here two InterPlayers tell their stories about "The Scariness of Creativity" while Sheila Collins moves. (photo by Ruth Schowalter)
Next in our workshop, we played around with a form called a “Simultaneous Story.” In this form, two people tell their own stories, yes, at the same time—simultaneously! And to spice it up, Sheila added a "mover" to the two story tellers. This time, the performance theme of “creativity” gets approached from a different angle—“The Scariness of Creativity”! The two storytellers are instructed to speak playing around with the following ideas:

  • repeating the words or movements of the other,
  • traveling around the performance space,
  • using silence, and
  • finding an ending.
 Sheila advised us that making a story shorter rather than longer and that finding an end or resolution doesn’t necessarily mean a “happy ending.”

After the simultaneous stories, we had the opportunity to see how a group of five people could perform together on the topic of “The Fire of Creativity.” Two people stood on the side of the performance space and chanted while three people moved. The progression of this performance occurred in this manner:
  • The players began by taking a solo shape then moving by themselves.
  • The chanters started after the movement and in response to it.
  • Then the movers found a way to interact with one another.
  • The form was completed when stillness was found.
Sheila’s performance workshop concluded with a whole-group performance, during which we moved in and out of the performance space as we wished—everyone could be performing, or five, three, two or one could be performing, the number of players shift continuously.
PLAY WITH YOUR BASKETBALL BRAINS. When moving together as a group, we are asked to think about spatial relationships and are invited to create the "dramatic diagonal." (photo by Ruth Schowalter)
During this last form, Sheila reminded us to think with our “basketball” brains, asking us to see how we were creating a range of movements in our performance space and paying attention to concepts of the “dramatic diagonal” and “spatial relationships.”

The fun part of this last performance activity?  It is looking for what we are learning to call “the thing.”  As a “group body,” each one of us performers gradually recognizes “the thing” that emerges out of what we are doing together. Ecstatically following occurs and our performance gains a “rehearsed” polish while remaining improvisational movement!

Our performance workshop with Sheila ended with us being energized from experiencing an individual and big body YES! InterPlay is, indeed, a big YES!
YES and FINDING THE THING! Here I am between two InterPlayers from Asheville, North Carolina, and I am say "YES" and finding "The Thing." (photo by an InterPlayer Performer)

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