Wednesday, July 9, 2014

INTERPLAY WORKSHOP #3 (May 2014) WITH SHEILA COLLINS: Creating a container and engaging the audience

GETTING IDEAS FROM THE AUDIENCE. Here InterPlay performer Christine Gautreaux takes notes as Pittsburgh InterPlayer Sheila K. Collins (far right) instructs Atlanta InterPlayers, (right to left) Jennifer Denning (Atlanta InterPlay Director), Kate Savannah (Asheville InterPlayer), and Sister Jewel (International InterPlayer) how to engage the audience. (photo by Ruth Schowalter)
by Ruth Schowalter, InterPlay Leader in Training

Yes! We Atlanta InterPlayers are fortunate to have Sheila K. Collins, the dancing social worker, author, and seasoned InterPlayer instructing us on how to develop as an InterPlay Performance Ensemble. On her third workshop, we focused on how to develop our relationship with the audience.

"Create a container and engage the audience," Sheila explained. "Welcome people. Get everyone to breathe and invite them to breathe with a noise or a sigh. This is one of InterPlay's root practices--breathing. We improve how we feel using oxygen. We are all people, and we need to breathe." 

After breathing together with the audience, Sheila instructed us InterPlay performers to continue warming up the audience getting them to move in their chairs by stretching, clapping, and stomping. We could play with rhythm and noise, dividing the audience in half to do one or the other. This kind of audience engagement is part of the InterPlay practice.

Once the audience is engaged, it is time to delve into their creativity and get ideas from them on the theme. For our purposes, we worked with the idea of "wild places in nature," and we experienced what  the audience members might feel while generating the ideas. We came up with the following cues or triggers for performance: wisdom, cycles, birds, trees, peace, and fragile.

We reviewed InterPlay practices of ecstatic following and leading, simplicity, and repetition. We played with the side-by-side story, the gesture choir, the big body story, the dance-talk 3, and the three-sentence story.
THE GESTURE CHOIR. Here Sheila tells a story that is too large for one body to hold or express it, so InterPlay performers echo her movements. "It's a billboard instead of a flyer," Sheila described this InterPlay form. (photo by Ruth Schowalter)
Atlanta InterPlay's third performance workshop concluded with these insights from Sheila: 

  • The more we play together, the more our bodies work together.
  •  The idea of the "aesthetic group collective" is that individual performers make sacrifices or choices that help shape the overall group performance.
  • "The Mystery of the Still Point" is an incredibly fascinating way to create moments of newness said Sheila. Watch the group creation and ask "Where do I have to be for something new to occur?" Be in a place of stillness, "hanging out in the sanctuary." Allow your hand to move, create a shape, use your whole body. Four to five performers hold shapes as long as possible, experiencing the psychological edge. "Go into that place and have the next movement occur from that place."
INTERPLAYERS REUNITE. InterPlayer Marquetta Dupree and her son, Zaire, visited us at the end of our performance workshop. As Jennifer Denning builds our Atlanta InterPlay Performance Ensemble, we are collecting InterPlayers in the Metro-Atlanta area. (photo by Ruth Schowalter)

If you want to read more about the Atlanta InterPlay Performance Workshops that Sheila Collins has conducted, check out these blogs:

ECSTATIC FOLLOWING: Learning what it means to be part of an InterPlay performance group! 


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

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