Saturday, November 22, 2014

TA DA! Soulprint Players' Premier Performance

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE SOULPRINT PLAYERS! Sunday, November 16th, 2014, is a significant date in InterPlay Atlanta's history! Its performance group, Soulprint Players, had their premier performance! (photo by Dean Hesse)
by Ruth Schowalter, InterPlay Leader-in-Training

Ta da! The Soulprint Players have launched themselves in Atlanta! On Sunday, November 16th, 2014, InterPlay Atlanta's director, Jennifer Denning, introduced the performance group to its Atlanta community with a fundraiser for the Atlanta Foodbank on the theme of "gratitude."

Two weeks before Thanksgiving, after little more than nine months, five performance workshops with Sheila K. Collins and Phil Porter, and a number of rehearsals, the Soulprint Players danced, sang, and told stories for an hour.
ARRIVING AN HOUR BEFORE THE PERFORMANCE! Soulprint Player Christine Gautreaux came early to prep for the performance, arriving with drums, an easel and notepad, and her supportive husband and InterPlayer Joe! (photo by Ruth Schowalter)
This performance was significant in several ways. In addition to being the Soulprint Players' premier, it also represented a logical outcome and a fulfillment of a dream for InterPlay Atlanta's director, Jennifer Denning (read her blog on this topic, "On Being Seen"). This first performance also served in giving our InterPlay Atlanta community a center or a heart--a way of being together, going deeper, and serving the community.
ELICITING TOPICS ON GRATITUDE FROM THE AUDIENCE! InterPlayer Christine Gautreaux writes down the topics Jennifer Denning elicits from the audience. We used these topics for our performances! (photo by Dean Hesse)
Our one-hour performance evaporated quickly and magically. Ta da! After playing around with audience-given topics related to gratitude such as laughter, babies, health, growing old, and turkeys, we took our final bows. We had told side-by-side stories, participated in two gesture choirs, witnessed a big body story, done the Pittsburgh form, sung with the audience, and much more.

Please enjoy this slide show of our evening. The photos were taken by Dean Hesse, the music is Karen Drucker's, and the slide show was created by me, Ruth Schowalter.

Those of us who could went to a local watering hole after our performance to toast our achievement! Congratulations Soulprint Players! Congratulations Jennifer Denning!

Monday, November 17, 2014

On Being Seen

By Jennifer Denning

The greater purpose is that we're communing together and we want this moment to be really special for all of us. Because otherwise, why bother to have come at all? It's not about proving anything. It's about sharing something.

- Yo-Yo Ma

When I was a child I delighted in putting on puppet shows and plays for my family. My family tells stories about me entertaining guests around the campfire with my comedic impersonations. What is it about this need to be seen? To entertain? To perform?

Three sentence stories during "A Gratitude Evening" with the Soulprint Players
-photo by Dean Hesse
I studied acting in college and moved to Atlanta to pursue a career in theatre in my early 20’s. It was enlivening and difficult. Beautiful to play parts I connected with. Challenging to be cast in a role I couldn’t quite grasp, painful to lose a part I knew I could play, and underlying it all the need to be seen.

In my mid 20’s I explored a spiritual path that led me to ministry. I never wanted to stand up in front of a congregation every Sunday, but I did want to explore how the expressive arts and spirituality intersect. I delved into the path of releasing the need to be seen. I sat in meditation and touched glimpses of surrendering into that something more that doesn’t need outside validation. I danced and let the dance dance me. And this was beautiful, and challenging and painful. Beautiful to touch those moment of surrender. Challenging to face those needy parts of myself and painful to hold myself up to some idealized picture of what a “spiritual” person should be.

The Soulprint Players embracing our complicated humanity
-photo by Dean Hesse

Nearly fifteen years later I direct the Atlanta InterPlay performance group, the Soulprint Players. We had our first performance last night. The performance had moments of beauty, moments of laughter and moments of awkward humanity too. And here I sit this morning in complete happiness about it all. There is something about embracing the full soup of myself that frees me, makes me kinder, renders me more whole. Yes, I am a part of the great “I am!," And yes, I am a complicated human being too! What a gift to share the full range of our bodyspirited humanness with each other.

There is still a part of me that wants to be seen, that part of me doesn't need to go away,  but alongside it rests this larger impulse- this shift of perspective that simply allows myself to be seen, This expansive self also delights in seeing you. InterPlay performance is not a demand to be looked at; it is a willingness to be seen- it is a gift, a joy, a communion.

So grateful.

Monday, November 10, 2014

SOULPRINT PLAYERS: A week before InterPlay Atlanta's performance troupe premier

by Ruth Schowalter, InterPlay Leader-in-Training

The Soulprint Players gathered together a week before their premier performance in the InterPlay Atlanta community to "rehearse." The parentheses around "rehearse" is so you know that InterPlayer performers come together to play with one another and to become familiar with the InterPlay forms. However, at its heart, InterPlay is all about improvisation--making things up in the moment. 
Jennifer Denning

Jennifer Denning has waved her magic wand and created the Soulprint Players in less than a year. Beginning on Friday, January 24th, 2014, we had our first performance workshop with Sheila Collins (see this blog, Atlanta InterPlay is Forming a Performance Group). Now, on Sunday, November 16, 2015, Soulprint Players are giving their first performance on the theme of "gratitude." 

On the Sunday before our premier performance, the Soulprint Players ran through a practice of what it is like to work with a theme and topics given from the audience. Our rehearsal theme was "freedom." 

Here are a few photos from our two-hour play with the the theme of freedom:
WARMING UP WITH WALK, RUN, STOP. (all photos by Ruth Schowalter)
Although each InterPlay form is beautiful and compelling in its own way, some times one form might happen to take your breath away. Its improv. And in improv, depending on the theme, the players, and the ephemeral moment, something breathtaking happens! On this Sunday "rehearsal," it was the contact duet that captured my fascination.


At intervals, we took moments from movement to notice what we were experiencing while playing with one another and the forms. I was feeling particularly awkward in the practices with contact InterPlay. The rubber on my tennis shoes was not allowing me to move smoothly on the wooden floor and resulted in my feeling like I was stumbling--thus, making a mistake. In our noticings, much discussion ensued my concern around stumbling.

Perhaps if I were to release judgment, the "clumsy" movement I made could be experienced as a change in intention. Since our dance is not choreographed, it is my choice how I want to accommodate an unexpected glitch. One of the players said to me, "It's how you decide to present yourself--that's what's beautiful. Viewers can even have 'movement empathy' identifying with you." 

InterPlay is a journey of self discovery taken through choices made as you play. Come see how InterPlay Atlanta's Soulprint Players make choices in response to the words or ideas you offer us.

Once again our event is Sunday, November 16th, 2014, at 8:00 at the Mask Center in the Little Five Points Community Center. We are accepting donations of $10, which will go towards supporting both Soulprint Players and the Atlanta Foodbank.

Monday, November 3, 2014

25 Plus Ways to Play All Year: Celebrating InterPlay's 25th birthday from now to October 25th 2015

#6 of 25+ Ways to Play. "Put up your hand. Bless and connect with somebody through space." (photo by Ruth Schowalter)
by Ruth Schowalter, InterPlay Leader-in-Training

Happy Birthday InterPlay! What a wonderful celebration we InterPlayers had nation wide across the United States marking 25 years of InterPlay! Here in Atlanta, we enjoyed a warm sunny green space in Grant Park at InterPlayer Sharon Leverning's home (read about it here in a post Christine Gautreaux wrote).

Let's celebrate InterPlay all year, from now until October 25th, 2015 and see what happens! What way will you play to celebrate 25 years of InterPlay? No worries mate! Here's a beautiful fun list, "25 Plus Ways to Play for InterPlay's 25th Anniversary," created by InterPlay's very own co-founder, Cynthia Winton-Henry:
25 Ways to Play to Celebrate #interplay25! Guests who attended InterPlay Atlanta's 25 Years of InterPlay FUNdraiser received their very own copy on how to play and celebrate. (photo by Christine Gautreaux)

1.      Video 30 seconds of following and leading in your school or workplace!
2.      Hashtag all things InterPlay with #interplay25 to find other celebrations.
3.      Start a story chain to honor playful leading in your area.
4.       Dance on behalf of anything that’s hard to talk about. Consider it prayer.
5.      Walk stop and run as a meditation on the street.
6.      Put up your hand: bless and connect with someone through space.
7.      Take part in an IP stunt video in an iconic place. Send to to share on the 25th of any month.
8.      Speak in a made-up language on a conference call if asked how your day is.
9.      Post a pic with your flaps up on the InterPlay FB page.
10.   InterPlay with another species. Post on Facebook! (Interspecies InterPlay!)
11.   Attend a Wing It! Performance or plan your own performance celebration!
12.   Lead InterPlay at your favoritest place on Earth.
13.   Join the wing project. Make paper feathers and write how IP gave you wings. Mail to InterPlayce 2273 Telegraph, Oakland, Ca 94612.
14.   Collage or Paint on behalf of InterPlay. Post on the anniversary FB page.
15.   Love your body. Use the InterPlay warm-up before meditating.
16.   Post the weirdest places to InterPlay.
17.   Nominate celebrities who need InterPlay or may do it naturally.
18.   Shake out what you're sitting on– sitting is the new smoking!
19.   Walk backwards and say thank you in a crowded room.
21.   Sing fake opera to protest something that needs to change.
22.   Get 2+ people to do a Wheeee in a stressful moment!
23.   Blog about InterPlay. Link to the Facebook Page.
25.   Use your power of attraction. Say, "InterPlay rocks my world. Alas, since there’s no way to describe it, come play if you want to know me."
26.   Affirm someone magical, graceful, expressive, kind, or true.
27.   Add comments and photos to InterPlay’s FB page.
28.   Add your own ideas...and share with #interplay25
PLAYFULLY CELEBRATING #INTERPLAY25. Christine Gautreaux and I joyfully InterPlayed together the Thursday morning before Halloween in the Atlanta Botanical Garden. We walked, breathed, played, studied InterPlay (we are IntePlay leaders-in-training), and took these photographs to post. (photo by Atlanta Botanical Garden volunteer)
Christine Gautreaux and I have created our first playful celebration commemorating #interplay25 combining several of these: 3) dancing on behalf of (see my blog about this on Coffee with Hallelujah); 6) put up your hand and connect through space; 7)making a slideshow in an iconic place.

Here is our play photographed in the Atlanta Botanical Garden:

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Celebrating #InterPlay25

Dear friends,

Young InterPlayers who colored our welcome sign! (Photo by Ruth Schowalter)
At this time last week our Atlanta InterPlay community was in the midst of a great celebration!     

We gathered together in Sharon's beautiful backyard for the 25th Anniversary of InterPlay FUNdraiser.

The beautiful outdoor luncheon space. (Photo by Christine Gautreaux)
Over 25 people came together to connect, to play and to celebrate InterPlay in their lives.

Guests were greeted with over 25 ways to celebrate InterPlay (framed by +Hallelujah Truth ) and were able to take a copy home as a thank you gift.

Supplies to give us "wings!" (Photo by Christine Gautreaux)
We were all invited to play with the prompt, "InterPlay (or art) has given me wings too...." as part of a nationwide art project.

One of the feathers a guest created! (Photo by Christine Gautreaux)

We had a lovely and delicious lunch of fresh salad, homemade butternut squash soup, bread, olives, cheese and yummy chocolate and brownies for dessert!

Soyinka Rahim, a visiting InterPlay leader from Oakland, led us in the chant, "Thank you Love!" as we transitioned from lunch to the program.

Singing along with InterPlayers across the nation via the internet. (Photo byRuth Schowalter)
We were able to connect briefly with Oakland, CA where InterPlay was started by Phil Porter & Cynthia Winton-Henry!  We sang along as a bridge was built between the home office and regional InterPlay groups across the nation!

Circling up for some outdoor play time! (Photo by Tony Martin)

When we started having technical challenges we gathered outside to play in the beautiful sunshine!  Jennifer Denning, our Regional Interplay director, led us in some babbling and a hand to hand dance.
Jennifer being backed up by Lynn, Christine & Ruth! (Photo by Tony Martin)

The program concluded with a Gesture Choir and Jennifer told a story of all the ways InterPlay is being used in our Atlanta Community!

The weather was beautiful, the company delightful and we are declaring the day a success!

Thank you to all who attended and special thanks to all of those who were able to donate to continue to support InterPlay and the important "work" they do in the world! 

Check out more pictures from this fun event at InterPlay Atlanta FB page.

In Peace and Play,

Christine Gautreaux, InterPlay Leader-In-Training

INTERPLAYING IN GRANT PARK: Soulprint Players warming up on a cold day!

SOULPRINT PLAYERS REHEARSAL. Grant Park, Atlanta, Georgia, November 1, 2014 (photo by Wade, husband of Sharon Levering)
by Ruth Schowalter, InterPlay Leader-in-Training
On Saturday, November 1, 2014, eight of the fourteen members of the Soulprint Players met to play together--or rehearse InterPlay style--for our premier performance on Sunday, November 16th. 

It was the first real cold day here in Atlanta, Georgia, and we were so fortunate to meet at the cozy home of InterPlayer Sharon Levering in the historic Grant Park. While gusting winds blew outside, we warmed up by telling stories, dancing and vocalizing on the behalf of those who are deceased. After all, it is the day after Halloween and the Day of the Dead, an appropriate time to honor those we have loved and who are no longer with us.

Since InterPlay uses improvisational tools, to prepare for a performance requires us to be present in the moment, ready to create on the spot, speaking from our "body wisdom"--that fascinating unity of body, mind, heart, and soul. InterPlay performers benefit by becoming familiar with other performers and their own responses to the prompts and InterPlay forms.
JOYCE KINNARD AND FLUTE. Joyce surprised us all by bringing a newly acquired flute to accompany some of our movement. Inspired last week by Soyinka Rahim, who played a flute at the celebration of 25 years of InterPlay, Joyce who plays musical instruments, decided it was time to try the flute. We were so pleased and surprised by the improvisational music she created for us. (photo by Ruth Schowalter)
 As we commemorated those who've died using InterPlay forms, we took time to "notice" and attend to what we were experiencing. We talked about learning to "trust" our bodies, to follow the movement that was asking to be expressed. For example, to be still, form a shape and hold it and keep it until we were ready to move again. "Trusting" our bodies to find a place to "end" the improvisational performance collectively--that's tricky but definitely an acquired skill to be gained by playing together regularly.

Expanding our understanding of "trust" continued as talked about how to speak out what we were "noticing." In the every day world, you might be tempted to call this "noticing"--feedback. And everyone knows that the best kind of feedback is twofold--positive and constructive (translate constructive to mean  negative). 

However, in InterPlay, we practice affirming ONLY the good. As performers play together, we "notice" all the things that "wow" us, make us feel connected, pull us in, and take us deeper. We leave those things aside that a "critic" might think important to highlight to demonstrate an inner criterion was not met.

In our practice today, after we told 3-sentence stories about a particular deceased person who impacted our lives, we danced on behalf of gifts that the deceased have given us. We played around with shape and stillness. In this kind of movement, we begin as solo dancers and as guided by our body wisdom find a way to connect with each other.
THREE DANCING ON BEHALF OF. (photo by Ruth Schowalter)
FIVE DANCING ON BEHALF OF. (photo by Christine Nichols Gautreaux)
In addition to "noticing" in InterPlay, we also "witness" one another. Today, in this rehearsal for the Soulprint Players, Jennifer Denning, our director, had us witness each other and our commemorations of the dead and themes such as patience and carefulness. One of the InterPlayers mentioned that as both a "mover" and a "witness" he experienced the movement of life, birthing freedom, the day of the dead, and reawakening. Awesome stuff!
VOCALIZATION AND DECORATION. We practiced playing with our voices in two groups of four. One person creates a foundation, leads the others who then break away and "decorate" the underlying rhythm of the foundation. (photo by Ruth Schowalter)
InterPlay play always surprises me. I always learn something about myself or others. 

Yes, we had fun! 

Yes we listened to ourselves and to others. 

We moved, sang, and told stories without knowing what we were going to do, sing, or say. 

But we trusted ourselves and other InterPlayers. 

In our creativity, both solo and collaboratively, we experienced freedom in the unknown, the "not" knowing.

Thank you InterPlay! Thank you Soulprint Players! Thank you Jennifer Denning!