Saturday, March 14, 2015

WE ARE ONE BODY: Warrior Mother Sheila K. Collins unites us all at her book performance with Soulprint Players

CELEBRATING THE WARRIOR MOTHER. On March 13, 2015, Sheila K. Collins performed her book, Warrior Mother, in Atlanta, Georgia, with the support of InterPlay Atlanta's Soulprint Players. (photo by Callahan Pope McDonough)
by Ruth Schowalter, certified InterPlay leader

"We are one body," proclaims Sheila K. Collins as she delivers her life's story written in the book, Warrior Mother: Fierce Love, Unbearable Loss, and Rituals that Heal, at the Mask Center in the Little Five Points Community Center, Atlanta, Georgia.
INTRODUCING THE STORY. With the audience on her right and the Soulprint Players on her left, Sheila stands center stage at the Mask Center and begins her story after having the audience watch the video about her book on their mobile phones. Here is the video link. (photo by Ruth Schowalter)

In sharing her story of losing two adult children, one to AIDS and the other to breast cancer, Sheila emphasizes the importance of the community body to help an individual to sing and tell stories that are too large to bear alone. "The weight of one person's story becomes lighter," she says. 

And Sheila knows. Her 31-year-old son, Kenneth died of AIDS, and seven years later, her daughter, Corinne, died of breast cancer. In 2013, Warrior Mother, her journey through this unimaginable loss to healing and joy, was published.  Merging InterPlay forms with a "book reading," Sheila, now in her 70s, has shared her story of grief and loss with many communities around the world. 

The evening at the Mask Center was spent with Sheila moving between reading from the pages of her book and inviting InterPlay Atlanta Soulprint Players to expand the themes through performance. Below are some of the performance highlights:
THE WARRIOR MOTHER DANCE. Members of the Soulprint Players learn the "Warrior Mother Dance" from Sheila. Punctuated with voiced "huhs," the stomping performers energized the room--the community body--with their repetitive mother warrior dance back and forth around the stage. (photo by Ruth Schowalter)
WHAT GOOD CAN COME FROM THIS? Asking several Soulprint Players to join her in singing the phrase, "What good can come from this?," Sheila engaged three other performers to move. Audience members witnessed the transformation of an anguished plea to find meaning out of loss and death (What good can come of this?) to a triumphant proclamation--GOOD CAN COME OF THIS. (photo by Ruth Schowalter)
THE THINGS PEOPLE DON'T TELL YOU. As Sheila moves to the part of her book about being in the presence of her son as he is dying, she explains that there are things people don't tell you, things you have to find out for yourself. She and her family had been told to keep her son comfortable in his last hours, but that was it. She had to discover how to be with her son as he passed away. In this InterPlay form, Sheila invited her husband, Rich Citrin, to do a side-by-side story with her. Taking turns until their stories were completed, one moved while they other told a story about things that people don't tell you. (photos by Ruth Schowalter)
TOGETHER WE ARE ONE BODY. Sheila and Rich came together at the end of their story telling and movement. It was clear to the audience that these two had spent years in this dance around death, loss, healing and joy.  Yet, at the same time, there was a freshness to this moment, to this story told in community. All of us felt nurtured, moved, perhaps healed. Ahhhh, we are one body, aren't we! (photo by Callahan Pope McDonough)
Other book performances of "Warrior Mother" with Sheila K. Collins in Atlanta:

Warrior Mother Sheila Collins
Dancing social worker, Sheila Collins does a performance of her book at the Alta Senior Living Center and then participates in a program on managing grief at Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasting.

Performing Warrior Mother
Sheila brings her book performance to the Darnell Multipurpose Senior Center (May 2014)
GOOD CAN COME FROM THIS! Thank you Sheila Collins! (photo by Callahan Pope McDonough)

1 comment:

  1. Great blog Ruth! You captured the beauty and spirit of last night's performance beautifully!