Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Art of Being Human: InterPlay Atlanta at The Friendship Center

By Ruth Schowalter, Certified InterPlay Leader

Beginning in October 2015, InterPlay Atlanta began offering InterPlay sessions twice a month at The Friendship Center, an outreach program of Holy Comforter Episcopal Church, a diverse worshipping community in the heart of Atlanta.

The tools and principles of InterPlay continue to surprise me in the way that they meld and fit the needs of different communities. One might say that InterPlay celebrates the "art of being human" in the way that its forms and principles honor each individual in each setting and catalyzes creativity. The Friendship Center is an inclusive community that promotes the mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing of adults marginalized by mental health challenges and by poverty who visit Holy Comforter to volunteer, work, learn, listen, and worship.
InterPlay Atlanta is grateful to be a part of the rich programming at The Friendship Center that includes “Greenhouse and Gardening,” “Wellness and Recovery,” “Recovery through the Arts and Food.” Find out more about The Friendship Center by clicking here.
GATHERING TO INTERPLAY. Jennifer Denning, certified InterPlay leader (left) waits for other participants to arrive before beginning the second InterPlay session at The Friendship Center of Holy Comforter in October. (photo by Ruth Schowalter--identification of participants forthcoming)
The Reverend of Holy Comforter, Alexis Chase, is familiar with the improvisational system of InterPlay from firsthand experience, and she invited our certified InterPlay Atlanta leaders to her community for sixty minutes of play on Thursday mornings from 10:30 to 11:30 AM every other week. After attending our first InterPlay session, which took place right there in the church, she expressed the good that she saw InterPlay contributing to the participants, and we asked her to write her observations down which resulted in the following testimonial: 
Reverend Alexis Chase

“So often, in the lives of those living with a mental health diagnoses and living in poverty, there is very little autonomy, very little choice. The gift and benefit of having Interplay here is that while playing everyone is given a chance to choose, they are all given a chance to express themselves. During Interplay our participants can watch, participate, dance, move, babble, or sit and their expressions are valued and lifted up. One recent participant said it was the best form of physical activity he had all week.  The creativity and free expression Interplay encourages fits with and enhances what The Friendship Center already does well.”

Masankho Kamsisi Banda
Our connection to Holy Comforter Episcopal Church deepened as the decision was made to bring Soulprint Players, InterPlay Atlanta’s performance troupe, for the performance, “The Art of Being Human,” on Sunday, November 8th, at 5:00 PM, to celebrate this community and to raise funds for ongoing InterPlay sessions. Then as Jennifer Denning, the director of Soulprint Players, was developing the concept for the November 8th performance, she was delighted to discover that the International InterPlay Leader and Storyteller, Masankho Kamsisi Banda, was going to be visiting Atlanta and would be able to be a guest performer at this celebratory event.
SOULPRINT PLAYERS & MASANKHO. InterPlay performs "The Art of Being Human" at the Friendship Center of Holy Comforter Church.
We look forward to our connection continuing to deepen with this community in the upcoming months and invite you to join us for our November 8th performance from 5:00 to 6:00 PM at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church at 737 Woodland Ave SE, Atlanta, Georgia, 30316. Suggested donation: $10 to $50 (Be affordable but generous, as $100 in donations will support one month of InterPlay at The Friendship Center).
ENERGIZED. When asked how they felt at the end of the InterPlay hour, one of the participants answered, "energized." (Photo credit and identification of participants forthcoming)

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