Thursday, March 31, 2016

InterPlay at The Friendship Center: Playing in the Pews

By Jennifer Denning, founder of InterPlay Atlanta

"I  could talk about 'Hi-Ho Silver!'" is often how John, one of the participants in the InterPlay class at The Friendship Center at Holy Comforter church checks into the group. 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.  John loves the Lone Ranger. While warming up our voices John often says the vocal expression reminds him of the Lone Ranger, and he makes sounds the Lone Ranger might make. John is free with his voice and happy to share. His movements are sometimes limited, but he sits when he needs to and always lends a hand to the dance.
Warming up our bodies at Holy Comforter Church
-photo by Ruth Schowalter
Derrick is often shy, but he reaches for the drum when we bring instruments for our singing. Slightly built and often tentative, he watched us from the pews for many weeks before joining in our play. Now he is a regular, and I often see a small smile emerge on his face during our time together.

Donald, an older gentleman, is a minister who likes to bring prayer to the end of our InterPlay sessions. While InterPlay is a secular program, we make space for this time of closure which is meaningful to our participants at The Friendship Center. We hold our InterPlay class in the church sanctuary where the Vicar of the church, Alexis Chase, has welcomed us to dance between the pews and play behind the pulpit. Our bodies, voices, stories and hearts fill the space with Spirit.

Thank you to Alexis Chase for envisioning the value of InterPlay at The Friendship Center and inviting us into this amazing program!

1 comment:

  1. Oh Jennifer! You have captured so magnificently some of the responses of the participants of InterPlay at Holy Comforter. InterPlay is such a gentle respectful improvisational system that gives John, Derrick, and Donald the freedom to be themselves while "playing" in community.