Monday, September 18, 2017

Soulprint Players Prepare for "Allies for Racial Equity" Conference

By Jennifer Denning

How does a bi-racial performance company prepare for an improvised performance at a Unitarian Universalist conference sponsored by the UU’s “Allies for Racial Equity?”

As the white director of this company, I find myself in an interesting position. I’m aware of the need to decentralize whiteness, and I’m also holding the responsibility of creating the structure for a performance that will be meaningful and effective for performer and audience alike.

My own journey of understanding systemic racism, the oppression of people of color and white privilege has come though self-education as well as honest communication across color lines. I have been sending articles to our white company members to deepen awareness, as well as inviting our POC company members to communicate what they need during this performance.

Soulprint Players rehearsal, photo by Ruth Schowalter

And so we move into new territory together with as much bumbling grace as we can, and I notice a new presence of realness emerging as we openly acknowledge difference and inequity and grapple together on how to create real change.

Personal story and connection, artistic expression of that which is “beyond words”, “exformation”- InterPlay’s tool for moving information out of the body, and embodied awareness are just some of the tools InterPlay offers in the movement towards racial justice. InterPlay creates a space where we can find our connection to possibility, flow and grace and then move wisely forward in our work for equity. InterPlay roots us in the present, where creative possibility dwells.

Come join us at the conference October 20-22. Let’s deepen awareness, explore creative possibilities and move into action for racial justice together!

Friday, June 2, 2017

2017 InterPlay People of Color Retreat

By Carolyn Renée

In 2016 at InterPlay's Leader's Gathering, Leader's of Color (LOC) met each morning for a breakfast check-in. It was the Racine LOC group who unilaterally decided we wanted a retreat to spend more time together, to express and share more with each other and other InterPlayers of color who were not there. We decided we wanted to use the retreat to get to learn more about other InterPlayers of color; to discuss issues of racism and isolation within and beyond the InterPlay context. A committee was formed, for which I was honored to serve as the lead organizer, and months were spent planning for a 2017 Memorial Day Weekend InterPlay People of Color Retreat.

Photo credit: Ade Anifowose

The months of planning by the committee paid off.  The POC Retreat was POWERFUL!  From the beginning until the end, love, laughter, tears of joy and delicious food. We began the opening night with dinner, then invited key POC/LOC unable to attend in person to join the opening ceremony via technology. We opened with drumming, singing and building a sacred altar; then moved into a powerful "Where I Come From" InterPlay Form Walk-about.  The foundation for the retreat was laid with these activities.

On Friday we began with breakfast, then transitioned to play in nature. This was powerful too. In the afternoon we explored Physicality of Grace. Instead of looking at stress in the body, we looked at racism and oppression in the body; and how the opposite feels in the body. In the evening we had Play Performances using InterPlay Forms.

Photo credit: Ade Anifowose

The remainder of the weekend brought so many gifts. We played in nature on Saturday, and later on in the morning leading into afternoon, InterPlay Leader, Soyinka Rahim led the group in sharing how POC experience InterPlay in our communities and in the larger InterPlay organization. Later on Saturday, Leah Mann, Seattle InterPlayer led the group in a rich combination of forms (Blind Babbling, Blind Physical Contact, and Dance of Behalf of).  This is where we explored Internalized Racial Oppression by pairing up, and one partner opened their eyes while the other closed theirs.  We ended Saturday with an unstructured Group Play. Fun!

The power of what we'd created was evident when one InterPlayer left a day early due do a work commitment. The evening of his departure, the committee decided we'd have participants do a walk and share what they leave with.  Just prior to the InterPlayer's departure we circled up to do an "In Circle Walk About" based on the phrase "I Leave With". The departing InterPlayer walked inside a POC Circle of pure love with tears streaming down his face, deeply staring into the soul of each InterPlayer in the circle.  Finally​, on Sunday we did a big group evaluation and wrap up.  We closed with a grand celebration of our anchors, Soyinka Rahim and Coke Tani; literally picking Coke up and holding her in suspended air for 10 minutes sharing affirmations ​of love and appreciation.

InterPlay's first ever People of Color Retreat was transformative and filled with love.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Atlanta InterPlay April Newsletter- Gratitude!

Give InterPlay Day Thank you!

Thank you to the Atlanta InterPlay community and beyond for supporting InterPlay projects in Atlanta on Give InterPlay Day! This once a year online giving event is a great boost to local InterPlay communities. In Atlanta we are grateful to have support for our programming at The Atlanta Pretrial Detention Center and Trinity House (see more info about that program below.)

Week after week InterPlayers and participants find connection, joy, stress-relief, and pathways of meaningful self-expression in these programs. We know that positive ways forward can be found more clearly when the body and mind are at ease. Thank you for your financial support as well as your gifts of encouragement and affirmation on this path. It makes a difference.

The InterPlay Life Practice Program
Time to register! Starts April 21st!

Community support, Play, Body Wisdom tools and individual attention= a space to grow, know and be in new ways! 

2016 Life Practice, photo Ruth Schowalter
  • Decrease stress and increase ease.
  • Make wiser, more grounded decisions.
  • Thrive by getting body, mind, heart and spirit to all work together.
  • Discover your hidden resources.
The InterPlay Life Practice Program is an active, creative way to change your life and change your world. Immerse yourself in the system of InterPlay-ideas and practices that can move you from where you are to where you     would like to be. 

InterPlay Partnership with Trinity House

"This building used to be a place where they prepared the dead for burial. Now, it's a place where the 'dead' are reborn." 

- Charles W., Resident of Trinity House-Big Bethel
InterPlay Atlanta has begun to work with Trinity Community Ministries, an organization that houses a 36-bed residential recovery program called Trinity House, which responds to the growing needs of men experiencing
InterPlayers Carolyn Renee' and Ade Adifowose at Trinity House
 homelessness. We are proud to offer InterPlay as a resource to help these men return to their families, their communities, and ultimately, to a better life. Our hope is that through this partnership, InterPlay Atlanta will become an essential component of Trinity Community Ministries' mission to promote the sustainable independence of those faced with homelessness, which typically stems from addiction or other disabilities. 

Community Building for Georgia Environmental Group

InterPlay Atlanta went to the 2017 Adopt-A-Stream's Volunteer Conference in March to bring together in conversation and play AAS volunteers, trainers, community partners, students and educators from across Georgia. Certified InterPlay leader Ruth Schowalter co-led the Friday evening social with her scientist husband Tony Martin from Emory University. Participants babbled about their watersheds, water monitoring teams, spoke from the perspective of their streams, became water flowing, running, and stopping and more.

Friday, February 17, 2017

InterPlaying with Chronos and Kairos Time

ALCHEMY OF THE SOUL, InterPlay at Congregation Bet Haverim
Written by Ruth Schowalter, M.S. Applied Linguistics & ESL, Certified InterPlay Leader

How can we play around TIME? Thank goodness for InterPlay, for it offers a way to embody both time and timelessness. “Dancing can dramatically shift our experience of time and space,” Cynthia Winton-Henry writes in her book, Dance-the Sacred Art. In her chapter, “Dancing into Wholeness,” she offers ways of playing around with  “chronos” and “kairos” time so that we can experience it in our bodies.
STORIES ABOUT TIME. We find that our story teller has a lot to say about time, time restraints, running out of time, lack of leisure time and more!
So it was on a Thursday night in February, that I offered a micro-play session on “fixed time” and “flying time” to my Atlanta community at the Congregation Bet Haverim in a monthly InterPlay session, “Alchemy of the Soul.” Our gathering was small and intimate and we rejoiced in the opportunity to move, tell our stories, use our voices, and find some stillness in the middle of a Georgia winter.
SPEAKING ABOUT TIME IN A MADE UP LANGUAGE. In InterPlay we say that we can have a feeling without articulating it. Speaking in a made up language about time in the form of a big body story allowed everyone a chance to express the verbally inexpressible!
In order to understand “time,” it helps to have body wisdom or to be a “body intellectual.” Body intellectual is an InterPlay term that means “one who pays attention to all forms of physical experience, seeks to be articulate about that information, and uses it as an important basis for understanding the world. (Move: What theBody Wants)

By moving in a conscious way, it is possible for us to acknowledge how are bodies feel differently when experiencing chronos time—limited by clocks and calendars, and kairos time—expanded by boundless time. Even more powerfully, it is possible that by moving our bodies (dancing) we can alter or transform our physical experience of time from being ordinary (time restraints) to being extraordinary (all the time in the world)!

ROTATING GESTURE CHOIR. At the end of our evening "Alchemy for the Soul," we played around with our sense of "flying time," or experiencing an expansiveness of time, by telling our stories in a gesture choir with witnesses. Each of us had a chance to move and speak with support of other "bodies" repeating or imitating our gestures.
What would happen in your life, your family’s life, and the life our communities, if we all started playing around with transforming time? Cynthia Winton-Henry says that most of us spend our time in the middle zone between ordinary (chronos) and extraordinary (kairos) time. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could choose which state of reality to experience and use play and body wisdom to be and live that reality?

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Many thanks to Congregation Bet Haverim that offers such a warm an inviting space for us to InterPlay in! Thanks to Joyce Kinnard and Audrey Gaylex, both CBH members and who support my InterPlay leadership offerings to the Atlanta community. I acknowledge my husband for his continued support and playfulness while attending the InterPlay sessions I conduct, even when he is busy planning to leave town for a student field trip on the Georgia Coast. I am grateful to Callahan Pope McDonough for her photography and commitment to living an artful life. As always, I am so appreciative of the work that InterPlay co-founders Phil Port and Cynthia Winton-Henry do for the entire wide world! They are amazing!

Join me for my online class, Move and Create, which uses InterPlay as a way to develop a daily creative practice (from now until April 14). First time participants are welcome for free! Here is a link to the course information.
Luminescence of a Buttercup, by Ruth Schowalter

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Seeking the Body Wisdom to Heal from Racism

Written by Christine Gautreaux, LMSW, Certified InterPlay Leader

Dear Friends,

We are exploring and researching our ability to play and stretch through discomfort by using InterPlay forms to tell our stories.  We are uncovering ways to dance with the challenges of racism and privilege. We entered into the practice AND looked at how we use InterPlay to deal with our own socialized systemic racism. This class is based on the book, Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debbie Irving. 

Eight of us gathered.  We babbled, we moved, we sang and we connected.

It was a powerful start to this leg of the journey.

Here is a poem I wrote this past weekend (at Poems of Witness: Speaking the Truth Going to the Heart with John Fox, LPT) that feels relevant to this work:

To Complacency 

There you are...

my old dear friend...

My frayed and washed out sweater

I continue to wrap around my shoulders

when you no longer fit.

You have kept me sheltered

and warm

in my privileged bubble

while others have gone cold and hungry

naked in this unjust world.

It is time to set you down

pass you on

Or better yet,

Unravel you 

back to your truest form

and re-knit a new reality.

One that includes all races,

all genders,

all faiths.

Each of us,


Stitching together



& safety.

by Christine Gautreaux 2/11/17

In Peace & Play,


24Th.  Followed by The Life Practice Program!  If you are interested in learning more about InterPlay and how to use 

it in your daily life check out these offerings!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Georgia Tech College of Sciences Presents “At Ease: Using Improvisation to Speak to Anyone about your Research"

Written by Ruth Schowalter, M.S. Applied Linguistics & ESL, 
Certified InterPlay Leader

What does a 90-minute InterPlay science communication “sample” workshop with professors look like? Journey with me to Georgia Tech, an urban campus located in Midtown Atlanta to find out!

First of all, the February afternoon right before the 3:00 PM start of the workshop was overcast, with the gray skies releasing tiny shards of cold rain. Fortunately for me, I escaped the unfriendly weather by taking a bright yellow trolley to the Marcus Nanotechnology Building, where the Director of Science Communications, Maureen Rouhi, was administering the final touches to name badges, refreshments, and room arrangements. Tables were removed and chairs lined up around the room’s edges, leaving space for improvisational movement.

One-by-one professors arrived as if in a Harry Potter movie, being teleported from their busy labs and offices through the inclement weather. Hailing from different disciplines such as biomedical engineering, biochemistry, physics, mathematics, and atmospheric sciences, these professors had responded to the following invitation written by Maureen Rouhi:
The College of Sciences is hosting a workshop aimed at honing the communication skills of scientists when addressing general audiences. The short interactive workshop will be designed and facilitated by Ruth Schowalter. 

An master English teacher and long-time English instructor at Georgia Tech, Ruth applies movement and improvisational techniques to public speaking, similar to the approach of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, at Stony Brook University. She has been conducting workshops to help students and professionals improve their effectiveness in addressing various audiences. 

Last October, Ruth conducted a highly successful program—“Using Improvisation To Increase Your Skills in Academic and Professional Speaking”—for graduate students in the Schools of Materials Science and Engineering and of Mechanical Engineering.

Ruth has designed “At Ease: Using Improvisation To Speak About Your Research To Anyone” for the College of Sciences. The workshop is ideal for academic faculty who are keen to explore new ways to communicate by expanding physicality and vocal range, especially when speaking to non-scientists.  

Once the eight curious participants had all arrived, we warmed up with breathing exercises, sharing our names, and movement. The energy was high as they willingly experimented with ways of expressing themselves. What a joy it was to see the earnestness of these researchers as they stretched past their comfort zones to learn new skills!

In the short time we had together, my primary goal was to offer them playful ways to expand physicality and vocal range when explaining their research to people, especially non-scientists. Therefore, after the warm up, I engaged pairs in taking turns to do “short tellings” while experimenting with modulating their voices, i.e., paying attention to volume, speed, and pitch.

In small incremental steps, I asked the participants to increase the use of their “nonverbal” communications or body language. Through a series of “following and leading” exercises, everyone had ample opportunity to play around with exaggerated facial expressions, shoulder movements, hand gestures, and moving while explaining or describing something. The desired outcome of these activities was to broaden participants’ overall awareness of how they could increase their physical presence, enhancing meaning and connection with listeners while decreasing words.

During our short time together, I introduced the InterPlay concepts easy focus (a willingness to relax and trust yourself) and noticing (reflecting on what you are experiencing in body, mind, and emotions). We also did the physical InterPlay activity, “Walk, Stop, Run” as a way to increase physical presence or energy. It also served as a transition between “short telling” exercises, in which participants reduced 250-written-word descriptions of their research to oral summaries, then three sentences, and finally three words.

Before the participants left, they were kind enough to fill out a feedback form. Here is what they reported as beneficial:
  • Great activities that opened my body and mind.
  • Learned to control my voice.
  • Distilling research from 250 words to 3 sentences to 3 words.
  • Speech modulations (volume, speed, pitch).
  • Repeated efforts at explaining the same work.
WORKSHOP PARTICIPANTS WITH RUTH SCHOWALTER. Relaxed, motivated, excited, and energized were some of the one-word responses that the science researchers reported at the conclusion of the 90-minute science communication workshop. -Photo by Maureen Rouhi
When asked, “What one word best describes an experience you are having right now?”, these are some of the responses: relaxed, motivation, excitement, fun, and energy.

Just as they had appeared miraculously, these scientists vanished, leaving me with a sense of wonder at what a little bit of improvisation can do!

Acknowledgments: Thanks to Maureen Rouhi for collaborating with me in crafting this workshop. I appreciate her experience with improvisation as a communication tool, sense of fun, and readiness to participate. As always, I am grateful to Phil Porter and Cynthia Winton-Henry co-founders of InterPlay for this deeply rewarding improvisational system. And thanks to my husband, Tony Martin, the scientist in my life, who has supported my integration of InterPlay with science communication by inviting me into his Emory classroom and co-creating workshops together.

Other blogposts on how I use InterPlay for Science Communication and Outreach:

November 2016
October 2016

March 2016

November 6, 2014

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Spirit Play and Balance

written by Christine Gautreaux, LMSW, Certified InterPlay Leader

Dear friends,

Friday I was privileged to co-lead InterPlay Atlanta's Spirit Play Class with Deb Heirs at the Shambhala Center in Decatur. (Jennifer Denning who usually co-leads this class was traveling)

On this day we started by centering ourselves with singing bowls leading into silent sitting.  We then played with introductions and what we could talk about...

We babbled about Grace and Grace making.

InterPlay warmed up our bodies and guided us into a walk, stop, run where we played with ease. 

 Deb brought the poem "Balance" by Alice B. Fogel for us to read and respond to.


Related Poem Content Details

Balance is everything, is the only
way to hold on.
I've weighed the alternatives, the hold
as harbor: It isn't safe                                                                             
to let go. But consider the hover,

choices made, the moment
between later and too late.
Hesitation is later, regret
too late. You can't keep turning
and turning, or expecting
to return. This earth

is not a wheel, it is a rock
that erodes, mountain by mountain.
And I have been too soft,
like sandstone, but there is a point
where I stand without a story,
immutable and moved, solid
as a breath in winter air.

I have seen my death and I know
it is my neighbor, my brother,
my keeper. In my life
I am going to keep trying
for the balance,

remembering the risks and the value
of extremes, and that experience
teaches the length of allowable lean;
that it is easier — and wiser —
to balance a stone as if on one toe
though it weigh a hundred pounds

than to push it back against the curve
of its own world.

I thought this was timely considering Jennifer's last blog.
We had time to write our own poetic responses and share. My body was filled with grace and gratitude as I listened to everyone's voice.

Here is Deb's poem that came out of our time together:

Balancing, as if
riding a bicycle
into the rain--
careful, aware.
That same care
could be guidance
for the good days,
the sunny days,
the lazy days--
could be the grace
that grows a garden.

d.hiers, jan 2017, atlanta, ga

We finished our time together with a contact dance since several of our poems responded to the line in the poem, "...and that experience teaches the length of allowable lean."

It was an hour and half that was so soul soothing for me and according to the noticings of the other 7 group members (who I forgot to take pictures of) they concurred.

If you're in need of some of this yumminess meet me in Norcross tomorrow for Suburb Sunday InterPlay.

In Peace & Play,


P.S.  We have a Secrets of InterPlay & Secrets of Leading InterPlay coming in March!  Click on the pictures below to learn more.