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