Tuesday, October 4, 2016

What is Possible in Play? Creative Communication Class at the Clarkston Global Academy

WHAT IS IT POSSIBLE FOR YOU TO CREATE? After warming up, saying our names, talking about what brings us love, ease, and grace, and playing following and leading, my class of resettled teenage refugees sat down to draw and write. (photo art by Hallelujah Truth, aka Ruth Schowalter)
Hallelujah for CREATIVITY! Hallelujah for PLAY! Hallelujah for COMMUNITY--one in which we can CREATE and PLAY.

Many of you dear readers know that on my artist's pilgrimage, I have taken InterPlay, an improvisational system that nurtures authenticity and which I am proudly certified in, to the Ellis Island of the South, Clarkston, Georgia (see this blog).

On Monday afternoons, I arrive to facilitate an hour-long class "Creative Communications," with resettled refugee teenagers from countries such as Nepal, Burma, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Using InterPlay as the foundation for this after school program in the Clarkston Global Academy, I engage these teens in movement, storytelling, voice, and shape and stillness.

As a 3-decade-long English as a Second Language instructor, a goal I integrate with play and creativity is verbal and physical expansion. Inviting the teens to experiment with volume, pitch, and speed as well as gestures, I encourage them to use English (or their own language) to offer what is unique to them. In this way, voicing their names become subtle or exaggerated dances. Talking about an ordinary day at school becomes an enthusiastically expressed story. The InterPlay forms offer adventures in being oneself and connecting with others.
CREATING WITH EASY FOCUS. What can a minute of ease offer to your creativity? Playing in community is a powerful way to access what is yours to claim. What is it your body, mind, heart, and spirit want to express?  (photo by Hallelujah Truth, aka Ruth Schowalter)
Yesterday, I decided to add drawing and writing to our creative communications. "What is possible for you to create and communicate," I asked them, "when you are using easy focus?" Wheee... (Easy Focus is an InterPlay principle that gives us permission to release expectations or "hard focus" and enjoy the process of creating/being).

Students gathered around a long narrow table, selected a colored marker and were asked to draw a shape, then to repeat that shape again and again, changing direction and size. Music from Eric Chappelle, swirled around them. Two InterPlay volunteers, Carolyn Renee and Lynn Hesse, engaged in the activity too. As facilitator, I had the honor to witness.

The teens relaxed into their assignment and increased the speed with which they drew their shapes. As they filled their 8" x 11" page, I encouraged them to find another color and to use that as "spice." When everyone was slowing down, I asked them to turn their papers over and write three words or more that were coming into their minds. And then, if they wanted, to write a sentence.

The energy was just right. I observed a confidence in their actions, a certainty in what to write, what to create. Ta dah!  That is what is POSSIBLE IN PLAY in Creative Communication Class at the Clarkston Global Academy.

InterPlay activities comprised the concluding 15 minutes of class, supporting an embodied way of sharing the newly generated "visual and word art." 
SHARE YOUR IMAGE IN DANCE AND WORDS. In pairs, the teens were invited to communicate their drawing through movement, however they wanted to express their multiple shapes. Then to use words from the back of their drawings or any new words that came to them. (photo by Hallelujah Truth, aka Ruth Schowalter)
EXPRESSING IN THE LARGER COMMUNITY. How to share this newly created work with the larger community of the class? InterPlay has a form, "Walk Stop Run." With ease, the teens made their own choices of when and what to share with others. They chose to walk, stop, run, or show and speak about their work. The fun engagement was phenomenal! (photo art by Hallelujah Truth, aka Ruth Schowalter)
One of the greatest gifts I received from this hour of creative communicating was when I heard one of the young women from Nepal read her sentence aloud: "I love myself, and I am enough!"

Many thanks go to Jes Gordon, whose Intuitive Painting class taught me some simple ways to engage people in drawing without judgment. As I explore ways to use music with lyrics, I am grateful to Soyinka Rahim for her album "BIBO LOVE." During this class, the teens happily took turns leading and following to "BIBO Funk" with such joy and fun moves. I am so appreciative to the CPACS facilitators and the Clarkston Global Academy educational program director, Justine Okello for supporting this Creative Communication Class. Recently being joined by volunteers from the InterPlay Atlanta community has filled me with such a feeling of bounty. As always, I want to acknowledge InterPlay co-founders Phil Porter and Cynthia Winton-Henry for this community building improvisational system and all that they do to make it accessible to everyone.



That's Coffee with Hallelujah Truth! SOUL BLOG with me! What is possible in play for you? What is your truth that you want to share in the world?

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