Whew! What a week-end. Fifty or so folks joined our Wing & a Prayer Pittsburgh Players at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts as we brought InterPlay (our system of moving, storytelling, singing, and stillness) to the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh’s art exhibit interplay, and what a magical combination that turned out to be.
Instead of taking words from the audience on a theme, as we usually do, the painting, sculptures and other art pieces served as our inspiration. We moved through the exhibit to various galleries, taking the audience with us and involving them in singing chants which provided our traveling accompaniment. Performing in the galleries helped us to appreciate the power of the collection of pieces which had been selected to live together in the same space. As in our InterPlay, when stories are told side by side, they each take on a somewhat different meaning, and together they become something larger than themselves.
With several friends the other evening I attended a tantilizing art exhibition celebrating the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh’s 100th birthday. The catalog described the challenge to the visual artists: “to create a work inspired by ‘interplay’ …to distill meaning from dichotomy and juxtaposition.” Titled Interplay, the show was juried by Eric C. Shiner, the Milton Fine Curator of Art at the Andy Warhol Museum of Pittsburgh. This diverse group of artists; video, digital photography, sculpture, painting, fiber, printmaking, and mixed media, presented themes of having money and not, what makes an artist – drawing a straight line? Where do art materials come from, and are we wearing them? There are urban forests and colorful words, kaleidoscopes and symmetry.
Strolling through the galleries, I felt a call and a longing to organize a response. For here I am, a practicing InterPlayer for 18+ years and director of InterPlay® Pittsburgh. I began to imagine what might happen if we could bring the system of InterPlay,® created by Cynthia Winton-Henry and Phil Porter twenty-five years ago, into connection with this exhibit. The InterPlay® of which I speak is a kind of folk art, practiced in over 50 cities in the U.S and on four continents. This InterPlay® is “an active creative approach to unlocking the wisdom of the body.” On the spot and in the moment we use movement, music, story telling, and stillness to respond to a theme, and collaboratively create art pieces together.
I’m looking forward to playing with my troupe, Wing & a Prayer Pittsburgh Players, using the images and themes from this exhibit. We will allow ourselves to be challenged and moved by the messages we receive from the artists’ handiwork. And using the performing art forms of InterPlay,® we will connect our own stories to theirs. And who knows, I’ve made a few calls and generated some interest, so if the organizational gods and goddesses create an opening, we might be able to play in the actual galleries at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts this summer while the show is in residence, allowing the artists and others to view our responses.