What the Heck Is InterPlay?!

So, I do this thing called InterPlay. And it’s kinda hard to explain exactly what it is.  People still scratch their heads and say “huh?” when I try to describe it.

Officially speaking, it’s an active, creative approach to unlocking the wisdom of the body.  Sounds great to me! But there are tons of people out there who have no idea what this means.

So, I’m devoting the summer to this problem: How do I describe InterPlay so that people get it!?

Why Do I Care About InterPlay?

But hold the phone — why does it matter if people “get it”?  Why do I care?

Partially because I want people to get ME. And InterPlay and its philosophy of body wisdom is a big part of who I am.

But I also care for this reason — I’ve found a great deal of freedom in my life thanks to the InterPlay philosophy and practices.  I think it’d be most excellent if other people got to experience this freedom too.

New Agey Blah Blah Blah?

I’m a pretty open person, and I’ve gone to a lot of new agey workshops on personal development and body/mind/spirit integration.  So much of it is really good stuff, and I’m a better person for it.

But this stuff also inaccessible to a great number of people. The language used by gurus and their followers is often so insular. Not to mention “airy-fairy” or “hoity-toity”. Their practices — for example, gazing into another person’s eyes for minutes at a time, or sharing deeply personal pain stories in public — feel threatening and uncomfortable. Most people (myself included) don’t like to dive head first into transformation.

Good for Average, Regular People

InterPlay is one of the first workshoppy things I’ve done that made me think — Wow! These folks have figured out how to bring body wisdom to your average, regular person.  There’s no need to be ultra spiritual or liberal to benefit from InterPlay.

Those of us who love it share bits and pieces everywhere we go.

Bobbie just called me yesterday to share how she used the babbling activity in a recent church meeting (Result: a group of people who’ve been friendly-but-distant for years starting feeling more connected).

Dorothy even got Iraq veterans doing — and loving! — a hand dance. (Result:  “It’s a new way to express myself,” one of them reflected gratefully. Yes!! More about that in a guest post soon.)

Uh oh. Look what I just did! I’d intended to try to explain what InterPlay is briefly and clearly. Instead, I used a bunch of wierd terms like “babbling” and “hand dance.” Does it put you off, because you have no idea what these things mean?

Come On, Already, Gretchen — What the Heck is InterPlay!?

I really do have a commitment to talking simply, directly, and clearly about InterPlay.  I just don’t know how! So, before I end, let me take a stab at some more statements:

  • People often practice InterPlay by gathering in groups in dance studios. But it can actually take place anywhere.
  • In any InterPlay experience, folks get together (community), do stuff (play), and then notice about it (reflection).
  • The “stuff” that they do includes improvisational storytelling, movement, and playing with the voice. I’ll be describing these forms in more detail in future blog posts. The “noticing” includes anything a person is comfortable saying about their experience. Often people don’t say anything at all.  Luckily, in InterPlay you don’t have to articulate your experience in order to have it.
  • In any InterPlay class, you’ll experience the 5 daily requirements — tell a story, use your voice, move around the room, have some stillness, and have easy, playful physical contact with others.
  • All activities in InterPlay are broken down into small, bite-sized pieces that are easy and comfortable for participants to do. (For example, “Take 30 seconds to tell your partner what you had for breakfast this morning”).

Please Give Me Feedback:

To those of you hearing about InterPlay for the first time, I’m curious: what have I said here that resonates? What confuses you?  What questions do you have?  Your feedback will really help me get better talking about this thing that I love so much.

Stay Tuned…

Starting this weekend and every Monday throughout the summer,  I’ll be blogging about the InterPlay core elements.  My goal is to provide clear, non-jargony descriptions of the core elements of InterPlay, including:

Body Wisdom Tools: Easy Focus, Body Data/Knowledge/Wisdom, Internal Authority, Physicality of Grace, Exformation, Spiritual Practices, Incremenality, and Affirmation

Body Wisdom Practices: Warm-Up, Babbling, Big Body Stories, Circle Stories, Contact, DT3s, Following and Leading, Group Toning/Singing, Hand-to-Hand Contact, “On Behalf of” forms, One-Breath songs, One-Hand dances, Shape & Stillness, Side-by-Side Stories, Solo Movement, Walking/Stopping/Running, Warm-Up, Witnessing, Noticing

Or Just Come Play

The truth, though, is this: no matter how much I say about InterPlay, you really need to experience it to get it.  Here is a quick brainstorm of ways to try it live and in person:

Goodness, this has been a long post.  Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom. Please DO leave your feedback! Here are those questions again:

What have I said here that resonates? What confuses you?  What questions do you have?

Your comments will really help me get better talking about this thing that I love so much!

As always, playfully yours!

15 thoughts to “What the Heck Is InterPlay?!”

  1. Cool Beans! One small thing: I just clicked on the National link and it was broken.

    This was helpful, Gretchen. I feel much more informed and curious to know more!

  2. Gretchen,
    I loved your conversational tone and for me I felt you did a good job of both making InterPlay feel like something that is fun, safe, easy and accessible for all.
    I look forward to getting to know more about this — I love discovering new ways to grow, expand and play in my life.
    When are you coming to Wisconsin?!?

  3. Hey Shannon– There are a BUNCH of InterPlayers in Minnesota, but it would be so much fun to come out to Wisconsin some time. Actually, within the year I have to visit my Grandma in Duluth, MN. Where in Wisconsin are you? It’d be fun to connect, anyway!

  4. The link is fixed. Thanks bajillions for the heads-up. I’m glad you’re curiosity is piqued, and I’ll happily provide more in coming months.

    Your art picnics are soooooo InterPlay-ee, Leah. I’ve told Cynthia about them, and will share your link. I think I’m going to able to attend the June one, BTW. I can’t wait to experience your artful facilitation.

  5. Hi Gretchen,

    We “met” awhile ago when you made a cool, custom set of MuseCubes for me. That you are a fellow Interplayer I should have known, but somehow didn’t quite connect. Better late…

    I really appreciate your commitment to describing Interplay in plain, clear ways. As we revitalize the Interplay community here in Nashville, I will follow your lead 🙂 Thank you for the inspiration.

    Peace and Blessings,

  6. Hey Caroline, How lovely to see you here on my blog! Many blessings as you work towards re-energizing the Nashville community…I look forward to hearing more. And I hope those MuseCubes are working out for you!!

  7. I was introduced to interplay eight years ago in MN. Now am in Sparta, WI. Would love, love, love to meet up with others in the area who are interested.

  8. Hey Gretchen– I’m in WI too (Milwaukee, specifically) and would be very interested in InterPlay! I even have a comfortable guest room where you’d be welcome, assuming you don’t mind pets…

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