As Americans mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, perhaps it's also important to remember that we all have dreams.
Those dreams -- the ones we share as well as the ones we call our own -- will come into play tonight at The Alloy Studios in Garfield as artist-in-residence Soyinka Rahim and the local Wing and a Prayer Players perform on the themes of King's famous speech.
The gathering is hosted by InterPlay Pittsburgh, part of the global social movement -- founded in the San Francisco Bay area 24 years ago -- dedicated to ease, connection and play.
"InterPlay is an improvisational art-based system that can be used as performance, a way for people to explore their own stories," said director Sheila K. Collins, who started the Pittsburgh chapter shortly after moving here from Texas in 2005. "With InterPlay, you get led through very specific, very simple little exercises. We might do a 30-second story with a partner, or we might do what we call a hand dance, just doing something with their hand. These are techniques that get engagement from people, where they really feel involved.
"We watch television and go to movies. But this form of storytelling is more interactive and action-oriented and there's much more involvement in the stories. It's not just something presented to you. It's about aliveness and fullness in your life. Are you just a passive observer of life or somebody that's really involved?
"We see people getting very excited about life when they get involved actively. Eventually, people realize they can do much more artistically than they gave themselves credit for."
Part of InterPlay, which has branches in about 60 U.S. cities, involves tapping into your inner-child. (Yeah, I know how that sounds, but that doesn't mean it isn't important. Or fun.)
"One of the things that is unique about InterPlay is that you see people of different ages playing together," Ms. Collins said. "There's not a lot of things that people of different ages can do together."
Tonight's facilitator, Ms. Rahim, 51, came to Pittsburgh from Oakland, Calif., two weeks ago. She uses interactive singing, chanting, movement and games to tell stories.
"We will be using those forms to celebrate the 'I Have a Dream' speech," she said. "We'll have people form three-sentence stories to share their dreams. We'll partner up and we'll form a big group and discuss what we heard each other share."
Ms. Rahim said this will be the first time she's used these approaches to focus on King's speech.
"But I have used this form to encourage people to explore their own dreams," she said. "Dreams for your family, your community, the world, self-development. Not necessarily winning the lottery, but 'I have a dream that I will pass my test next week.'
"I believe that was Dr. Martin Luther King's intention. That one day we would have a platform where all people can come together, regardless of race, class, gender or religion, to share their dreams and their life experiences."
Some of the experiences shared tonight will be from people who took part in the march 50 years ago.
"What a privilege for me, as a facilitator, to witness and learn from the people who did attend that event," Ms. Rahim said. "And how important for the young folks to hear the seniors share."
And the seniors benefit from the young people?
"I find that, in facilitating since 2006, adults love when they're able to tap into their childlike spirit," Ms. Rahim said. "Maybe the silliness is something that they needed to be reminded of. The light-hearted spirit. It might seem silly, but it's welcoming."
You and your family are welcome to InterPlay Pittsburgh's "I Have A Dream" 50th Anniversary Celebration at The Alloy Studios, 5530 Penn Ave., tonight at 6:30. A donation of $10 individual, $15 family, is requested.
Dan Majors: firstname.lastname@example.org
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