Take off your serious person's hat!

Take off your serious person's hat!

September 01, 2017

Anna presented two workshops for the Speech Communication Association’s (professional body for speech teachers ) annual conference in Blenheim.  She was awarded the Deidre Snedden Scholarship to train as an InterPlay leader in Australia.

InterPlay is an improvisation technique, created by Cynthia Winton-Henry and Phil Porter in California, over twenty five years ago but it still new to New Zealand.  Belinda Meares, from Canterbury has been running workshops for a couple of years throughout the country and SCA members have been to them in both Christchurch and Auckland. 

These are her workshop notes.  Please contact her if you have any questions about what was covered at the PDS.

  • InterPlay focuses on five areas of practice: movement, voice, stories, stillness and connection. It’s is a fun, dynamic practice that integrates movement, voice, story and reflection.
  • It incorporates a lot of what we do together as speech and drama teachers, connecting and boosting confidence and creativity.
1. Warmup

Start, in a circle with saying our name and doing an action which sums us up at the same time, this is echoed by the group.

‘Take care of your own body

Adjust the movement to accommodate your needs, stiff/sore leg etc – make the action with a different body part’.


  • Warming up body parts
  • Face and body massage
  • Warming up 4 movement patterns.

 Four movement patterns -

  • Swing, move around the room, let of off your focus a little, swing at your own rate, joyful, uplifting, light
  • Thrusting, throw paint on the wall, fast, angry, punchy, jerky, fake tap dancing?
  • Hang, slow, gentle, easy, slow smooth, fake tai chi
  • Shape and stillness, add points of stillness, find a shape and hold it, another and breathe while you hold it.


Find a partner, select who will be ‘a’ and ‘b’
‘a’ babbles for 30 secs
‘b’ listens and notices
Change partners both have a go - share anything they noticed with their partner.  Use a variety of topics, car/ kitchen/ weekends/bed/view out of window/grapes/ special object in living room.

Use your voice in different ways -

  • high pitch/nasal/hissing/swallow endings/accent/excited/depressed, loud and soft

Gibberish on any topic
e.g. Politics/councils/something feel very hot under the collar about/environment/ bringing up children, next holiday, who should do the dishes.  Try in two’s, one person speaks in gibberish, one translates, or try in three’s with one observing,

Give words, phrases, name qualities of poem, take words and make a poem out of them

Wholesale fantasy, complete fabrication, root your lie in truth, redemptive lying tell it as you would have liked it to end e.g. education, sibling, wealth, where they grew up. Notice as a whole group, about what came up.

Babbling works well as an oral language starter, I have used it in primary schools with a variety of ages to get students more comfortable about sharing their ideas, I then take the time up to a minute and talk about body language, voice, eye contact etc. It easily leads onto story telling.  We did storytelling, with three movers, three sound people and three narrators, on Glenda’s exploding muesli.  This can work well with students who are reluctant to ‘tell’ the story so they can have a go at doing the sound effects and the movement, then move into the storytelling, when more confident.

3. Walk, Stop, Run
This is a good exercise to do after a warm up, it helps students to ‘feel at home’ and to start noticing what the body wants. 

‘Walk in any direction, change, find the edges of the space as well as the centre, walk in an unusual path, change direction, walk backwards, notice who else is in the room if you run into someone say ‘thank you’. Play with walking, stopping, running in your own time.’


4. Handdance
Stand or lie on the floor, incremental step towards dancing, witness and on behalf of.

‘Exploring smooth, smooth and fast, jerky and slow, make a shape and hold it, make another shape, bring your hand in contact with the floor or your body, now move to another point of contact.’ Now I am going to put on music and I invite you to play around with the movements of one hand’, move your hand as far as you can in all directions.’


5.Voice toning, fake opera
Hum in a group, work on creating a patina of pitches and creating harmonies, experiment with sound then bring in rhythm, copying and following or whole group coming together but doing own sounds.


Why I love InterPlay

  • Allows me to play - creative ways of playing with my life
  • Opens up my life to other possibilities which I wasn’t aware of before
  • More compassionate, to self and others
  • More at ease and more spontaneous

If you would like more information, please follow these links:



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