Existential Playground is an ongoing virtual event dedicated to playfully experimenting with the essential questions of our existence. Each playground creates an immersive container meant to catalyze questions around a given theme. For roughly 2-3 hours, we will live questions, try on questions (like outfits), breathe in the space around the questions, and watch as more and more questions percolate. Deep play is the fodder for our questions – the play of our senses, feelings, thoughts, bodies, hearts, brains, relationalities, interiorities, voices, memories, edges, and shadows.
EXISTENTIAL PLAYGROUND #4 THE ROOM Event: Saturday July 10, 12-3pm EST Integration: Tuesday July 13, 12-1pm EST
You are in the real world, in a real room. I am in the real world, in a real room. We both close our eyes and enter another space. Together, we illustrate our surroundings. Everything in this room is built through our words. Together, we build something outside ourselves that belongs to both of us. It’s surprisingly intimate to create a world for each other. In this world, limitless creative potential is tethered by accountability. This world is both a dream and an ecosystem. Everything is available but all choices must coexist with those that came before them. Each moment is idiosyncratic, emerging from the relationality between you and the others crafting this imaginary scene. The Room, designed by artist-improvisors Anna Kroll and Chloë Engel, is a structured exercise in collaborative imagination. The Room begins with a warmup, where we are together in small groups practicing a series of verbal scores – Action, Sensation, Space. Once these verbal scores become more familiar, they are combined to create an improvisational field (a shared language) of creation and existence which is The Room.
The Room asks us: can we share a space, a dance, a body, when we are not physically together? What happens when we attempt this imaginary togetherness? What new sense of encounter is afforded in this playful imaginary? What can become when the laws of physics are made a bit looser? What new paths of intimacy are carved in this fantastic terrain? Each moment offers an opportunity for reflection – what do we remember, what did we feel, what would have changed? What did we need that we didn’t have? What did we have that we didn’t need?
Anna Kroll’s and Chloë Engel’s work draws from both of their experiences as dance artists and improvisers. They began this collaboration in the Fall of 2020 developing the practice through weekly phone calls that began with the prompt – how can we create a spoken dance?
Workshop Details: Event: Saturday July 10th 12pm-3pm EST Integration: Tuesday July 13th 12pm-1pm EST Tickets: Early Bird Tickets (available until July 1st) are $33. Please contact The Deep Play Institute for sliding scale options if needed. Tickets can be purchased here. Our event will be located on Zoom, and a ticket gives you access to the entirety of the event and integration. No prior experience in play, playgrounds, or existential playgrounds is necessary.
Anna Kroll is a dancer, choreographer and interdisciplinary artist. Anna’s performance work has been shown at No Theme Festival (Poughkeepsie, NY) in Philadelphia Theaters, Rivers and Subway Underpasses at FringeArts’ Scratch Night, Open Call Guerilla Outdoor Performance Festival, Invisible River’s Schuylkill River Arts Day, Cathy Weis' Sundays on Broadway (NYC), and Danspace's Draftwork series (NYC). Her pieces aqueousness (an Instagram feed), and #AllYourMarketing (a live video feed) were in the Digital Fringe portion of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Alluvium and Inlet were commissioned by the Painted Bride Art Center for their expanded archive of Philadelphia, “Re-place-ing Philadelphia”. Her looping videopiece your toes, your skin, your heart, your bones was included in the online film festival “Trans(m)it”. She is currently an MFA student at UMBC in Intermedia & Digital Art. She received her BA from Bennington College and is an alum of the Headlong Performance Institute. annakroll.com
Chloë Engel (she/they) is a performer, improviser, teacher, and nanny currently based in Brooklyn, NY. Chloë makes performance about Madness, hazy trauma, nostalgia, and queer reverie as rebellion. Chloë’s performance work has been shown at Open Performance, No Theme Festival (Poughkeepsie, NY), Little Berlin (Philadelphia, PA), Middlebury College, Bennington College, and AUNTS Festival (Brooklyn, NY). She teaches a weekly online associative meditation class called: suggested methods to feel your feelings. chloeengel.org
EXISTENTIAL PLAYGROUND #3 W/HOLES May 7th 11am-2pm EST
We have been playing so much with our parts that we’ve neglected our wholes! For this existential playground we will explore holes and wholes. How are holes wholes? Where are the holes inside our holes? When do we feel a hole or a whole? How are holes and wholes mixed and intermixed? How does language make holes whole again? Are holes holy? We’re thinking about: shadow integration, holes in crocheted doilies making fractal patterns which reveal the whole, black holes (that which sucks in all things), and even arse holes (in the existential sense).
The event itself (a 180 minute WHOLE) will be composed of four ~40 minutes w/holes, along with intros and conclusions. Each of these w/holes, will be orchestrated by a facilitator who will divide their w/hole into a series of holes. These holes will fragment and divide us from the larger whole, dividing time into delicious holy morsels. In each hole that you (the participant) are placed within, you will find that you are holed up with a group of others with some sort of task in need of accomplishing, some sort of hole that is need of filling. With each new hole you find yourselves in, the questions of ‘how we are holed, holy and wholed?’ will be dug up, played with, explored and pieced together.
A few days following the playground we will also hold a 1-hour conversation reflecting and integrating our experience.
Workshop Details: Event: Friday May 7th 11am-2pm EST Integration: Tuesday May 11th 11am-12pm EST Tickets: Early Bird Tickets (available until April 24th) are $33. Please contact The Deep Play Institute for sliding scale options if needed. Tickets can be purchased here. Our event will be located on Zoom, and a ticket gives you access to the entirety of the event.
MEET OUR W/HOLES & FACILITATORS:
Hole, Holy, Whole / Aaron Finbloom Close your eyes, now imagine you are in a hole. How deep is it? How wide? What is it made of? How are you feeling being inside of it? How long have you been there? With our eyes closed, and in groups of 3, we will transport ourselves into a wild, fantastic world where our imaginations reign supreme, and where holes, wholes and holiness abound.
Bio: Aaron Finbloom is a philosopher, artist and pedagogue. He is the co-founder of The School of Making Thinking (SMT) and the director of The Deep Play Institute (DPI). His practice involves expanding transformative inquiry through games, performance art and structured play. With training in Circling, Authentic Relating, and Psychodrama, he facilitates experimental individual and group sessions inspired by these practices. He holds a PhD in Interdisciplinary Humanities & Fine Arts from Concordia University in Montreal, and is currently teaching Philosophy at the City College of New York. www.finblooming.com
Getting Unstuck / Khuyen Bui “Change is the only constant” sounds good in theory, but in practice, we all have stagnated puddle somewhere in our life. For this session, you will get to dig around a part of life that needs some gentle shaking up. We will have exactly 37 minutes for 4 tasks of increasing level of murkiness that will bring you from delight to aghast and then to Aha. Warning: while it’s playful, it can be also be useful.
Bio: Sociable nerd, reasonable geek and part-time philosopher, Khuyen enjoys musing & writing about common yet still difficult human dilemma. Graduated from Tufts University studying Computer Science and Philosophy, he thrives in bringing analytical rigor into his inquiries of human messiness. Besides his own coaching practice, he had designed and facilitated hundreds of hours of workshops for various groups and teams. Drawing from various traditions and disciplines, particularly Contact Improvisation, Circling and the Enneagram, his work seeks to uncover the goodness that is already here. Catch him if you can at khuyenbui.com.
ROWD TRIP / Natalia Stroika In the game ROWD TRIP each player will complete a personal puzzle through semi-structured encounters with other players. The iterative process will reveal unique clues that can only be generated by serendipitous interactions with specific Others, experienced as random at first but eventually tying together into a meaningful whole.
Bio: Natalia Stroika is an existential game maker/destroyer. She is the creator of Ludic Liberation, a practice of collective play aimed at revealing & releasing our internalized limitations. You can read more about the Ludic Liberation philosophy at www.ludicliberation.com, join a monthly Ludic Liberation Lab to help us research & develop new game concepts and mechanics, or work with Natalia directly on tuning up or redesigning your Personal Existential Game (PEG).
Your (w)hole life! / Rosi Greenberg Your (w)hole life! We'll reflect on elements of your life, exploring where there are holes and where there are wholes of the larger whole. We'll use expressive art and free association to find insights into our lives, reflecting back the w/hole of one another's being. As part of a collective whole, we'll draw out the wisdom to explore what elements of the collective system we each hold (whole-d?).
Bio: Rosi offers leadership workshops for people at all levels, focusing on seeing self and other in deeper ways. An artist, Rosi scribes meetings as they happen and helps people come into more joyful, creative contact with one another. Rosi has studied storytelling, group dynamics, and leadership, and has a background in education. Rosi lives in Cambridge MA and is the founder of Drawn to Lead. https://www.drawntolead.org/
EXISTENTIAL PLAYGROUND #2 Characters Saturday March 6, 3:00-6:00pm EST
In our first Existential Playground we forayed into the bizarre world of our inner parts, sensing our psychological landscapes, and gaining some greater familiarity of the terrain. This upcoming Existential Playground will be a more formidable adventure into this world through the construction of a character devised from a few of our inner parts. The facilitators will help us enter into character for the entirety of our time together, and situate us in a fictional world designed to help us get to know the parts we chose.
Before the event, participants will be asked to do 30 minutes of meditation and writing to develop our characters. This will involve partaking in a brief Internal Family Systems meditation, mapping a handful of your inner parts, (for example: your inner critic, lover, worrier, or joker) devising a character from 1-2 of these parts, and then answering some questions about your character. Some of these questions may include: How old is your character? What are their gender pronouns? What is a hobby or activity they enjoy? What is their occupation? What is something they detest?
For our event the fictional world we will construct and enter into will be the following: You are one member of a group of participants who have been solicited by the United States government to brainstorm a brand new adult education program designed to increase emotional intelligence. This program will be mandatory for all adult citizens and so your participation is vital. Through a series of intimate structured encounters with the other participants you will help construct a world that makes more space for people like you.
Workshop Details: For the first part of our workshop (~30 minutes) we will work on getting into our characters through some opening exercises led by organizers Aaron Finbloom and Netta Sadovsky. Then we will fully enter the fictional world with our character for approximately 1.5 hours led by facilitator Lolo Haha. We will end with a closing reflection and debriefing. Early Bird Tickets (available until February 25th) are $30. Please contact The Deep Play Institute for sliding scale options if needed. Tickets can be purchased here. Our event will be located on Zoom, and a ticket gives you access to the entirety of the event.
Lolo Haha (he/him) is a counselor, equity consultant, conflict mediator, and social justice theatre director based in Portland, Oregon. He works with individuals, couples, organizations, and communities to grow in their relationship toward conflict and paradox and to evolve toward a greater collective freedom.
Netta Sadovsky (she/her) is a social work masters student at Bryn Mawr College. As a clinical social work intern she provides group and individual counseling to survivors of domestic violence and abuse at Laurel House, and has facilitated groups for adults with co-occuring substance abuse and mental health disorders at Pathways to Recovery. She is a student of Psychodrama, Tavistock Group Relations, Mindful Facilitation, and Internal Family Systems, and makes artwork that borrows from and experiments with these practices.
Aaron Finbloom (he/him) is a philosopher, artist and pedagogue. He is the co-founder of The School of Making Thinking (SMT) and the Director of The Deep Play Institute (DPI). His practice involves expanding transformative conversation through games, performance and play structures. With training in Circling, Authentic Relating, and Psychodrama, he has led dozens of individual and group sessions inspired by these practices. He holds a PhD in Interdisciplinary Humanities & Fine Arts from Concordia University in Montreal, and is currently teaching Philosophy at the City College of New York.
EXISTENTIAL PLAYGROUND #1 Parts Saturday Nov 21, 3-6:30pm EST
We are all made up of parts (i.e. different roles, selves, or inner voices). A critic, a lover, a despairer, a self-negater, a cheerleader, an aesthete, etc. Many relational practices (Internal Family Systems Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Process Work, Psychodrama, etc) attempt to work with these parts, to illuminate them, to help them collaborate, to speak, to see what lies beneath them. Our first existential playground we will be devoted to playing with our parts. After a short parts mapping introductory exercise, a handful of facilitators will offer workshops for us to participate in – as our parts. As we play, some of the questions that will most likely frame our playground are: What are my parts? What are your parts? Do they get along? Should they get along? How should they get along? What does that getting along look like? Is “getting along” an authentic mode of relating? What if they don't want to get along? Do some of my parts deserve to be pushed down or silenced? Do all parts deserve a voice? What if a part is violent or hurtful? Is there another part beneath it that is non-violent or not-hurtful? Does the core of all our parts want peace and love? Or is there no “core” to our parts? Or are these “cores” more messy, uncertain, and a mix of good and bad? Is there a part that bridges all these parts? Is there a self that integrates the parts? Is that “integrator” also a part? Is it parts all the way down?
Early Bird Tickets (until Nov 10th) are $30. Contact for sliding scale options if needed. Tickets can be purchased here. Our event will be located on Zoom, and a ticket gives you access to the entirety of the event. Participants will need to choose 2 of 4 workshops (1 per session).
3:30 - 4:30 Session 1 BODY Parts and Tension as an Expression of the Self– Gabrielle Revlock or Voice Dialogues: Talking Between Selves – Ilana Simons
4:35 - 5:00 Intermission / Parts Party Break
5:00 - 6:00 Session 2 Inviting our monsters to dance Inviting Our Monsters to Dance – Anna Costa e Silva or An Exchange of Masks: Finding Ourselves in Others – Melanie Cohn
6:05 - 6:30 Closing Reflections & Questions
Voice Dialogues: Talking Between Selves Ilana Simons Session 1
This workshop is an experiential dive into Voice Dialogue, a therapeutic practice that comes out of the Jungian tradition, in which therapist and client explore the various personalities that live inside us. The idea is that when we grow up into a certain family or culture, certain aspects of our personality get firmly developed, and others get less attended to, or disowned. Growing up in one family structure, you might develop your “Achiever” to a high degree; and in turn, your “Receiver," or the side that can ask for help, gets less attention. But these various sides always live inside us. In Voice Dialogue, a client gets the space to speak from just one of those personalities or energies—without apology, without placing it in context, without explaining. Having used this technique in private practice for a number of years, I know the power of that release. To speak from one side of personality without having to frame it is to honor it and release it. When we are done speaking from that one energy, we move back to the place of the center, which in Voice Dialogue is called Aware Ego. Aware Ego is the wisest form of ME from which we host dialogue among our various selves. In Voice Dialogue, self-acceptance is never the notion that we should uproot or suppress a side of ourself. Each side arose for a certain purpose, and brings a strength. Self-acceptance, or self-love, is when we are receptive to each of our various characters and host useful dialogue or coordination between them.
In this one-hour workshop, I will start with an explanation of the Voice Dialogue technique. I am a psychologist who uses the method in my private practice, which I have had for 10 years. We will experience a few dyads in the group – I will conduct voice dialogue with a few participants, and the group will collectively make observations and add insight. We will then each find one energy inside that calls us – a character of action – and come back to the larger group in character. You will work from just one energy within you, playing that energy out with the group. It’s a tea party in partial self. In the end, we will discuss how living in that energy relieved some pressure, or allowed us to see new aspects of ourselves.
Bio: I am a clinical psychologist who has worked in private practice for 10 years, in NYC, LA and now in Santa FE, NM. I work principally with artists, and Voice Dialogue is a central way in which I practice. I have PhD’s in both literature and psychology and have taught with The School of Making Thinking before, teaching a course in the Video Poem at Abron’s Art Center in 2015. I have also taught literature and writing at New York University, The New School, and the 92nd St Y. I am a filmmaker too, and my films have screened at The Cannes Film Festival, Hyperallergic.com, Poets & Writers website, Animation Block Party, and in Alain de Botton’s School of Life series. I write a blog for Psychology Today and originated Tin House magazine’s online site for video poems, Tin House Reels. I wrote and performed the one-woman show All Together Now at the New York Fringe Festival and am the author of A Life of One’s Own: A Guide to Better Living through the Work and Wisdom of Virginia Woolf (Penguin) http://ilanasimonsart.com/
BODY Parts and Tension as an Expression of the Self Gabrielle Revlock Session 1
We will begin by warming up the body, section at a time, through a guided and flowing improvisation. As we do so, we will observe the thoughts and feelings that arise. Which of your parts is present in this moment? And what causes another to enter, or not? We will then dive into a few ways we might organize the body. Inspired by Body-Mind Centering neurocellular patterns, we will explore homologous, homolateral, and contralateral movements. Do these movement patterns resonate with specific parts of the self? How might developmental patterns reflect the complexity or primitive nature of our parts? Might knowing these patterns bring greater physical expressiveness to our various parts? Finally, we will introduce our parts to Jacques Lecoq’s Seven Levels of Tension: Exhausted, Laid Back, Neutral, Alert, Suspense, Passionate and Tragic. What can we discover about the depth of our parts by allowing them to inhabit these tension states? Which states resonate while others challenge our assumptions about how our parts engage with the world? What are each of your parts’ default state of tension? Is there a relationship between muscle tension and identity? If we pay attention to how tension is distributed throughout the body, what might we notice and what might that signify? Our exploration will move us in ways familiar and foreign, opening participants to endless play and possibility. This movement focused workshop will include solo, partner and group reflection through writing and conversation.
Bio: I am a body-based artist whose work often depicts complicated but relatable interpersonal relationships using pedestrian movement vocabulary, abstracted by degrees. I’ve toured to Japan, the Netherlands, Singapore, Hungary, India, Russia, and been presented at notable US venues including New York Live Arts, The Flea, American Dance Festival, Gibney, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, JACK and FringeArts. My work has been supported by grants from the Puffin Foundation, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Pennsylvania Council for the Arts, American Dance Abroad, US Department of State and the Independence Foundation. In 2018 I was named ‘Newcomer of the Year’ by tanz, the German journal of ballet, dance, and performance. In 2019 I was an Institute Fellow with the experimental theater company, Target Margin. As a dancer, I’ve performed for Lucinda Childs, Jumatatu Poe, Susan Rethorst, Christopher Williams, Vicky Shick, Bill Young and Jane Comfort. In my role as teacher/facilitator I am on faculty with Movement Research and am a facilitator of the Brooklyn Contact Jam. Other places I’ve taught include: American Dance Festival, Gibney, The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Greene Towne School, Bryn Mawr College, Swarthmore College, Abrons Arts Center, The Barnes Foundation, Rowan University, NYU, Drexel University and Vassar College. In 2014 I created CardioCreativity a holistic dance fitness class with Nicole Bindler. It was featured on ABC news and received rave reviews from students for it's fun and community-oriented approach to fitness. I am also the creator of Restorative Contact, a mindful touch-based movement and empathy practice, which is a 5-star Airbnb Experience. http://gabriellerevlock.com/
An Exchange of Masks: Finding Ourselves in Others Melanie Cohn Session 2
This experiential workshop creates a space to explore parts of ourselves that may not be our predominant way of being. The workshop is based on games from the arsenal of the Theatre of the Oppressed created by Augusto Boal, adapted for the distance technology of Zoom. Exercises will allow participants to fully feel their predominant way of being in the world and then will offer a space to"try on" physical characters modeled by others. In this way, we will begin to recognize hidden parts of ourselves. Participants will then have the opportunity to reflect and compare these states, exploring the strengths and vulnerabilities of various parts. In order to come to a space to work together, participants are asked to be prepared to turn their cameras on for active interaction within the group.
Melanie Cohn is a visual artist and the executive director of the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey where she has led the organization in growing its community programs--including the establishment of an art therapy program with New Jersey Veterans Affairs. Previously, she led Staten Island Arts, deepening its programs in art & healing, education, and folk art. She received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts & her BFA from Missouri State University.
Inviting our monsters to dance Inviting Our Monsters to Dance Anna Costa e Silva Session 2
The roles and parts we play are usually connected to past experiences and traumas; they are forms to protect ourselves from coming back to difficult emotional places. Behind each mask, there lies a monster who is afraid to be faced and discovered. Monsters are our fears, the parts of us that we deny and that impede us to move forward, restraining our movement to the same forms. “Inviting our monsters to dance” is workshop in which we will get in contact with our shadows and fears in a playful way. Through one on one connection, this workshop will exercise an empathic feel towards our monsters, our parts and one another. Drawing, fictionalizing and dancing will be our paths to lighter and ludic ways of looking at our masks. This is a profound work that happens in a playful manner. Bio Anna Costa e Silva is an artist, director and professor from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Owner of an MFA in Visual Arts from the School of Visual Arts, NYC, she works in the intersections between visual arts, performance, social practice and healing. She has won awards such as Terremoto Ubisoft Grant, American Austrian Foundation Prize, FOCO ArtRio, was a PIPA Prize nominee and a finalist for Marcantonio Vilaça Award 2019. Among her solo shows are “Asymptotes” at Caixa Cultural, “I offer company” at Superfície Gallery, “Eter” at Centro Cultural São Paulo and “Purpura”, a mobile performative experience in public places in Rio de Janeiro. She also participated in group shows at institutions such as BienalSur (Buenos Aires), Contemporary Art Center (Vilnius) and Art In Odd Places (NY). Anna has been trained in Transcendental Meditation, Mindfulness, Aura Reading, Reiki and is currently participating on a 3 year formation in Reichian therapy. Since 2019, she teaches ArtLife Practices at Parque Lage visual arts school, an interdisciplinary course that mixes art, life and healing. As a director, she directed the 24 episode TV documentary series “Gaze” about contemporary artists for Arte 1 channel. Anna is represented by Superfície Gallery and has works in public and private collections, including MAR – The Museum of Art, Rio de Janeiro.