Alison took her first contact improvisation class, in the style of Interplay, in April 2002 and jumped in to the practice with both feet.
Interplay was developed by Cynthia Winton-Henry and Phil Porter, two dancing theologians, about twenty years ago. Interplay is a movement practice, a folk art, a way for grown-ups to play, heal, and love each other more fully, and a means of creating spiritual community through the media of dance, song, story-telling, and poem-making. It is ritual, art, and play, accessible to everyone, and infinitely flexible and adaptable.
Cynthia and Phil encouraged Alison to improvise poems in performance, and from that she has become interested in channeled poetry a la Rumi.
Currently, she performs with Wing It! a company of improvisers who use Interplay forms and techniques to create spontaneous and participatory theater. Alison also teaches occasional workshops in the art of improvising poems.
Learn more about Interplay here.
Below are a number of plays whose script and songs are written by Alison
The Shyest Witch
Pokeweed is the shyest witch. Unlike her sisters Numina and Hazelnut who are always competing for attention, she likes to hide out in the deepest parts of the woods, talking to flowers and clouds, letting the breeze be her confidante. But when Bandersnatch, a showman comes to town promoting his new reality show Which Witch is Witchiest? and dragging his shy and handsome apprentice Aloysius with him, things are bound to change. Even a trio of Squirrels, TrashTalk, BasketKase, and StirKrazy get involved.
Chester Hasborough, a Jehovah’s Witness, father and grandfather, Amina Thrash a pop singer and recovering—sort of—addict, and Sam Rosenthal-Kim, a lawyer and father of two, don’t know each other, but they all have something in common—the need for a donated kidney to survive. Their spouses and partners, Lucille, Nick, and Ted, are medically incompatible with them, or, in the case of Lucille, opposed to transplantation for religious reasons. Enter Durga, a resourceful and determined doctor in charge of coordinating a large and complex “chain” wherein donors can give a kidney to people they don’t even know in hopes of getting a kidney for their own loved one. Hilarity, drama, and music ensue.
Hank and Iris Briggs have been keeping a secret; their autistic son Aaron has injured them during his violent tantrums. When Iris climbs a tree to her “praying spot” and asks for help, she is hit by a bolt of lightning and wakes up in the hospital to find that she now possesses the gift of healing others through her touch. The one person she cannot heal is Aaron. Iris’ sisters, psychotherapist (Stephanie) and feminist scholar (Brenda), fly in from out of state to “help,” Joan of Arc visits, and each character must confront mysteries they can neither control nor explain.
Anna-Lucy is heir to the kingdom, which is in serious trouble. the castle is infested with wombats, her Father has possibly poisoned her Mother, and her cousin Harold, the Duke of Oasis, has become entangled in a video war-game which is proving all too real. The only thing left to do is go back to the trees.
Olivia Hotchkiss, 38, an elementary school teacher, and Jack Woolf, 58, a defense lawyer used to be lovers. Now Jack’s wife has kicked him out on the longest night of the year, and he has come around again to Olivia’s backyard hot tub. Throughout the long night, both Jack and Olivia argue, laugh, reminisce, lie, make love, fight, make up, confess, and come dangerously close to both murder and intimacy.
Glitter and Spew
Three linked short plays form a three-ring circus, a meditation on media exposure, shame, and personal responsibility in twenty-first century America.
In the first short one-act, A Night in Jail, the ghost of Marie Antoinette pays an unexpected visit to Samantha London, a Lindsay Lohan-esque young celebrity/actress jailed for drunk driving. During a long evening in which the doomed queen revisits her own imprisonment, they play dominoes with the prison guard and dream of escaping their fates.
The second story, Toilet Stall, features the wife, son and daughter of a prominent politician arrested for solicitation in an undercover sting operation in a Men’s Room toilet stall. His family faces the media via a satellite interview, each with their own spin on events.
In the third story, Freak, a woman who has allowed herself to be implanted with twelve embryos and has subsequently been dubbed “Dodeca Mom” by the media, attempts to justify herself to the gay clerk at Target who donated his sperm for her project and to a nosy interloper with mother issues of her own.
Saying Kaddish With My Sister
Rahel Horowitz, nee Rachel, has become an Orthodox Jew and has been living as a settler in Israel’s disputed Gaza territory for the last ten years. Now that her mother is dying, she returns home to her New York Family—all that’s left of it, her sister Lydia, an uber-secular performance artist. She and Lydia spar, embrace, argue, and figure out how to forgive—with a little help from a ghost and from God-in-the-form-of-Oprah. (“I take the shape of whatever you believed in during your life.”)