Sheila K. Collins Website



October 2011 

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It's been said that the shortest distance between two people is a story. In this issue you will learn how members of the InterPlay troupe, Wing & A Prayer Pittsburgh Players are bringing their stories to a conference on social justice, to an international conference on music education, to a breakfast for staff of area social service agencies, and, with guest artist, Soyinka Rahim, to an Inter-generational workshop at Dance Alloy, co-sponsored by the Kelly-Strayhorn.


And since, as Maya Angelou suggest, "There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you," I've written about what inspired me to become a storyteller, and how I'm doing developing the skills to complete my mother's memoir, which hopefully will come into the world as a book in 2012.


A special thanks to those who made a donation to InterPlay Pittsburgh on the Oct. 4th Day of Giving. We pledge to use it wisely as we enlist InterPlay and the power of story to help our communities accomplish their most heartfelt noble purposes.


Hope to see you at one of our InterPlay events,


Sheila Collins 


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Telling Our Stories


My grandmother's sister, our Auntie, was a master story-teller. We kids delighted in her telling and retelling of the tales of how her "husband," Mr. Mcgillicutty had come to his death by falling out of the back door of a Ford car before car doors had locks. Or how she belonged to a social club called the Homely Mugs Club, and how she was the president because she was the homeliest one of them all.


There was always a grain of truth in Auntie's stories, she did work for Ford Motor Company, but she did not, as she claimed, install the locks on the car doors. And though she made lots of jokes about her looks, or lack thereof, she was always beautiful to me. I admired her storytelling skills and hoped that, when I grew up, I would be able to tell stories like she did. And I guess I assumed that, if I got good at it, like Auntie, younger people would ask to hear my stories.


Girls telling storiesWell, I'm not as good at it as she was, but life has handed me many stories worth telling. Within a period of nine years, I went through the illness and death of my closest woman friend, and two of my three adult children. The storytelling, singing, and dancing forms of InterPlay gave me ways to play creatively with these often overwhelming circumstances. Because I had these opportunities to tell my stories, in the presence of people willing to witness them, I could get inside the stories and embody them more fully. And then, letting them go from this deeper level, I could allow them to change, and to change me.


Recognizing what a gift this was, I began using the InterPlay principles and forms to help me write about my experiences. I had written in some form or another all of my life, but I decided to write these stories in a genre new to me, that of creative non-fiction. This genre involves telling a factually accurate story while using the fiction writers' tools of literary crafting. This approach produces a more compelling and vivid story, like the lively personal telling approach that Auntie used.


So, in the past five years, I've enlisted the help of a writer's group in Pittsburgh and made yearly trips to the Iowa Writer's Summer Festival to learn these literary crafting tools. And since this is the age of the internet, I've instituted a website, a by-weekly blog which is my writing practice, a facebook fan page, Dancing With Everything, and this monthly newsletter to keep in connection with folks who want to follow my InterPlay and writing activities. I am currently revising and polishing my manuscript, "Dancing on Behalf of Life and Death" with the aim of getting it out into the world as a book in 2012.


Stay tuned to any of these spaces to learn more about my stories and perhaps, how you might get started telling yours.

Sheila K. Collins 2011

A Special Invitation to CEOs, Program and HR Directors of Social Service Agencies


Join staff from InterPlay Pittsburgh and the Kelly Strayhorn Theater to hear about exciting, innovative resources to help you serve clients and support your staff.



A Breakfast Gathering 

Wednesday November 9th

8 - 9:30 am

CCAC Conference Room

5916 Penn Ave. Pittsburgh



See how the performance troupe, Wing & A Prayer Pittsburgh Players uses the improvisational InterPlay forms of singing, dancing, story-telling to assist Pittsburgh agencies to achieve their noble purposes, while enhancing the energy of their staff.


Hear InterPlay Pittsburgh director, Sheila K. Collins describe how, nationally and internationally, InterPlay connects communities and generations, assists people in recovering from trauma, and aids overworked parents and professional helpers in their own self-care.


Talk with Janera Solomon, the director of the Kelly-Strayhorn about how the theater aims to enrich the lives of neighborhood agencies' clients, staff members, and their families.


Meet visiting artist, Soyinka Rahim, from Oakland, CA. and learn about the Inter-generation workshop she is leading November 19th at Dance Alloy.


Receive a copy of Stillpoint: The Dance of Selfcaring Selfhealing, a playbook for people who do caring work and learn about Sheila's upcoming book.


 Lady w/head wrap          Sheila           Lady w/hand on head

         Soyinka Rahim                                           Sheila K. Collins                                                 Janera Solomon 


InterPlay Intergenerational Playshop

The Kelly-Strayhorn Theater and InterPlay Pittsburgh



InterPlay Intergenerational Playshop


Soyinka Rahim, a dancer, musician, and certified InterPlay Leader is an

artist-in-residence with the Wing & A Prayer Pittsburgh Players. She brings her multi-generational workshop to Pittsburgh, where through play and the arts

they are building creative, caring communities. If your clients and your organization are experiencing the stress of "doing more with less," consider inviting staff, clients, and families to discover what results when children and

adults build creative bonds through artful play.



Saturday November 19th 1 - 3 pm

Dance Alloy Studios 5530 Penn Ave. Pittsburgh, PA. 15206   


  Call for agency discounts and group rates



 Click here to download flyer                                         



Sheila K. Collins, PhD 
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