Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Play, Play, Plays

© 2009 Karen Van Fossan

Well! Since the last time I wrote to you, I've celebrated a dear friend's 100th birthday, heard carrots sing, seen shoes dance, roared like a dragon with hundreds of Devils Lake school children, listened to grown adults make prairie sounds with napkins, and generally exhausted myself to the core.

But, as Jeanne said last fall, after the St Paul peace protests, "I am going to burn out, rather than rust out!"

During the past month, as an artist-in-residence in Bismarck, Mandan, and Devils Lake -- I wondered once in a while if I would burn out. But, before I had much chance to devote myself to burning out, Tracy tuned to a radio show on "play." The spirituality of play, as a matter of fact.

There in the extended-stay Devils Lake motel, as the radio listed the merits of play, Tracy designed a life-sized calculator costume, and I painted a child-sized refrigerator box. While smearing paint on my PJs, I learned some curious facts:

  • Play is any non-competitive activity in which you lose yourself, while losing a sense of time.
  • Play is pointless. You enjoy it so much, you can do it without a goal.
  • Physical play is crucial to children's development of empathy.
  • In a study by the National Institute for Play, none of the murderers interviewed had ever engaged in play.
So I saw, as I taught dramatic arts with Ramona and Tracy, that the children were certainly playing -- inventing rhythms, creating skits, rolling from on-stage fireplaces, leaping from on-stage windows, designing a group dance.

But was I playing?

I quickly glanced at the clock. Wow! Where had the time gone?

I had no idea. I'd been playing.


Annette Martel said...

Wow! That sounds just lovely! I hope sometime I can play with you all soon! :D

JGH said...

WOW! We need to play more often!! Let's this weekend! I'm glad you had a good time, But I'm even more glad that you're home.

blogslut said...

Love this blog. Reminds me of what's important!

Kathy B. said...

Absolutely love the refrigerator and calculator - now if someone would paint a life-sized computer for me, I'd enjoy work a lot more!