Star-Bulletin Features

Tuesday, February 2, 1999

By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Participants warm up with stretching exercises during PlayShop.

You’ve gotta
work at play

You are what you create,
and PlayShop helps unlock
creative potential

By Kimberly Fu


TWO accountants walk into a crowded room. They grab their seats, make small talk, then almost immediately stick eager hands into colorful jars of paint and begin putting fingers to paper.

"It's a living experiment," says Angelina Genie Joseph, an artistic spirit who lives and breathes her art, running a series of creativity PlayShops for adults.

Through her PlayShops, Joseph hopes to dispel the myths and fears surrounding creativity through interactive activities. On the agenda are improvisation, theater games, goal-setting and more. "Expect the unexpected," reads her class syllabus.

Bob Frost isn't worried. "I look at it as an opportunity to let your brain go into random access mode. The bottom line is kind of to spin free and just have fun."

Frost, 54, describes himself as an atypical accountant. Far from being entrenched in a number-crunching lifestyle, he goes out of his way to explore the finer arts of creativity. He plays bass in the local band Coconut Joe, sings, and has played Santa at women's shelters, preschools and American Lung Association events for the past 15 years.

He says creativity has helped him to be more relaxed in the workplace and makes his clients feel more at home. His ceiling is decorated with Christmas cards, and besides adding a whimsical touch to his office, it's also an ice breaker.

CPA Harvey Rackmil, 40, wanted to discover creative ways to unwind during the busy tax season. For him, the class is an entertaining escape.

"Angelina is very good at just letting you go out there on the fringe and experiment," he said. His goal: "to think 'out of the box' more and to be more creative in my life ... . There's pretty much nothing I wouldn't try."

By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Showing off their finger paint creations are, from left,
Harvey Rackmil, Clara Chorley, Holly Lawrence and Michael
Tannenbaum. Above, Tannenbaum and Rackmil
leap into the Name Game.

No stranger to fun, the avid athlete -- and winner of a Jerry Seinfeld look-alike contest at Ryan's last year -- makes time for acting lessons, Toastmasters events, impact training and music, after putting in a 50-hour work week. Although he calls himself musically impaired, Rackmil still aspires to a musical career.

"I think kazoo lessons are next in the offering," he said.

To Joseph, creativity is the key to happiness and success, and she has realized both. An award-winning film and television director/screenwriter, Joseph is also an acting coach, newspaper columnist, a senior partner with the Alliance for Drama Education in Hawaii, co-host of the interview-based talk show "Love Life Radio," a divorce-mediator and marriage counselor. During down time she offers private counseling and works the lecture circuit.

Always busy, Joseph said every little step moves her closer to her goal -- to help people rediscover their creative side, have them incorporate it into their daily lives and watch them bloom in personality and productivity.

"Creativity is not a noun, it's a process, a way of living," she said. "It's the core of my being. When I'm feeling creative I'm happy. It's like all is right with the world."

Studio jeweler, educator and creativity expert Ken Bova feels the same way. "Creativity," he said, "is the process in which the unmanifest becomes manifest.

"If you just think an idea or imagine a situation, I don't consider that creativity. Creativity requires effort in order to make it real."

The Montana artist, who will speak about creativity at the University of Hawai'i tomorrow, believes everyone has a creative spark, but not all will go the extra mile to make it flame.

Bova said it takes convincing for people to take creativity seriously, and for educators and leaders to recognize its use for personal and professional growth.

Creativity's cultivation is often abandoned at an early age. "It's either trained out of us or criticized out of us or the intrusion of simple day-to-day living obscures it," Bova said.

Criticizing a person instead of an idea is also a no-no, he said and suggests avoiding unreasonable comparisons between yourself and someone you admire. Comparing your piano technique to Mozart's will get you nowhere except the loony bin, but, realizing that even Mozart was a beginner at one point, will give you more to look forward to.

Bova's advice: "Start where they started and do the best you can."

Joseph said creativity involves risk, which makes some people apprehensive. "You have to be willing to do something goofy, or to fail.

Bova warns that reclaiming creativity will not happen overnight. You will need to "take one step at a time, very carefully."

He offers the following tips:

bullet Recognize the enemies of creativity and stay away from them.

bullet Pay attention. Recognize and do not dismiss the little daily events that are creative acts -- like fixing the kitchen sink.

bullet Visualize, imagine, manifest every idea.

bullet Be willing to invest time, money or practice in creative activities.

bullet Lastly, keep a sense of humor.

Creativity PlayShops

bullet Who: Led by Angelina Genie Joseph, for adults
bullet When: 5 to 7 p.m. Sundays, Feb. 7 to April 25
bullet Where: To be announced
bullet Cost: $10 per session
bullet Materials: Bring a looseleaf binder and crayons to the first class
bullet Call: 735-8776


bullet What: "On Creativity: A Short Guide to Tripping the Switch," with Ken Bova
bullet When: 7 p.m. tomorrow
bullet Where: University of Hawaii Art Auditorium
bullet Cost: Free
bullet Call: Kim Coffee-Isaak, 946-2903
bullet Also: Bova conducts workshop on Soft Tech Jewelry Thursday and Friday. Call 947-6412.

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