“The opposite of play is not work. It’s depression.”
Brian Sutton-Smith, Play Theorist

Prescott Circus Theatre

By Jarrel “Chumbinho” Phillips, Guest Curator and AVE Executive Director

When was the last time you played?
Play, in its purest form, extends beyond the innate intelligence of our biological processes raising two puzzling questions: How? and Why? How does play work in our lives? And, why are we born with this ability?

Studies show that play is paramount to the development of young children. The lack of it can be the catalyst for many social, physical, and cognitive disorders throughout childhood, adolescence, and even adulthood. Research has proven that play is the way children learn about the world around them. Now as an adult, I find myself asking, does play serve a purpose outside of our childhood and adolescence? And, why do some of us stop playing as we get older… or do we really?

From childhood to present, play has consumed me. I am an artist who thrives off creativity. I am a practitioner of capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian ritualized martial art form that is described as “playing” not “fighting.” It is no exaggeration to state that play is a fundamental part of my life. And with 13 years of experience as a teacher, I have spent most of my days with the master players I refer to as young people. From the San Francisco Bay Area to East Africa, my interactions with young people range from homework assistance to outside supervision to basketball coaching, circus acrobatics, and of course, capoeira. My lifestyle is centered around the things that I enjoy most (photography, film, children, capoeira, circus, and travel). I make a living through work that is my recreation. I do not have one without the other. How I Play—is How I live.

The purpose of this exhibition is to display how play takes shape in our lives. Through the personal and cultural experiences of children, adults, artists, and scholars, this exhibition explores the existence and significance of play beyond childhood to adulthood; the stage of life where society often deems play unnecessary. However, play is all around us. How We Play—is How We live.

More Information:

How We Play: Circus Acrobatics, Breakin’ & Capoeira
October 24, 2014 – May 1, 2015
Child Development and Family Studies
3rd and 4th Floors
Rosenberg Library, City College of San Francisco
Ocean Campus, 50 Phelan Avenue
Breathing Freedom Library Exhibitions Fall 2014


Mon – Thurs 7:45am – 7:45pm
Fri 7:45am – 2:45pm
Sat 10:00am- 1:45pm
Sun closed

Play is essential to all of our development and to our sense of well being. In this exhibition, Guest Curator Jarrel Phillips explores the concept of play as taught in City College of San Francisco’s Child and Family Development Department. He looks at the practice of circus arts, breakin’ (break dancing) and of Capoeira, the Brazilian form that is part dance, part martial art.

Featured artists, organizations, teachers, and others in this exhibition include: Capoeira Ijexa, Project Commotion, Circus Center, Mestre Urubu Malandro, Zanzibar Stone Town Capoeira, Prescott Circus, B-Boy Blakk (Cloud9Tribe/All Tribes SF Zulu Nation), B-Boy Iron Monkey (Renegade Rockers), B-boy Finesse (SF CR8IVE), CCSF’s Child and Family Development Department, Fleeky (Circus Automatic), Inka Siefker, Serchmaa Byanba, Dominik Wyss (Suns of Cayuga/AcroActive), Rice and Beans Cooperative, Xiaohong Weng, Veronica Blair, and the Uncle Junior Project.

All photos in this exhibition have been photographed by Jarrel Phillips unless otherwise noted. How We Play design and layout by Christine Joy Ferrer. Title Illustrations by Jian “Aguia” Giannini.

You can also download the How We Play PDF.