Flux Core Work 2019, Day Three: Welcome to Life.org

Photo by Isaiah Tanenbaum. Post by Emily Hartford (with light edits from Corinna Schulenburg).

For our our warm-up, Isaiah Tanenbaum led a walking tag game where we took on the names of animals, and to avoid being tagged as we were approached by the person who was “it,” we had to call out the name of another player’s animal and redirect the “it” person to them. Then, we did it with country names, and finally, by taking on each other’s names. It was very fun and I was very terrible at it. 

Salma gets some facilitation support from Mercena. Photo by Isaiah Tanenbaum.

Salma Zohdi then led a discussion on revisiting and transforming a project she envisioned a few years ago, processing the 2011 Egyptian revolution. She has a new concept that will weave in an experience of the current Sudanese revolution, looking at cycles of hope and despair in revolutionary times (maybe through wider time, and space?)—with a frame of crossing paths on the NYC subway. Salma shared her ideas and impulses with us, and we talked through connections, heat, possibilities.

We then returned to list-making for our multi-day co-creation project. Back to the lists. We had some folks who were new to the project—Heather Cohn, Kristen Palmer, Sienna Gonzalez, Alisha Spielmann—so I thought it might be good to create another jumping off point. Today’s lists were meant to help us explore the middle of a creative process—the unknown, the muck, the searching. Lists like:

  • Witch’s curse on the theatre maker
  • How to get lost
  • I need…
  • Swamps, fog, mud, haze
  • I want to tell you…
  • Missed exits and roadblocks

Read all the evocative list brilliance here.

They were, again, so beautiful! And then the team broke into three groups, with this prompt: Take at least one list as source material and make a work of theatre. It must contain an obstacle, and at least two of the following:

  • darkness
  • sound/music
  • surprise
  • site-responsive setting
  • silence
  • gesture
  • repetition
  • audience invitation
  • found text
  • written text

The works created were:

–A harrowing, expressionistic and immersive experience called Swamp and Disappointment, in which we were tasked with “making a swamp” and taking it inside to present to a panel of absurdist undermining judges, and which felt like your worst rehearsal day or acting class ever (but funny);

–Welcome to Life.org, where we lined up fast food-style to place an order for Happiness, Space, Time, or History—if we asked the right person, we were gifted with beautiful versions of those things; and

–Lost and Found, a blindfolded guided walk up the hill, focusing on the thing you need to say to a loved one, hearing bits of Heather’s moving “I want to tell you…” list, waiting in the dark and sharing that secret… 

Photos by Isaiah Tanenbaum…except for the one of Isaiah. That’s from Heather Cohn.

Jason Tseng shared this memory from the work:

I loved co-devising a piece with Heather, Isaiah and Neo on Saturday where we created a ritual for getting lost, finding the thing you need to say, and telling it to someone. I loved the lonely procession of people closing their eyes and making their way through the thicket, squeezing through the gap and up the hill to our sacred grove of telling. I love how long it took. I loved taking someone by the hand and walking with them, step by step. I loved the trust given to me and the desire to protect those entrusted to me.

Then Kristen brought us a brand new adventure she is creating called the Mytho-Poetic Scavenger Hunt. We split up into teams, for what we told would be a HIGHLY COMPETITIVE event. We created ‘objects’ to put into the scavenger hunt—for instance, “a noise-maker” or “something that reminds you of someone you’ve lost”—and we invented symbols for them, and put them all of index cards. Then, all of the index cards got mixed up, each team got their pack, and off we went! We could bring back objects, photos of objects, or collective stories about the objects. When we had them all, each team created a cave drawing incorporating each of them. We then rotated to another team’s drawing—and created, and then shared, an investigation into the civilization and culture that their drawings represented.

After dinner, Corinna led us in a conversation about relationships through the lens of collective care. Members of our team shared incredibly beautiful thoughts and experiences—particularly about what Flux and collective care, or Flux as a creative home, has meant for them. I’m still thinking about this conversation, and grateful for it. I believe this is the session that Kristen helped us close out, with wisdom from adrienne marie brown’s Emergent Strategy, about “moving at the speed of trust.”

Then we got to experience Corinna’s trans werewolf play Pack, with an incredible role written for Neo. It was that gorgeous Gus alchemy when she mind-melds with someone she is writing for—and creates something that only they can do, and it’s the thing they were meant to do. We got to hear Becky Byers play a witch bff and Sienna play a gaming bff. We got to experience Kristen’s embodiment of the YouTube mogul fitness bro. We got Rachael-Isaiah banter. We got Anna and Alisha as wolves. We were introduced to my new favorite theatrical convention, Wolf Space. We were very, very lucky.

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