Core Work 10.22.19: “You third rail?”

Report and picture by Emily Hartford.

WHO: Corey Allen (video chat), Neo Cihi, Sienna Gonzalez, Emily Hartford, Corinna Schulenburg, Isaiah Tanenbaum 

WHAT: Reading and discussing new PACK pages (by Corinna Schulenburg) featuring Bali, Harker, and Tanner; Experimenting with a devising exercise around Metra (by Emily Hartford and Ned Massey) that explored elemental communication for climate revolutionaries.

MOMENTS OF MEANING (collective note-taking):

  • NEO: Reading the scene where Wolf offers Harker the opportunity [to fully join the trans werewolves through unadulterated wolf T, and the potential for a new and separate society] – and learning about the unwritten scene to come. The reflection on childhood that leads to the conclusion spoke directly to my heart and soul.
  • CORINNA: Getting to hear Corey read Bali and in particular that tricky monologue in a cold read, where he caught all those complexities and ridiculousnesses
  • EMILY: I want to lift that up too—it struck me that we were getting to meet a character that I’d been waiting for (since Bali is being written for Corey, but this is the first time he’s read him). I thought, “Someone new is here now.”
  • ISAIAH: Emily’s comment about Bali’s monologue—the hidden moon coming from a place of real need, coming to him in the moment he needed it. That struck me in understanding Bali and what he needs and wants.
  • SIENNA: The fact that there is such a dedicated, consistent effort to bring people together. For Corey to be in something really cool in Denver and make time to meet us here—and Flux making that space.
  • CORINNA: The foot-tap Sienna created [in the METRA work].
  • NEO: Corinna and Sienna’s interpretation of that exercise—it was SO different from what I would have thought of!
  • SIENNA: I felt the same—the beauty and meaning that Neo and Isaiah found in their interpretation.
  • CORINNA: Love for Isaiah as our piano man!
  • NEO: Emily’s very cool experiment—created in a way that allowed for a lot of understanding of the world of the play, dramaturgy, context, and how we can engage with them. It was broken down in easy to consume steps with grand room for exploration.
  • ISAIAH: The notion that a play can communicate meaning to the audience through senses that are not necessarily aural or visual…electrical impulses and smells…it would be so interesting from a production experience—how would we communicate through smell?
  • SIENNA: I remember design conversations in school. One teacher said, lighting is the psychology of the play. Another—I love how sound and light can work together because they are the breath of the play. This challenged us to think about the breath. How the play breathes come through design and audiences don’t necessarily pick up on that consciously.
  • CORINNA: Can I lift up what Sienna just said?


We’re still finding our footing a bit with this new program, so we ended up canceling our last session as we did not achieve a critical mass of participants. (Disappointing, but it also meant that Corinna, Isaiah, and I could tackle some critical fundraiser planning and Creative Partner business!) At any rate, we were very excited to jump back in this week, with Corinna and I supplying this Core Work’s activities.

Corinna started the evening by filling Corey in on PACK’s backstory, and on Corey’s character, Bali—an uber-masculine fitness guru Youtube vlogger bro—while everyone arrived and got settled. (Corey joined us by video chat, as he is currently rehearsing the role of Orsino in Twelfth Night at Denver Center for the Performing Arts—do you want to see that right this instant, or what??) 

After we officially greeted each other, we dove into the new PACK pages! First, we focused on Bali, including a moment when things turn for the character; Corey weighed in on some questions from Corinna, and we discussed Bali’s trajectory. (Please note that Bali’s fitness journey in this section includes kettlebell, followed by parkour, followed by “third-railing” [which takes place on a subway track and is exactly what it sounds like!]) Then, we got to hear a pivotal scene where Harker (Neo’s character) is given the chance to fully and immediately join the rest of the trans werewolves through the offering of a syringe full of pure wolf testosterone (not the watered-down version he’d been taking). We talked about Harker’s choices, and especially where Corinna and Neo think he’s heading by the end of the play. Corinna described a culminating, yet-to-be written moment, where Harker gets a message from his childhood that opens up the right choice for the future. Neo expressed a deep connection to this idea.

Then, we said goodnight to Corey, and moved over to Metra. I’m hoping to bring in new pages soon, but I’m waiting until my co-writer can be in the space with me to experience them. So, I am gleefully taking advantage of this time with brilliant artists, to really play around with some of the ideas in the play, in a less text-based/literal/linear way. That’s all to say, I brought them a weirdo exercise, and they made such cool stuff! Metra is set about 25 years from now, in a world where drastic action to stem climate catastrophe and disaster capitalism has…not occurred. So now, shit is very bad, and revolutionaries are tapping into an earthly and elemental magic to try to save the world. SO, I asked the team to explore some ‘elemental’ methods of communication (for example, a bee’s waggle dance, or a whale’s echolocation), and create an exchange of information that is somehow legible to an audience. First, Sienna and Corinna created an improv scene (pulling in Isaiah and Neo as unwitting targets), in which their journalist characters used a secret, crow-inspired gestural and sound language to communicate with each other and drive the interview. And Isaiah and Neo created a secret code in dance—coordinating the attack on an oil pipeline through a gestural language (avoiding pesky recording devices)—a revolutionaries’ waggle dance. Finally, the four tackled the exercise as a group, creating a full-body movement experiment, accompanied by Isaiah on the piano, where the other three each used the variables of tempo, pitch, and chords vs. individual notes to create a language and attempt to learn and sync with others’. Then, we talked over how I could hone this exercise in the future, and how it might ultimately enrich an existing play.

Finally—collective note-taking, and grateful goodbyes.

Leave a comment