Core Work 12.16.19: Tardigrade Survival Manual

Post by Emily Hartford.

WHO: C. Bain, Sienna Gonzalez (video chat), Emily Hartford, Ariel Kim, Ned Massey, Lori Elizabeth Parquet, Monna Sabouri, Corinna Schulenburg, Isaiah Tanenbaum (video chat), and Justin Woo

WHAT: Reading and discussing new pages from the play, Pack by Corinna Schulenburg; reading and discussing the short screenplay, Drunks by Justin Woo; generative experimentation for a new climate crisis play by Corinna Schuleburg; reading and discussing new pages from Metra: A Climate Change Play with Songs, by Emily Hartford and Ned Massey.

HOW: We welcomed new people to Core Work! Our new folks were: Ariel, who Emily invited as a guest to read in Justin’s screenplay; Monna, who came to us through our recent call for MENA artists (in particular, to support Salma Zohdi’s Revolution/Train), and Ned, who is the co-writer with Emily on Metra and an A+ spouse. (Also, this may have been Flux Creative Partner Lori’s first ever Core Work!!! We snagged her on a brief interlude from her artistic jet-setting.) 

The evening shook out to be text-focused for a good portion of our time. We got to hear a new section of Pack, including the beginnings of a feminine-magic-connection between Asaba and Harmony, and the moment when the strength-obsessed Bali is physically bested by our protagonist, Harker. Then, Justin led his first session, as we read the short screenplay that he plans to shoot in 2020–following a woman seeking revenge for a loved one who was killed in a drunk driving incident (stretching across extremes of violence and mercy in a tight two pages!)

Then, Corinna got us up on our feet and our generative neurons firing. She brought us a very new project concept: a play about the climate crisis based on this

“But artists can register scale. They can transpose the fact of melting ice to inundated homes and bewildered lives, gauge it against long history and lost future. Science and economics have no real way to value the fact that people have lived for millennia in a certain rhythm, have eaten the food and sung the songs of certain places that are now disappearing. This is a cost only art can measure, and it makes sense that the units of that measurement are sadness and fury — and also, remarkably, hope.” 

Our prompts were open-ended, and our time, tight! We had 10 minutes to break into groups to create things with the following titles:

Tardigrade Survival Manual

Fury for a Dying Glacier

A joke to make the apocalypse laugh (which became: A Roast for the Apocalypse)

Survival Song for a Child in the Egg (context)

Tardigrade Survival Manual became, of course, the Powerpoint from which our post takes its lead image–with C. as the insightful lead tardigrade presenter and Emily as his water bear assistant. 

Fury for a Dying Glacier became a gorgeous poem by Justin. Here’s just a short taste of its brilliance:

“We were bacteria.
We were fish.
We are destroyers of worlds. 

When we go home,
what sound will we make? “

Survival Song for a Child in the Egg became a haunting creation by Monna, Ariel, and Ned, with a melody from a Persian lullaby.

And A Roast for the Apocalypse, by our two video-chatters, Sienna and Isaiah, became banter to take on the end of the world, including: 

“Sienna: Hey folks, we have apocalypse here in the audience. We’ll do our best to roast you before you roast the rest of us. I actually have to thank you. Having you here is affirming my anxiety — for the first time I’m actually right about impending doom. 

Isaiah: I just found out about a search engine, whose ad revenue goes towards planting trees. Who knew my porn searches could be ethical after all? MOM DON’T COME IN I’M REFORESTING THE AMAZON.”

 And finally, we had more climate catastrophe…fun? With a whole bunch of new pages from Metra: A Climate Change Play with Songs. In particular, we looked at revisions between the characters written for Lori and Corinna: Cori and Sam.


  • Corinna: I was really moved by the song, and Monna, the way we were connected to that tradition of parent to child survival—and the gift you gave with that melody
  • Sienna: I want to lift up the exercise around the apocalypse, because what I miss most of school is prompts to think creatively, and finding those nuggets
  • Lori: In Justin’s poem…remembering to listen out for the sounds of our death–that image will be vivid with me for some time.
  • C: Corinna’s character work on Famine [an entity that Corinna’s character in Metra embodies]–WHO IS SHE?? What’s her name? I want to know her.
  • Isaiah: I want to lift up the coolness that was Pack, and specifically the moment that jumped out was the experience of everybody reading, and having Sienna’s [Harmony’s] spell coming in from the video. The sound and room were totally different—came in to this aural and intimate space from an open space. Yet again more excited about all the production possibilities that that show has.
  • Justin: Being called out for accidental hetero policing while trying to avoid other tropes—thank you for the learning experience for my writing.
  • Monna: The comedy show. That was funny–that was killer.
  • Ariel: I want to lift up the whole night. I’ve been thinking about Meryl Streep’s quoting of Carrie Fisher: “Take your broken heart and make it into art”–that’s kind of what this night was about. 
  • Monna: The freaking Powerpoint presentation! “You always have access to dormant states.”
  • Ned: I really enjoyed the whole evening. I was nervous, so I listened a lot.
  • Corinna: Justin, I want to lift up how awesome it was to hear two parts of your voice as a writer, and your power of condensing–in both the poem and the screenplay, taking large things and bringing them into concentrated forms.

Emily: Thank you to Corinna and Lori, and the schedule changes that you both had to make to be here to support Metra. I’m very grateful.

Leave a comment