This week I had the pleasure of reading Ashlin Halfnight’s Artifacts of Consequence. A post-apocalyptic play about the survival of the human race which debuted off broadway in 2009. Responding to Fuch’s questions this play:
One Simple Sentence:
Four survivors of an apocalypse must work together in an underground bunker to preserve culture and their sanity.
One Complex Sentence on what the play is about:
In a post apocalyptic world underwater three survivors live day to day preserving artifacts of culture when a mysterious stranger comes a board to challenge everything they know.
5 Sentence version:
Minna is the head of a government refuge mission in an underwater bunker used to preserve culture and the lives of several thousand people. She lives with a teenager named Arri and depends on a bounty named Dallas who travels outside the bunker to find special medication called FRPs for everyone who lives inside. One day a mysterious man named Theo arrives in the Bunker against expectation or protocol. Minna accepts him in despite policy challenging procedure and their respective humanities.
Space on the planet of Ashlin Halfnight’s Artifacts of Consequence is very interior. We are living underwater as we find out later in the play in a bunker which means that everything is very concealed into a man-made metal space. Space is very contained. The way I imagine it the world is bigger than what we would see on stage. Minna hides a lot from the audience which leaves room for the imagination. Since we are underwater in a bunker I do not see any landscapes other than darkness and artificial lighting. Time seems to jump on this planet over the course of several weeks. Time only stands still at the very end of the show. Time is leisurely as the characters are not exactly in a rush to go anywhere in the bunker. Time is marked by the repetition of people's habits. When we see the procedures that Minna and Dallas go through, ie- "Any injuries? Guns. " we understand that time is traveling. Time works in a cyclical, chronological order over several weeks. There are no storms that happen on the planet however we know that it is dangerous outside the bunker. We do not have extreme temperatures since the bunker is moderated however I imagine the air quality can get very stale without fresh air. The environment can get suffocating. Since we are underwater I do not imagine there is a seasonal feel to the world. The mood on the planet is very serious with sparing moments of joy. The tone of the world is very cerebral. Tone can shift in the world however based on what the youngest character, Ari, is watching or listening to. The unseen worlds are very large, dark and grandiose. These are the chambers Minna has forbidden Ari to walk down because they contain "snakes". The snakes are a cover-up for the dead bodies down the corridors. I imagine the sounds of the world include a lot of strange machine noises. This is a private world which is very beuqacratic. Behind closed doors, Minna is managing and storing bits and pieces of culture and secrecy in what survives in the new world. We see the characters work together and apart in different ways throughout the show. The single most important figure is Minna who appears to be "by the book" save for her own humanity which challenges her to break her own rules for the love of humanity. There are about a 100 people who exist in this world. The characters are the main ones but outside of that the audience acts as a deciding factor in what lives and what dies in the world. I imagine the characters wear a lot of neo-western outfits which are formal but clean and simple. I do not imagine the characters are interested in the latest trend of clothing rather they wear what's clean looking and efficient to wear while maintaining the bunker. Figures interact in very brisk, efficient speak that is very practical. They do not speak in metaphor. Mina has the main power in this world. She has it because she is cold, practical and efficient. Minna stays respected by being stern with everyone she encounters. She begins to lose control however as she realizes that she is no longer able to provide the FRPs for her human cargo. The language habits on this planet are practical with no metaphor. The kind of feeling the language brings is that these people spend a lot of time together and because of this their interactions are kept minimal. Ultimately, their language is very logical and pragmatic. The world changes when Minna starts to lose control emotionally. In the landscape the bunker starts to fall a part with leaks increasing. Minna starts to plan her own demise and asks that Dallas take Ari to safety. Eventually, Theo escapes the bunker leaving Ari and Minna behind. I imagine that the entire story takes place over summer. As time progresses the water temperature heats up. The language gets more stressful as the story progresses because the characters realize they're going to die. We have a moment of happiness in the story before we hit the basic plot of tragedy. We think that Theo loves Ari after their one night together but then we find out he leaves her behind because she can't swim. By the end of the story the only thing that doesn't change is that Minna chooses to die. She is still in control even to the end when she has lost her mind. This progression tells us that Minna's rejection of her own humanity is what does her in. The play is changed by the end because all characters except Theo have died and all of culture is lost.
Cornell Box in Response to Artifacts of Consequence
After being asked to create an abstract box inspired by the works of Joseph Cornell and in response to the play I came up with this.. I challenged myself to use a minimalist array of primarily dark bluish green shiny paper because I wanted the dark colors to emulate the mystery of where they are and for the shininess to represent the camp I felt when exploring popular culture. The gears to me represent the cold and mechanical choices Minna needs to make to stay alive. The pink neon represents the sharp contrast that the romantic subplot between Theo and Ari has to the rest of the world. The sharp shards of iridescent explore the fragments of humanity the characters hold on to.