Shouldn’ts and Shoulds

pretty salvage

(Why am I naming days?)
4/28/15, Day 14,237 (Mercena Day 257): The Fruits of Peace

“I am standing at the base of the sacred oak tree where they say you stood,
And the ghosts bloom like flowers among the shouldn’ts and shoulds.”

The moment above was one we found for Salvage in tech together. The transitions were looking beautiful, but they weren’t propelling the story forward. After a late night brainstorm with Heather, Will and Becky on the train home, I realized that by adding Akiko’s tape recorder voice-overs to the transitions, I could accomplish three goals: 1) make the transitions an intrinsic part of the story-telling, 2) track the passage of time more clearly, and 3) deepen the audiences’ relationship with Akiko’s recorded voice as a vessel for her spirit, which was essential for the end of the play to land.

The moment above is the tail end of the transition into scene 3, right before they spring from the ritualized, out-of-time transitional space Heather and the designers created into the real-time world of the play’s action. Kia’s red LED light juxtaposes beautifully against the practical light illuminating their faces from the Tox Tester. Heather choreographed a rise in movement tempo and sharpness at the end of each transition, as if the characters were suddenly materializing from the out-of-time space. In the revised text, we hear Akiko’s voice say the first variation of her father’s favorite untranslatable poem (the line above), and for a moment, with her recorded voice living in that out-of-time place, they are themselves ghosts.

It’s one of my favorite moments from the show, and I’m so glad Isaiah captured it in the pick-up photo shoot we did.


“…and they brought back the girls from Boko Haram (but maybe not those girls) and Joni Mitchell is in a coma (or she isn’t) and there’s a state of emergency in Baltimore (better post your take on Facebook) and the Supreme Court is deliberating on marriage equality and and and…”

I’ve tried to engage less frequently on social media with the Grand Parade of Troubles and Opinions not because I don’t care about the troubles or lack opinions, but because I don’t want social media to be the primary place I act on those thoughts and feelings. I don’t want to let out the steam that should be driving the engine like a tea kettle shrieking.

If it were possible to persuade others on social media I could justify engaging more frequently, but all that seems to do is cast me down rabbit holes of echo chambers and self-righteous posturing (I include myself in those echoes and postures). I still believe that social media engagement can, in the context of other actions in the non-digital world, have a significant, positive impact. It’s just that I used to believe social media could heal the offline world, and now I see it more the other way round.


Yesterday my stressful schedule returned with a vengeance. Several somewhat frantic meetings laid bare just how much work needs to happen in a short time for the National Conference. At the same time, several opportunities re-knocked with a “now or never” rhythm. I did have a beautiful half hour with Mercena in the morning (she’s nearly a two-nap baby now), and a lovely visit from Heather O’Brien, so the day wasn’t all stress and hustle. And I know the old busy-busy is the oldest humble-brag in the book, but if we don’t talk about the crunch we’ll keep getting flattened…

Published by CorinnaSchulenburg

Artist and Activist

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