Elinor Fuchs Response to Artifacts of Consequence
“What is space like on this planet? Interior or exterior, built or natural? Is space here confined or wide open? Do you see a long passage with many “stations”? Do you see a landscape of valleys and mountains? Sea and land? Are we on an island? In a cave? In a desert or a jungle? On a country road?”
- The world of the play is entirely interior, and very much man-made. It feels high tech, but also kind of shoddy. It is an underground habitat, but not the kind we could imagine existing in our reality. Think less Isaac Asimov, more Terry Gilliam.
“Now ask about the time. How does time behave on this planet? Does “time stand still”? Is time frantic and staccato on this planet? Is it leisurely, easy-going time? How is time marked on this planet? By clock? By the sun? By the sound of footsteps? What kind of time are we in? Cyclical time? Eternal time? Linear time? What kind of line? One day? One lifetime?”
- There is no sunlight in this world, so time isn’t quite measured naturally. Instead, time is measured by routine. The routine of Dallas going out for supplies, of Ari learning her lessons. In our own world, long term time is marked by cycles: birth and death, decay and renewal. In this world, however, nothing really gets renewed – long term time is a slow march towards entropy with no possibility for rebirth.
“What is the mood on this planet? Jolly? Serious? Sad? Ironic? Sepulchral? The mood is not just a question of plot (comedies are “happy,” etc.), “tone” also contributes to mood. What is the tone of this planet? Delicate or coarse? Cerebral or passionate? Restrained or violent? How are mood and tone created on this planet? Through music? Light, sound, color, shape? What shapes? Curves? Angles?”
- The fact that the setting of this planet is so removed from reality allows for some tonal dissonances as well. The mood is comical, yet desperate. The scale is global, but intimate. Conversations are more cerebral, with passions being implied beneath the surface.
“Look at the first image. Now look at the last. Then locate some striking image near the center of the play [...] Why was it essential to pass through the gate of the central image to get from the first to the last?”
- The first image that comes to mind as striking was that of Dallas coming back for the first time, and the three characters acting almost like a normal family, full of well-meaning quips with their own deep subtext. The final image that comes to mind is that of Ari holding a limp string in a dying habitat, knowing that nobody is coming to save her. My middle striking image is that of Ari putting her mouth on Theo’s stomach.
- Ari’s arc through the story is essentially one that we all need to learn as part of growing up: that sometimes doing the right thing means denying immediate desires. That sometimes we need to set aside what we really want for what is best for ourselves and others long term. Most people learn that lesson at least partly before they reach Ari’s age in the play, but I think Ari hadn’t had to deal with a dilemma like that yet because she hadn’t been exposed to something that she really wanted before.
- Thus, I think that the scene of her expressing her desire for Theo is critical for the story. Before the story began, she had been surrounded by two extremes, the tough and pragmatic Minna, and Dallas, the sentimental art connoisseur. Dallas was constantly breaking protocol to get what he wanted, and Minna was constantly destroying beautiful objects that she saw as an impediment to survival. Her wanting of Theo, as understandable as that desire may have been, was the moment when she began to be implicated in the complexities of adulthood.
Artifacts of Consequence Conceptual Sentences:
- Artifacts of Consequence is about what we choose to value.
o Artifacts of Consequence is about what and whom we choose to value when life forces us to make difficult decisions.
§ Artifacts of Consequence is about making decisions about what are values really are when life forces us to make difficult choices. Compassion, pragmatism, loyalty and integrity are all considered to be positive traits on their own right, but what happens when we’re placed in a situation where those values all contradict each other? The characters in the play are in an underwater habitat in a post-apocalyptic setting, and their values are tested when the supplies that they’ve been counting on run out.