Finding the “Kernel”


It’s almost hard to believe that we have been in Ireland for a week today. I almost feel like the week went by really fast…granted that could be because we were too busy exploring, touring, and getting used to our surroundings. There’s just so much to take in! On Thursday we traveled from Armagh to Belfast to meet with Hanna Slattne, the literary manager at the Tinderbox Theater, at the Municipal Arts Building (MAC). Hanna gave us an overview of what the Tinderbox Theater does, like:

– Work with Northern Ireland Writers
– Work with never before produced plays – only NEW writers
– Read all plays, and feedback on all plays
– Use local resources
– Keep a library of contemporary plays 

We were able to get a tour of the building, which was completely built around the performing arts. There were several rooms for performance, a dance room, a conference/studio room. There were also several displays set up that we could interact with, like the table and four chairs:


Table and Four Chairs by Robert Therrien

After the tour we sat down with Hanna and she walked us through two exercises that would get to the “Kernel” of our plays. First, she made us write a little piece about our play, something that would go on the back of a DVD box, which mine ended up like this: “Courtney’s play explores the challenge of religious acceptance from two different countries, while two strangers get hopelessly lost in Ireland”. Right or wrong, that’s what I had. Then, we performed diagnostics on this, asking ourselves if it was hard to come up with an answer. Is there more work to be done, or do we have the answer already? To me, it was a little hard considering the fact that I’m still not sure what way I wanted this play to go. When I wrote my piece, I realized that I was looking at a religious aspect more and more – all the while, I’m very ignorant to religious specifics. So, I know where I’m going (kind of) and I also need to do my research, thoroughly. 

The second exercise was called a “Senryu”, which was “the same as a haiku except instead of dealing with nature it is specifically about human nature and human relationships”. You take three lines and come up with a story for it. I chose:

“Passport check:
my shadow waits
across the border”
(George Swede)

My story line for that was someone who committed a murder and was trying to leave the country, and while they stand in the line having their passport checked they can’t help but wonder if they’ll be caught. As they stand in line, their shadow is cast just beyond the passport check station, and they are fixated on the fact that their shadow is waiting for them. I’m not sure if that’s the beginning, or the end of a play, but you get the point. 

For class tomorrow, we have to come up with a Senryu for our play. What three lines would we use for our plays? My play is going to be based off of my impromptu tour of Ireland my first day, with some religious difference and tension thrown in. We’ll get to share what we come up with tomorrow. 

Anyway, I felt that Hanna helped a lot of us realize whether we were on the right track, or if we have a lot of work to do. Some of us found our “Kernel” and some of us realized we still haven’t found it. It was a good exercise to bring us back to the point. If it’s easy to write a Senryu, or if you can write your DVD tidbit, you know where you’re going, and you’re on the right track. If you can’t, then you have work to do and you know where you need to concentrate. It was helpful! 

I am going to end this post with one more picture. After a long week of running, and getting into the swing of things, we got to visit the Giant’s Causeway…


On top of the world 😉