The “Trauma Choir” was created as an homage to the #metoo one year anniversary. In October 2017, I set up Google alerts for one of the larger endemic injustices done to women: sexual harassment. The list of articles that I aggregated is enormous, providing an ugly picture of our society, a selfie of toxic masculinity and chauvinism that spread with the emergence of the likes of Trump, Weinstein, Kavanaugh, and many others. This paradigm shift begs the question: Has anything really changed? Trump is still our president, Weinstein wielded the fortune he amassed to cover his legal fees for assaulting female actresses, and so far has been found not guilty in all the cases. Judge Kavanaugh became a Justice on the Supreme Court . . . So where is the justice? It seems that we cannot expect that to get justice through the political and judicial systems—rooted within the patriarchal structures of our society—as it is. What can be done? First, we need to deal with the accumulation of trauma in our bodies and brains. That is what the “Trauma Choir” aims to do: create a collective space where everyone is welcome to scream all the unprocessed trauma out loud.
“Trauma Choir” depends upon group participation, and it centers around the text from the testimonies of the witnesses during the Kavanaugh-Blasey Ford hearings in the fall of 2018 as well as quotes from Tarana Burke. To begin the performance, I asked the public to join me in an improvised choir space, and divided them by vocal part. Each section of the choir received their staff notes which consisted of music notes, quotes and crirhythms (a script for sound poetry inspired by the experimental works of François Dufrêne). I also explained how to read this notatin. With a bullhorn at my side, I directed the choir, all the members screaming out loud, interpreting their choir section of the staff notes.
Here are quotes performed by members of the choir:
“I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me.” —Dr. Ford
“Me Too, in a lot of ways, is about agency. It’s not about giving up your agency, it’s about claiming it.” —Tarana Burke