This project emerged from a collision of events and milestones from September 2013:
The ten-year anniversary of my assault, which I had stayed silent about;
The closing of the statute of limitations in the state of Michigan, where the assault took place;
A high-stress and high-profile performance, the very first Resonant Bodies Festival;
Acute vocal loss, followed by a diagnosis of bilateral vocal cord paresis.
Bessel Van Der Kolk’s book The Body Keeps the Score illustrates how trauma manifests as a feeling of separateness, and healing resides in its opposite: integration, unification, and wholeness.
This project is the first creative work I have originated, and it is highly personal. I knew it would be a challenging undertaking, but I vastly underestimated the degree of challenge—and transformation—that it would bring to my life, both personally and artistically.
I began talking with this group of collaborators as far back as 2015. I fundraised and had the first full workshop in May 2018, and another workshop that September. At that point I hit a wall: the piece—intended to be an evening-length work of new compositions and devised theater, fixed and tourable—felt preachy, dissatisfying, and disconnected. As the leader of the project, I didn’t like it and didn’t know how to fix it. My advisors and collaborators urged me to feel what I wanted and needed, but when I sat with that question, I got silence in response: no one was home. It actually triggered feelings from my assault 15 years ago: shame, numbness, and paralysis.
Eventually I realized what was missing, what I needed and could not move forward without: DESIRE. It was the part of myself I blamed for causing the violent assault and subsequent suffering. Coping as many trauma survivors do, I had bound and gagged my desire to gain a sense of control in my life. I learned how to live cerebrally. Had it not been for this project, which challenging me to be a creative leader, I probably could have lived without this part of myself for another 15 years.
I had lost myself in this project by trying to please others and from an overwhelming sense of duty to my collaborators, funders, and the community of sexual violence survivors. I was feeling the opposite of desire: obligation, guilt, and worry. The only way forward out of this stuck place was to feel what I wanted and needed. Desire, creativity, and leadership are intertwined. This new iteration of the project—as a series of unfixed, ongoing concerts—is what I want and feel on-fire about. I am so thrilled about the music we will make and share, and I am also thrilled to truly integrate separate parts of myself in one place: vocalist and performer; curator and producer; victim advocate and public figure. It unifies separate selves, public and private, both singing together. If the response to trauma is to control and separate, this is its opposite: to release and unify.