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The Howling Girls


The Howling Girls

  • Date: Thursday, 31 October 2019, 2pm and 6pm
  • Venue: Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre — 1 Chome-8-1 Nishiikebukuro, Toshima City, Tokyo, Japan

Event Details

Image: © Zan Wimberley

“In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre...five gaunt teenage girls had arrived separately at a Manhattan hospital complaining of identical symptoms. They were wasting away because they couldn’t ‘swallow’... All five believed that some debris or body part from the destruction of the towers had lodged in their throats and produced the symptom. The ear, nose, and throat surgeon who examined the girls discovered that their throats were, indeed, constricted. But he could find no obstruction, no debris, and needless to say, no body parts.” —Susan Faludi, The Terror Dream

This haunting image became the seed for The Howling Girls. Five young women witness a collective trauma that is impossible to digest. Perhaps this anecdote is a metaphor for violation, the sense of being permeable, the terror that sets in when the familiar systems are collapsing - a larger trauma re-inscribed on the body and on the voice. Perhaps this is also a story which echoes a another collective trauma, that is the history of female ‘hysteria,’ a history of not being believed, of speaking a language deemed irrational and unintelligible.

The Howling Girls explores the medium and metaphor of the voice. Featuring a solitary soprano and a throbbing chorus of young voices, together with an immersive electronic orchestration, the wordless opera attempts to communicate in a proto-language beyond the rational: a landscape of sensations that bypass the brain and work directly on the body.

The experiential work functions as a ritual or purgation, in which the desire of reconstituting the voice is performed. The Howling Girls inhabits a space which is seemingly alien, at once primordial and futuristic, a fantasy of new possibilities for language and gender, a monument and a void which gives way to something new.

Further information for this event is available online at the event's website

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