The Angry Choir, #FlogstaScream and Rant Club are a tryptic of projects experimenting with anger, rage and powerlessness. In different ways, they provide forums for ‘blowing upwards’, rather than exploding *at* people or repressing emotions down within ourselves.
Collectively, these projects explore the beauty and value of rage, anger and powerlessness. They work through these experiences and celebrate their creative expression. Through this work, we improve our capacity to acknowledge, deal with, discharge and deploy such energies with wisdom.
Anger is an important emotion that can be difficult to express and channel. It is often misunderstood, socially sanctioned and can cause problems in our relationships. It has also inspired some of humankind’s most valuable and well loved music. Anger is many things, but it can undoubtedly be a precious creative force.
Angry Choir provides an opportunity for people to spend time expressing anger through music. The songs in our wide-ranging repertoire express anger in all its forms: destructive and constructive; fully blooded rage and silently seething; unbridled scorn and stony contempt. Our singing explores both the heat and the cold of this complex emotion, playing with different manifestations of anger through the work of myriad artists. As we as perform the work of individual artists who have sought to express their own personal experiences of anger in song, Choristers connect to anger as a universal human experience.
The Angry Choir is not about performing for others. We do not seek anyone’s approval. We sing when we feel like it – sometimes when we are invited to, and sometimes when we are not. We sing for ourselves and each other: It’s like a Cockney knees-up, but filled with fury.
The Swedish neighbourhood of Flogsta has a tradition where every night at 10pm, students from across the city open their windows and scream at the top of their voices. They scream with rage, despair, and plenty of humour – and listen to the echoes in the neighbourhood as others do the same. These shouts, wails and howls are not directed at anyone in particular – they are screamed into the black.
When you read between the lines, many posts on social media are about screaming into the black. On Twitter especially, there’s a sense in which – whilst superficially someone is ‘making a point’ – at a deeper level they are acting out the impulse to have a big fat scream.
Screaming on Twitter isn’t always very healthy and it can lead to trouble. It often fails to have a cathartic effect, because the screaming is hidden behind the ‘point’ someone is making. The pith of the message is obscured, and therefore can’t be easily echoed back by others. Retweets, comments and likes on a Twitter scream only offer connection at a literal level, and fail to engage with deeper existential loneliness.
#FlogstaScream channels the impulse to scream in a safer and more effective way. As a geographically distributed group, we scream online together at agreed times in a private forum. Through voice-notes, text, gifs, swear words and the full gamut of online creativity, we have a big fat scream, vent our frustration, enjoy the silliness of human impotence and let fly with whole “AAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!” of it all. We don’t get into full-on rants (these are saved for Rant Club) – but we might scream a word or two, like when people shout “BOLLOCKS!!!” or “ALAN!!!” at Glastonbury. Through the shared experience of online screaming, we seek catharsis and comradery.
Sometimes, you need to have more than a scream – you need to have a rant. This isn’t about fun and games: Rant Club is serious about ranting and raving.
Rant Club offers a boundaried space for no-holds-barred explosions of rage, anger, blame, loathing and finger-pointing. In this context it is fine to express contempt, scorn, aggression and disgust; and to direct this towards the big wide world, towards groups and/or towards individuals. Ranting undoubtedly carries risks. The premise of Rant Club is that the risks of ranting should be balanced against the risks of carrying these combustible emotions internally – and also that the risks can be mitigated and managed.
1) What happens in Rant Club stays in Rant Club, and is never repeated elsewhere.
2) Verbal attacks on those who are not part of Rant Club are allowed, but attacks on members of Rant Club are disallowed.
3) When a person is ranting, the role of other audience members is to facilitate the fullest expression of the rant. It is not their role to determine whether or not the rant is legitimate.
4) Rants are to be taken seriously but not always literally. We approach them with a symbollic, as well as a pragmatic attitude.
5) Individual members are responsible for IRL. It is for individuals to determine whether any action should be taken regarding the subject of their ranting, or whether simply exploding about the issue in the context of Rant Club is ‘enough’.
Rant Club sessions are by appointment. First, the ranter and the audience agree that it is time for a rant. Then, the ranter does their ranting, and the audience responds. Afterwards, there is a ‘how was this for you?’ debrief. Here, the ranter is supported as they discern which bits of their ranting carry truth that they want to carry forward, and which bits are toxic waste that they wish to burn away to ash.
By providing a private, boundaried and confidential space for ranting and raving, Rant Club offers a container within which feelings of anger, rage and powerlessness can be appropriately expressed with minimal risk. This enables members to get the toxic elements of these feelings ‘out of their system’; see the issues in a clearer light; and have a sharper sense of what, if anything, they want to do about them.
Due to safeguarding and the complex dynamics involved, membership of Angry Choir, #FlogstaOnline and Rant Club is by invitation only.