Hear Me Howl is a new theatre piece, written by Lydia Rynne. It is a play about a quarter life identity crisis, and all the rage (and sound!) that comes with it. Here, Lydia writes exclusively for The Quarter Club about Art and Anger…
In the current political and environmental climate anger is bubbling beneath everything and everyone. So how do artists respond to or channel that? Far from being inward-looking, or simply reflecting the world we’re in, art can – and should – be reaching for a better future. And anger can help that happen.
So, as a playwright, I write about stuff I’m angry about. And in a matter of days, some of that anger is going to be unleashed, out loud, in the form of Hear Me Howl at the Old Red Lion Theatre, London.
I wrote this play because I’m angry about the limiting societal expectations placed on women. Despite the fact that the number of women choosing to remain childfree is rising year on year, it still raises eyebrows. There is still a pressure on women once they’ve reached a certain age to “settle down”, to “nest”’, get married and get a mortgage: expectations that the protagonist of HMH, Jess, has put up with throughout her twenties but now refuses to respond to with simply polite patience.
This comes at an exciting age of women now speaking up, women refusing to be silenced by harassment, sexism, prejudice, and traditional gender stereotypes that have gone on for years. And, as Jo Brand called out Hislop & co on Have I Got News For You ‘it builds up and it wears you down’. The patriarchy would have it that women would quite simply not feel anger. Or if they did, they should just swallow it. Note how Serena Williams’ recent challenge of the umpire was met with horror and penalties, as opposed to being a symbol of outspoken leadership. This tidal wave of female rage (#MeToo and #TimesUp) that is sweeping across the planet, crashing through the dusty outdated corridors of one industry at a time, thrills me and buoys me up to keep fighting – and to keep writing.
We have to do something with this anger, this female rage, – use it as fuel to change the rules; use our voices and our platforms, however small, to make change. That’s why punk – the ideologies, the music – runs through Hear Me Howl – because the essence of punk is about actively pushing against social norms and doing so unashamedly, with noise.
Hear Me Howl is a play about a woman who is ‘rebirthed’ when she repudiates convention, joins a post-punk band, and becomes politically engaged for the first time. Jess’ eyes are opened to not only her power as a woman, but also her environmental impact on a planet that is in crisis. With a series of post-show events from a female-led punk gig, to an abortion rights talk and a climate change film screening, we have engaged with a line-up of incredible women who are active with their rage, whatever that rage might be.
I asked the team, what does ‘punk’ mean to you? The answers to which I found so inspiring I’ve printed them off and stuck them on my fridge to remind me every day. Here is the nifty list – I hope it ignites the same little bonfire of courage in you too.
Imagination over rules
Challenging the status quo
Being loud, unapologetic, personal and political
Being like Vivienne Westwood and telling people that even though she has been brought to an event to discuss fashion she will actually just talk about climate change.
Not giving a toss about what society expects of you
Fighting to protect nature
Smashing the patriarchy
Screaming and sweat
Going against society’s norms
Pushing the boundaries of acceptable behaviour and having the bravery to step out of predefined roles
Sticking your finger up at society in order to help society evolve
Self-expression over convention
Pushing for a better future
Doing what you know is right even if it runs the risk of social rejection
An expression of defiance
And, just for fun, here’s the music we are howling to at the moment, from the punk to the.. Erm… not so punk…
The Chain and Gypsy by Fleetwood Mac
Rebel Girl by Bikini Kill
X-Ray Spex, The Slits
You Can Call Me Al by Simon and Garfunkel
Ain’t No Doubt by Jimmy Nail
Demilitarise by Henge
Through the Long Night by Billy Joel
HEAR ME HOWL is playing from 18th – 29th September at the Old Red Lion Theatre at 7.30pm, with a preview matinee on Wednesday 19th at 2.30pm, and with Saturday matinees at 3pm.
For more details and to book tickets, click here:
What makes you howl with anger? Or with freedom?! We’d love to know. Tweet us at @Hear_Me_Howl #hearmehowl and who knows, you may find your track on our show’s playlist.