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Tell me when you get home - Alicia Jane Turner

Content warning: descriptions of sexual violence, harassment and misogyny.

“This is the most vulnerable piece I’ve ever written, that is deeply personal for me as a survivor. It’s a piece that is difficult, that is complex, challenging and often chaotic, which I wrote to reflect my experiences of the difficulty, complexity, challenge and chaos of processing trauma and how this manifests in my everyday life. It felt particularly important to write in the operatic form, a form in which there is rampant misogyny and violence against women in its canon written by men, that doesn’t centre the voices of survivors or address the complex trauma of violence. I wrote the libretto in 2020, and it was something I’d felt compelled to write for many years, that had been brewing in a place of deep outrage and anger; anger at the systems that allow sexual violence and abuse to prevail that so urgently need to be addressed, at victim blaming, at shaming and silencing survivors, at how rights for bodily autonomy for trans, non-binary people and women are eroding, at years of feeling at threat walking home alone at night, years of being shouted at on the street and followed home by men, at how the responsibility for our safety is somehow put on us, at years of feeling I had to be quiet when all I wanted to do was scream out. I realised how much I had internalised this deep into my body, and I wrote this piece to scream out, to channel this chaos of feeling into a space of release, catharsis, and ultimately, hope and healing.

The first half stares directly and unflinchingly into the darkness, moving through advice given for safety and street harassment, into fear felt walking home alone at night, violence, and processing trauma. The second half then moves out of the darkness, finding light through releasing anger and rage in a cathartic burst, turning the fear I’ve felt walking home alone at night being followed, into the fear I believe is at the root of patriarchy - its collapse through our power to resist, enact change and burn it down to the ground.

In this piece, the voice at the centre shows how they can never be destroyed, that collectively we contain the power to destroy misogyny and collapse violent patriarchal structures. I believe our outrage, our anger is productive. Together we have so much power to create change.

I am indebted to the incredible team formed entirely of non-binary, trans people, and women for their work on this piece and for their support throughout - not least the remarkable Ella Taylor and Sian Edwards. They inspire me deeply, and I am so grateful to them and the London Sinfonietta for bringing this piece to life.”
Alicia Jane Turner, composer

Tell me when you get home was commissioned by London Sinfonietta as part of its Writing the Future scheme. The film was recorded at the Southbank Centre on 6 February 2022 and features the London Sinfonietta alongside soprano Ella Taylor and conductor Sian Edwards.

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Published: 24 Oct 2022