Hannah Lash, Composer
235 West 102 Street, Apartment 3F
New York, NY 10025
June 8, 2010
This past Sunday my laptop was stolen. I was staying at a friend’s house in Buffalo, NY while I attended the June in Buffalo festival for new music. It was the last day of the festival, and I had gathered all my things together and was loading up my car. After I got everything in my car, I realized I’d forgotten to leave the thank you card and gift inside along with the house-key for my hostess. So I got out of my car, locked it, and ran inside. I was gone for less than two minutes. When I came back, my car window had been smashed and my GPS and my laptop bag with MacBook pro, wallet, and iPod—none of them insured—had been stolen.
There were no witnesses, nothing to track the thief. I called 911 and reported the crime. The officer who showed up minutes after I called was surly and unhelpful, refusing to file a claim without my ID, which of course had just been taken along with my wallet.
I was shaken, to say the least. About 10 years of work was stored on my computer—literally hundreds of documents, musical compositions, photographs, and all the files for my website; very little had been backed up to an external source. Suddenly it was gone—so much of my music, my life: vaporized. I worried also about personal information stored on my computer. Passwords for email accounts could be changed, credit cards could be cancelled and banks alerted. But my diary was typed into a word document and tucked somewhere inside of my “documents” folder on my desktop. I felt totally vulnerable, violated.
That night, I lay awake in my bed unable to sleep despite the fact that I was exhausted from the past week’s busy festival schedule. My brain burned with anger. How could someone take another person’s property? Why me? What had I ever done? I found myself imagining what the criminal might be like; from there it was almost inevitable for my mind to drift towards what I would do to this person if I could.
At about 3 am, something hit me that was far more terrifying than having my laptop stolen. I realized that I was beginning to be consumed by anger, revenge, fear, mistrust. My thoughts came to a screeching halt as I realized that these are the very feelings that motivate a person to commit a theft or any crime to begin with: the sense of being wronged by circumstance, society, a person or group of people.
This is why I began thinking about creating a piece that would blur boundaries between perpetrator and victim. I wanted to emit a scream for everyone who has ever felt wronged; to empathize, de-objectify—to grieve.
Please read my proposal for the commission of a new piece “Violations.” If you feel you can make a contribution of any size towards its realization, please do so by sending a check made out to Hannah Lash, with “The Loading Dock Project” written on the memo line. Please include your email address and contact information so that I can keep you apprised of the piece’s progress, and let you know about its premiere date and location.
235 West 102 Street
New York, NY 10025
The Loading Dock Project
Hannah Lash, Composer
VIOLATIONS is a piece that will be performed in any inner-city area, using a loading dock as a stage. It will be scored for singer, percussion, and live electronics. The text for this 45-50 minute piece will be a non-linear compilation of personal stories—stories from people who have committed crime and stories from people who have been the victims of crime.
As the piece progresses, these stories mingle and deepen. There is anger on both sides. Basic human rights have been violated. Revenge and fear become motivators. All are victims, making victims of one another.
The musical texture thickens; words are layered upon words and sounds upon sounds in waves of increasing strength. Images are projected onto the wall of the loading dock: images that range from gritty news-footage of inner-city crimes, to projections of any type of file stored on a laptop representing some important part of a person’s life. Personal photographs, evidence— lost things.
Harmonic, melodic, and contrapuntal material will reach a point of screaming intensity— perspectives collide, stories are elided and melodies are brutally slashed. When no more sound or layering of sound seems possible, everything stops except the electronics, suddenly calm: an otherworldly lullaby, seeking solace, looking within.
Performing the piece on a loading dock holds significance because the shape of a loading dock parodies a stage. But its industrial capacity, and the fact that it is in the back of a building where danger potentially lurks and where anyone can go, throws the idea of a stage deeply askew.
The commission for this piece will be gathered from many small personal donations— sometimes of no more than $5 each. Fundraising will be done in an entirely grass-roots spirit, via Facebook, word of mouth, newspaper announcements, etc. Money will be put directly toward the creation of the piece, and the acquisition of its necessary components: a laptop, sound-system, and costs of performance and travel.
The process of putting together the text will involve interviewing people and gathering their stories. These stories will come from many, many people—from those in prisons, to those in shelters, to those in offices and apartments and houses. Nothing is inviolate: no one is blameless.
Performances of the piece will be entirely free and open to the public; all that is needed is a loading dock in the back of an inner-city building and an area around this loading dock large enough to allow the public to gather.