The Scarlet Tongue Project is a documentary film and artist collective,
exploring the taboo of anger through artistic collaboration and cultural exchange.
Director/Producer: Samantha Bryan
Cinematography/Editing: Samantha Bryan, Beren Jones, Infinity Jam Sessions
Featured Artists: Saraswathi Jones, Aepril Schaile, Anna Vo, Makiko Suda, Creature Karin Webb,
Cassandre Charles, Katia Tirado, Throb Zombie
Featured in pilot episode: Castrator, Laina Dawes, Karla McLaren, Militia Vox, Lilith
Beest, The Folks Below
Scarlet Tongue Logo Design: Throb Zombie
Though it is a core element of human experience, anger remains one of the
most criticized and taboo emotions for women, femmes, and non-binary people. The Scarlet Tongue project seeks to destabilize the status quo by redistributing the social capital of access to anger. This project lies at a particular crossroad of exposition and identity, where each artist meets us and shares what drives them to make change in their communities.
Or, to put it more plainly:
We're pissed off right now. We were pissed yesterday, last year, hundreds of years ago and surely hundreds of years from now if the planet doesn't swallow us up. Why does this continue to be relevant? Showing anger as a woman or AFAB person is often dismissed at best, and dangerous for many. This project highlights stories from artists who are using their platforms to bravely express the darker side of existing within that unidentifiable class of "woman" to their public, inspiring change in themselves and others.
Our methods are raw like anger itself: we're DIY centered, Dr. Martens boots on the ground, curious, ever-evolving, ever-moving. We believe that a healthy relationship with anger creates space for infinite joy, and it's our mission to infuse our understanding of this powerful emotion with love.
The Molten Core: In 2015, Director Samantha Bryan found herself distressed over her own complicated relationship with anger, frequently moving between outbursts of rage or being completely passive and shut down. There was a seemingly blurred line between her villainess casting in theater and the precariousness of her personal life. In her quests for peace and understanding, the most common advice she found was that anger was bad and to avoid it. Not convinced by the live laugh love method, Sam sought out folks who were asking similar questions of themselves and the world around them. She sat down with several field specialists and authors to deepen her understanding about the short and long-term implications of suppressed or compulsive anger for women. She became insatiably curious about how experiences of anger and how it's policed vary based on age, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, etc. She was also intrigued by various studies showing that repressed or compulsive anger can have harmful impacts on both our mental and physical health.
While eyeballs-deep in research, Sam began seeking artists from diverse backgrounds and geolocations to share their stories of the how's and why's of what they do. She wanted to better understand each artist’s on and off stage process for channeling their anger into art, in turn creating a larger social conversation.
Each artist brought with them important global perspectives, representing stories and culture from The United States, Haiti, Ireland, Japan, Australia, India, and Mexico.
Over time, many of the women in Sam's social and professional circles began identifying more deeply with their queerness, and some came out as non-binary. A more nuanced conversation began emerging: how the misogyny they faced as a result of society's projection onto their bodies was not gone, and being a "woman" was still an ongoing discussion and source of personal and political unrest.
Rather than narrowing down what a woman "is" (see: impossible) to make a streamlined point for presentation, Sam felt strongly that it was important to embrace these varied experiences and evolve the project into a more inclusive one.
The Scarlet Tongue Project welcomes artists who identify as women in all of its vast forms. We also welcome artists with plural and non-genders whose work incorporates themes of how the designation of "woman" impacts their lives.
Further Reading on the impacts of suppressed anger:
Better Health: Anger-- How it Affects People
2013 Study by Harvard School of Public Health and The University of Rochester: Emotional Repression and Mortality Risk Over a 12-year Follow-up
Rose Hays: How Pent Up Anger Can Shorten Your Life
Healthline: How to Deal With Pent Up Anger
Beyond Film: In the fall of 2018, cast members from the film came together to see if we
could “walk our talk” in the form of a collective. Those of us available traveled to Mexico
for a two-week arts residency which included two public performances. There we
expanded our community even further through collaboration with local artists, venues,
community organizers, producers, audiences, and our actions. This has offered new
friendships, networking, and a rich cultural exchange.
During the residency many of our artists met for the first time. We lived, worked,
collaborated, created, and performed together. We filmed discussions about what makes
us angry, explored deep personal and cultural wounds with an emphasis on
accountability and personal responsibility, and we supported one another during
challenging moments. We also dedicated time to envisioning how to
present our material to the public in ways that will inspire others to do this work for
themselves within their own communities.
A priority for us is digging into how “being angry” and “being a woman” can
take infinite forms, and harnessing agency via how we choose to express
The result of this experiment was incredibly potent. Deep bonds were formed, new
collaborative works were created, and personal breakthroughs about anger and trauma
Our team decided that we want our work to extend beyond the film, using this media creation as an educational tool within a larger movement.
Honoring the relationship between artist and audience, and artists with one another, we bring workshops, live performance, film, and visual art to communities around the world. Our vision is one of cultural exchange where age, gender, ethnicity, philosophy and inspiration join together to explore and harness the revolution of free expression.
The Scarlet Tongue Project utilizes the languages of sound (spoken word, music), body (dance, performance art), and light (film, multimedia performance) to tell our stories.
Update February 2023: Still cooking.
The Scarlet Tongue Project began in 2015, under the Obama administration. Since then, we have lived through Trump and now Biden, a global pandemic, #BlackLivesMatter protests around George Floyd's murder, devastating impacts of climate change, FOSTA/SESTA and its impact on the most vulnerable sex workers, war, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, a dangerous rise in alt-right terrorist groups and fascism, devastating lack of gun control, Brexit, inflation, rise in housing displacement, lack of access to healthcare, Iranian women protesting in the wake of Mahsa Amini's murder by Iran's "morality police", the fentanyl crisis, Andrew Tate and the rise in incel empowerment, increased suicide rates in teens as a result of social media usage and online bullying...
The list doesn't stop.
This project does not want to be wrapped up neatly. The people involved in the project have changed and grown. There are new stories to tell, new discussions, new projects, and a new generation of young adults making angry art that is so, so cool.
As the creator, I had to walk away for a while. Becoming intimately involved in such a volatile, loaded topic is not for the feint of heart, and when you play with fire you are bound to get burned. But in my quietness and listlessness, I let myself get curious again. I started listening to modern punk bands like Destroy Boys, and genre-bending rap punks like Rico Nasty. It wasn't until I went to a Jessie Reyez concert recently with one of my besties that I realized how much more normalized being fed up is with gen z is compared to my elder millennial corner of the world. As my friend pointed out, lyrical themes have notably shifted from "please don't go" to "I'm too good for you", with the whole crowd roaring these empowerment messages back to the artist. This moment greased my mental gears, and I knew it was time to power up The Scarlet Tongue machine once again so I could learn more.
So here we are. I'm looking at you, Gen Z. Bring me your art and your stories! Teach me what I should know about you!
I am currently in the process of reaching out to a new batch of artists (from a range of places and ages) to interview this year. Maybe that will round this experience out and the film will be released? Maybe I pick the project up every 7 years and then release it when I'm 80? Time will tell. Just like any living thing, the story will be ready when she's ready. I hope you still come along for the ride.
"It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences." Audre Lorde
It is the intention of The Scarlet Tongue Project to continue growing and building our work by traveling both within the United States and internationally to host art residencies, workshops, and immersive multimedia theater experiences. Our mission is to specifically explore intersectional feminism, womxn’s relationships with anger, and how to integrate this energy with creativity to fuel action and healing.
Our general project approach, whether in class or attending an event, is emphasizing the importance of showing up, participating, and playing an active role in your experience. This kind of permission encourages one to take an exploratory approach to life—both in their internal and external landscapes. When we choose to be active in our lives, we are choosing consciousness over the conditioning to consume and be consumed. We prefer this format for our public presentation because we are a diverse group of artists with varying skills and strengths, and feel that an audience has the potential to feel greater impact when they are actively engaging in their environment, taking the initiative to have an experience, and consensually taking risks to connect in new ways.
Through the collective’s actions and the transparency of our creative processes, we demonstrate healthy ways to have hard conversations, listen, be vulnerable, hold ourselves accountable, and offer resources. We want to demonstrate that disagreement can be powerful and strengthening, and how to find tools to discern between discomfort and toxicity. In an increasingly global society, we want to show that respectful cultural exchange is possible, and that with this mindfulness we can help to prevent further appropriation. We wish for womxn around the world to see their faces and hear their stories in our work, ultimately inspiring a ripple effect of positive change.
When we give voice to our anger and release it, our minds and bodies are freed up to be present in our relationships and dream bigger about our lives. As facilitators of this work, the artists of the Scarlet Tongue strive to build an army of revolutionaries and innovators through this exploration of freedom in a full range of expression.