When I got a ticket for Bravado: a memoir of working class masculinity from 1991 to 1999 I had no idea what I was getting myself into -especially as the show was being held in the changing rooms at St. Helens RFC!
All I knew prior to attending was that the show was created by an artist called Scottee, it had an Oasis soundtrack and worryingly, an audience member had to volunteer to do the show! What the implications of that where I had no idea.
The changing room was equipped with several television sets, speakers, lighting and a solitary ominous looking microphone with no sign of the artist in sight!
Seating myself within what I can only describe as a changing room cubicle I anxiously waited for the show to commence with the other audience members. Suddenly a Big Brother style warning appeared on the television screens warning the audience that the show contained details of violence and sexual exploitation and people were free to leave if it all became a bit too much.
A facilitator of the show requested an audience member to volunteer which sent a course of adrenaline surging through my body and I avoided all eye contact in the hope I wouldn’t be asked to volunteer if nobody else stepped forward! Luckily a volunteer was found and stepped up to the microphone and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
I have no problem reading in public as I’ve previously done public speaking however I learnt from one of the other audience members that there was a karaoke element to the show-which would normally be right up my street given I grew up during the 90s and Oasis were my favourite band; but the idea of singing in a room full of strangers stone-cold sober in such a close-knit intimate environment did not appeal to me in the slightest.
The volunteer (whose name I subsequently learnt is Mel) proceeded to read the words of Scottee from the television monitor in front of the microphone and the show was essentially divided into three ‘acts’ with an Oasis song being played between each reading. Mel did a good job of singing each song which was no mean feat considering the first track had a running time of 7 minutes 30 seconds! Mel apologised in good humour to the audience for having to pay to listen to her sing and demanded a refund of her ticket which brought some light-hearted relief to the proceedings!
Whilst the memoir was being read some vintage 90s television footage was played on the screens which took me right back to my childhood with shows such as Robot Wars, Gladiators and Dad’s Army appearing; and the lyrics of the Oasis songs scrolled during the music segments in case any audience members dared to join in!
The memoir charted Scottee growing up during the 90s and his experiences with violence-both from his peers and Domestic Violence within the family home. Scottee describes in graphic detail his sexual exploitation from men and the subsequent emotions this generated within him-and the desire for revenge.
Bravado is the only show I have ever attended where the star of the show wasn’t actually present! I kept expecting Scottee to appear during the performance-certainly at the end, but he was nowhere to be seen. It can be argued that the real star of the show was Mel as the show could never have gone ahead without a volunteer stepping up and it was inspiring to see such courage in action and made me question my own fears and self-consciousness.
As Mel (@MellyBoomBoom_) stated on Twitter following the show:
“(Bravado) was the most moving and empowering thing I’ve ever done. It’s awesome Scottee”