I didn’t really know what to expect when I headed off to the Bristol Old Vic on Tuesday night to watch BRAVE, an ambitious collaboration between The Young Company and volunteer professional actors. Having worked with Tid, I know his style well, but I wasn’t sure what form the play would find on its journey to the stage. What I witnessed broke my heart and made me choke on my drink with hysterical laughter in equal measure.
BRAVE began its journey back in December when the group began to rehearse, sharing their stories and memories. Throughout the process they collected additional inspiration from outside sources to add to their melting pot of creativity. As you enter the theatre you will see a huge book containing thousands of these collated visual and written memories followed by a wall bearing even more; clearly a plethora of stimuli for the actors. Under the skill and guidance of directors Tid (Ian Tidbury) and Miranda Cromwell, they worked on devising and eventually scripting pieces. You can see the rehearsal process in action on their Facebook Group page and on YouTube. Below are a couple of their YouTube videos:
It’s hard to talk about the production without giving it all away, as part of the magic resides in not quite knowing where you will be taken next!
Some of my favourite moments include ‘Kiss Chase’ and ‘Who wants to be a parent?’, but my favourite line belongs to the grandmother in one of the ‘knitted jumper’ scenes – most of us have been subjected to hideous knitted creations, hailing from elderly relatives, forced to wear them in public whenever said relation is present. Most of us have also experienced the itchiness and rash caused by the dreaded article, but the grandmother in BRAVE has an explanation for this, apparently it’s “a sign of quality wool”.
The scene that made me choke on my drink shall remain undefined. It was a scene of two halves and this particular half created a division of response within the audience as some of us rolled in the aisles and others were outraged we were not watching the other half of the scene. Being asked “will you be quiet?!” by an angry woman in an incredibly teacher-like fashion only served to transport us further into our memories and feelings of being ‘naughty little children’. Although hysterical laughter was probably not what was initially intended by the imagery, this was the first night the production had been viewed by an outside audience and our response was based on our connection to the piece, the memories it stirred and the actors within the piece. It was therefore equally as valid as the response from those who did not laugh, because they connected to what was happening elsewhere in the scene.
BRAVE is on until Sunday 26th April 2009.
Young Company Blog
Suit Yourself Magazine Review
Toby Farrow (Photographer) Website