Last year I fell in love with The Brave (you can read my review here). A devised piece of work from Massive Company (directed by Sam Scott and Carla Martell) that explores what it means to be a young man, to be brave. On Friday I got to see it again at Mangere Arts Centre, revamped a little and ready to go on tour.
The Brave isn’t a nice and tidy play in the usual sense. It explores a concept intimately from the mouths of eight very talented young men – Scott Cotter, Todd Emerson, Jonny Moffat, Neil Amituanai, Dominic Ona-Ariki, Leki Jackson Bourke, Beulah Koale and Andy Sani.
The concept obviously is bravery but it’s not the sort of bravery that makes you run into a fight or attack a dragon. It’s the bravery to be yourself, to be honest and comfortable in your own skin, to reveal your fears, your loves, your dreams. It’s deep, challenging.
Reading so far you’d be forgiven for thinking that this play might be a total cringe fest. Yes, deep and meaningfuls abound but it’s also one of the most physical pieces of work I’ve ever seen. The physicality makes it work, keeps it real so to speak. Running, jumping, dancing the boys can be seen having fun on stage as well as pouring out their souls.
The design allows space for this to occur. There’s no set at all, just a blank stage, a cyc and the actors bodies who do well to fill the space entirely. Jane Hakaraia’s lighting design adds shape and emotion, that lion king sunrise as prominent as ever. This time round the actors even found their light 99% of the time. The sound completes things, allowing levity within the intensity. (Ya dig?)
It’s fascinating to watch a year on. Things have changed, the actors have grown and this is reflected in the work. Last year they were brave, this year they are even more so. Moments which were a little too much last time have been refined and perfected. As a second time audience member it’s something that makes you proud but also something that makes you honored to be part of. It’s inspirational.
The Brave is set to go on tour and I can’t help but be incredibly excited for them to share this play with the rest of the country. It’s an important show in that it explores and inspires while leaving up so much space for you to think it through for your own experiences. Todd Emerson dares young people, particularly his young gay braves to grow old and while this statement relates to the hardships of being a young man coming out it extends to hard times for anyone. Similarly Beulah Koale talks about the importance of asking for help, not letting things bottle up. It’s not preachy at all, it’s their own experiences, their innermost thoughts revealed.
From Mangere they head to Albany this week, followed by New Plymouth, Hamilton, Hawkes Bay and Tauranga.
Go to this show, take any young people you can grab and get ready to laugh and love. Tour information can be found here.