Saturday, 17 August 2013

Edinburgh Fringe - What I want to say, but never will

Don't speak your mind, there may be consequences.  Keep your opinions to yourself, they are not valid anyway.  I am scared to say it, what if they reject me?  

Sex, pregnancy, coming out as Gay, child abuse, family, divorce, anger, hatred, love, self harm, depression, drugs and alcohol, anorexia, religion, cancer and death.  All Emotions and experiences building barriers between us.   

These are also some of the subjects sometimes found to be taboo.  To put it simply, we find it difficult to talk about them - finding tape put over our mouths. 

What I want to say, but never will, performed by the St. Ives Youth Theatre, is a collection of thoughts, emotions and experience compiled by Alan, an English teacher, of the things that young people in America really want to say and why they feel that they can't.

The thought that our young people feel unable to talk about what is on their mind, or that perhaps we as a Society are not prepared to listen is truly disturbing.  However, this show opens a window into their world and the constraining influences preventing - whether directly or not - the burst for self expression.  

Alan acts as the adult narrator, seeking to encourage each of the young people to come forward and tell their story.  He makes it clear that the show is not about him; which is why his character is taken on by a beautiful teenage girl - contrasted by the middle-aged, balding fat man - that we may expect.

One by one, the cast - all young people - dressed in theatrical black - reveal themselves.  However,  anyone can tell a story, what makes their tales unique is the controlling - even constraining - tape over their mouth.  The tape bears individual words and each word has meaning - bearing that back story - of the tale never told.

When the tape is peeled away, the young people speak; shout; cry and move all in dialogue with their fears.  We never see the reality.  We never know whether the cries are heard; real tears shed, gay children embraced or expelled; the pregnancy reaching child birth or the friendships continuing or ending.

This is the mystery of the performance.  It always leaves you wanting to ask a question and perhaps, you should.   

Of course, Alan admits that some of the stories, or things that young people want to say, lack context.  Some if it is just venting, frustration, hitting out or a need to release that built up angst.  The other stories are more important; abusive parents, self harming, not knowing what to do about an unexpected pregnancy or shouting, seeking and pleas for help.

Are we listening?  That is what Alan keeps reminding us.  Perhaps, more importantly, do we even want to listen?

Adults, whether a parent, guardian, priest or a friend are meant to be there to protect our children.  Who can our young people turn to if there is no one there to listen.

There are two sides to every story.  This is the subtle sometimes that Alan conveys too.  The adult figure may be willing to listen, but has the young person shut themselves off.  Perhaps, they do not understand their parents as much as they think?

This is what Alan advised me;

"What do you want to say but you know you never will?

To whom do you wish you could say it to?

Why won't you say it

This message is important.

Listen to me..."    
 Advice that you too, can take away.

A poignant performance, not best expressed in words alone.  See it and believe.

No five stars could do this show justice - it worth far more than that.

What I want to say, but never will is on at Sweet Venues, Grassmarket at 14.55.  The last performance is on Sunday 18th of August.  Tickets are available on-line from the Edinburgh Fringe box office, alternatively they can be purchased directly from the venue.    

For more information on the St. Ives Youth Theatre and the show itself, visit their website:

Twitter: @sity_sayit    

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