In the Summer of 2018, I saw the power of storytelling first-hand when a teenager in one of my youth theatres shared that their best friend had died. They carried on attending sessions and I watched them find the confidence to share their story. Surrounded by the empathy and sensitivity of their peers – I saw how the telling of stories can bring us together and help us process the most difficult moments in our lives. How when they were struggling to find support elsewhere in their life, they found it in the theatre.
I’d already been thinking about founding a company. I had been working with children and young people for a decade, as well as directing and writing shows for other companies. I knew that I wanted to create my own work, but also that I owed it to the communities and young people I worked with that I try to support them.
Brave Words was formed as a not-for-profit Community Interest Company in November 2018. Since then, we have dedicated ourselves to telling inspiring stories and asking what we can learn from them. We create adventures in the arts that support the children, young people and communities around us, including our ever-growing programme of pay-what-you-can youth theatres across the city and our schools programme. We hope to create accessible and aspirational stages where people can come together and connect, as well as arts projects helping people find their confidence and creativity. We continue to believe that every story has value, and everyone should have the chance to share theirs.
We are currently touring (Nov 2021 – Jan 2022) “How to Be a Better Human” – a spoken word comedy show about grief, loss and self-acceptance – a show in which I tell my personal story of losing my dad and my marriage within the space of a few months. It finds the humour in death and divorce and aims to open conversations with audiences about the stigma attached to talking about grief and mental health. I continue to be inspired by that very first youth theatre member in every story I tell, and as a company we are dedicated to helping everyone realise the power of their stories.