Published on February 24th, 2016 | by Francesca Baker0
Save The Male Showcase
Save The Male is a comedy, poetry and music showcase raising awareness of the male suicide prevention charity CALM. Campaign Against Living Miserably are a charity working endlessly to tackle the statistic that suicide is the biggest killer of young men in the UK.
The point is that suicide isn’t funny or entertaining, which makes it somewhat difficult to talk about. Particularly it seems for young men, and many feel unable to talk or seek support about this silent stigma. What Save The Male want to do is break down these barriers and encourage expression through bringing people together and creativity.
This night at London’s Vault Festival was a fantastic articulation of that aim, and a pretty successful execution of it. Compered by stand-up poet Jack Rooke and curated by Cecilia Knapp, (who I saw eloquently and tenderly speak about the loss of her brother at the previous weekend’s Creative Minds festival at the Southbank Centre) it was a fast paced and fun packed 75 minutes of entertainment that saw grins and laughter pretty much consistently and ubiquitously throughout the audience.
No mean feat at any show, albeit one focused on such a heavy theme. But this line up of expressive, charming and talented performers managed to transcend that difficult barrier to deliver a night of entertainment and engagement that beautifully articulated the importance of speaking out and connection.
First up was Laurie Bolger, a down to earth northern lass with a colloquial style of very identifiable stand up poetry, telling us all about her broken heart and how Valentine’s Day seems to kick it to pieces. A story about Munch Bunch follows from Daniel Piper. And it’s bloody hilarious. Confessing that he uses writing to toy with the identity crisis that is young adult life, he’s a testament to the way in which whimsical story telling can be a hugely reassuring experience.
Then we have Mr Gee, who is cool, bold, and honest. With a CV including SONY award nominated productions, Radio 2 and Russell Brand, his outstanding skill is making poignant issues hard hitting and connectable. And last up it’s some music. Urban folk from Gecko where he talks about the big things in life in a playful way. Think libraries, fruit juice, and why we can’t look up from our bloody phones to see the world.
All this is interspersed with humorous introductions (‘I’m no good at this’ says Cecila at one point – no, you are), pretend game shows, and party rings. It’s quite the laugh. I’m thrilled to learn that not only have Save The Male ‘blagged’ (earned, hard earned I think they mean) a residency at Soho Theatre later this year, their performers are also busy on the London circuit. Mr Gee runs poetry collective Chill Pill, Laurie Bolger often presents Bang Said The Gun and hosts her own show on Roundhouse Radio.
Suicide isn’t funny. CALM are not saying it is. What they are saying is that creativity, connection, laughter and play can all help make life that little bit more bearable, encourage people in despair to hang on a bit longer and speak out about their feelings. That real men have emotions, and can be honest about them. And that there is always help and with it hope.