Not Just Brave: Stutterpop Revamped

Playwright and stutterer Sam Brooks' one-man show Stutterpop debuted earlier this year in the Auckland Fringe to great reviews and had many people telling Sam just how brave it was. 

Next week Stutterpop comes to Q Theatre's Vault with guest actors Taofia Pelesasa, Nisha Madhan, Geordie Holibar, Alice Canton and Eli Matthewson, and dancers Louisa Hutchinson, Dion Greenstreet, and Joe Nathan.

It's strange that in less than a year it is making a return to the stage given that, in Sam's own words, it wasn't a show he wanted to put on again. So why then has it returned and is it even the same show?

Sam shares...

“That’s so brave.”

That’s the main comment I got about the last season of Stutterpop. I always found that weird, and by the end of a fairly short season where I had physically and emotionally exhausted myself to the point of delirium, it became a genuinely frustrating comment.

I subscribe to the viewpoint that there are brave people in the world. Obviously. Those people are firemen, people who go down into mines and even people who practice skydiving for a living. I don’t consider myself a brave person for talking onstage about my stutter, and even less so for stuttering onstage for an hour and half in front of a crowd of people for four nights. I don’t even consider myself a brave person outside of that.

It was less a play and more a piece of performance art. I’m happy I did it – I’m sure there’s a lot for an audience to get out of seeing someone stutter in front of them for an hour and a half with no chance of escape. But it wasn’t the show I wanted to put on again. As an artist, I wouldn’t get anything out of doing that show again.

The new Stutterpop, revamped with new stories and new songs, will probably still be called brave. But it’s not the point. In June, I reworked it with some brilliant theatre artists and worked out a way to turn it into a piece of theatre. Now it’s not just brave, it’s about something.

I wish I could tell you the specifics of what I did, but we live in a spoiler-averse culture. The role of the guest actor became key to the piece, and I’m very excited to play with the five actors I’ve got lined up to perform in the show next week. They’re integral to the piece and every show will be completely different because of them.

Stutterpop isn’t just about me now. It’s about translating an experience that is almost impossible to translate, the experience of having and living with a stutter, through the only medium I can really use to do it: theatre.

It’s a lot of fun.

There are pop songs. There is lip-syncing. And there are Anna Paquin impressions.

It might even be a little bit brave.

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