If I asked your friends what they really thought of you what would they say? How about if I asked your enemies? Haven't you ever wondered what people say when our back is turned? We might not like to hear the answer but I think we would all secretly love to know what others think of us. There's a saying about a curious cat that I can relate to and in my debut solo show The Worst of Scottee I have done just that - asked past friends, ex lovers and old acquaintances what they really think of me. At 10 years old I was stealing money from my family, by my 14th birthday I'd been excluded from school after being arrested and by 18 years old I'd been sacked from my first job. My teenage years were more dramatic than any Eastenders character to date. Being a show off that enjoys a poke in the eye I've decided to turn this into material, initially because I was bored of artists presenting 'The Best of...' when really I wanted to see the worst of their attributes. Earlier this year I gave my production team a list of 10 people who I no longer have contact with, by the magic of Facebook they were able to track them down and make contact. They were told an artist was making a show about things they had done in the past and they were invited to talk on camera to a psychotherapist and guess who I might be. Once my identity was revealed they were asked to remember what I was like.
Ethically we've been really careful not cause emotional distress - everyone who was interviewed was offered time with our psychotherapist, a third party was used to contact the contributors and in some cases names have been changed or bleeped out.
Out of the 10 people we approached six declined to have anything to do with the project. In an attempt to rescue the project we revealed my identity to four of them who then never replied to our messages which really annoyed me. I feel annoyed these people are happy to remember me for being a [insert genitalia insult here], one even contacted me directly to say they wish to have nothing to do with the project. Unlike me some people don't want to be confronted by their past especially if it's a difficult one, this is something I've had to learn to respect during this process. From the three who did agree to be filmed we were able to find out things I've done to other humans - from suicide to AIDS and everything in between. I remember playing this back to the production team for the first time - it seemed like the dynamic in the room shifted a little as everyone was confronted with the effects of a lie I told aged 16. At the start of this process I think I was proud of how turbulent my teenage years were - they were testament to my working class, council estate upbringing of which I'm proud of but listening to how my behaviour effected peoples lives (and extended family in some cases) it made me create a new relationship with them and possibly even induce guilt. The stories in my show might sound extraordinary but I think if we were all to take part in this social experiment we would all dig up a similar past - OK so not everyone has pretended to have AIDS but we've all messed up and our actions have effected others for the worst but isn't it human to make mistakes? We live in an age where tabloids will do anything to dig up our past and with this try to inflict shame on us. I think we should all take ownership of our s**tness because it's only then can we learn from it. Do I regret my actions? As the famous song goes Non Je Ne Regrette Rien but that could be yet another lie. The Worst of Scottee opens at Edinburgh Festival Fringe on 1 August