Most teenage diaries are excruciating, but Cora Bissett’s infinitely detailed journals retrieved from her late dad’s attic, form the basis of her highly personal and uplifting work, What Girls Are Made Of.
An ad in the Fife Free Press “Band seeks singer” changes the 17 year old girl from Glenrothes life forever. However, the journey from the cover of music magazines, opening for Blur and Radiohead to ultimate downfall is short, swift and brutal.
For a young, attractive woman in a band in the 1990s, what Bissett went through is depressingly familiar: manipulation into unwanted sexualisation, exploitation of a group of naïve small town kids, financial abuse from a manager later found out to be a sex offender to the tune of £40000 and one disastrous review from the NME that sent everything into a downward spiral.
Bissett deftly chronicles the mercurial rise and demise of the band, her own steps into a solo career, to, well, hell and back. In the words of Bissett’s own mother: “when you’re going through hell, just keep going”, and she does. She busks in the London underground; retrains as an actress; dies many a death on legendary Scottish TV show Taggart; stars in a dog food commercial, finally finding her feet as a writer and producer of her own work.
There’s as much tenderness as toughness here. Bissett manages to pull on the heart strings with her touching representation of her family and the heartache of longing to be a mother. There’s humour, pathos and inspiration to be had.
An uplifting tale of never giving up.
Runs until 27 August 2023