Rachael Spence and Lisa Hammond spoke to BroadwayWorld about the forthcoming Still No Idea...
Has anyone ever asked you if you've got any ideas? When we first started making this show, we genuinely didn't have any. Which, looking back, is surprising for a couple of artists. But it was true.
We had spent years being actors in other people's plays, but no one had really ever asked us for our ideas before. Not really, REALLY asked. Or of they had, they usually a) didn't really listen to what we said or b) said they were rubbish, but then turned them into their own ideas two hours later. #actorslife eh?!
We got used to being vessels for other people's ideas. Speaking the words of playwrights and scriptwriters and making them sound like they belonged to us. Don't get us wrong - we absolutely LOVE doing this and think we do it very well!
But we didn't really know how to have an idea of our very own. Or, what to do with it even if we did.
So, being two determined chancers, who had so far managed to navigate our way into the privileged position of being artists despite the world telling us that it probably wasn't for the likes of us, we did what we always did: we cheated. We thought, well if WE haven't got any ideas, maybe we can steal other people's. And that's how it all began. We went out onto the street and asked people for their ideas, and we started to make a show out of them.
It was completely thrilling for us when we discovered that having no idea WAS an actual idea! A story was emerging from our long, vague and woolly process, which was revealing something entirely truthful about the world, and in particular about disability. We really wanted to tell this story that was uncovering itself. But when we tried to convince the theatrical gatekeepers to let us have no idea on their stages, people said things like "Wouldn't it be better if just HAD an idea?".
This made us stop and question WTF we were doing! Would it be better? Why wasn't this considered to be an idea? It was hard for us to understand why this "no idea" idea wasn't considered a very worthy idea.
After all, we'd seen so many shit ideas on TV, on stage and at the cinema. Even by really successful artists. Why were these ideas allowed to get that far, but we couldn't even get ours to a scratch night?
We finally convinced some pretty well-respected theatre people to let us make our show about having no ideas. And all through the process of making it, we had no idea if would be any good. We had no idea how it would end. We had no idea if anyone would come and see it - or if they did, if they would like it.
But we did make it and it did have an ending and people came to see it and they laughed at bits we didn't expect them to laugh at and it turned out to be a show we were really proud of and it went well. Phew.
After we made the show, people kept asking what we were going to do next? They kept saying, "Maybe next time you might have an idea!". Kind of joking, but also kind of not. So we thought a lot about it and we tried to have some proper ideas. Or tried to think of things that we thought might get someone to go "GOOD IDEA!"
But what we've realised is, we really do think ideas are cheap. Ten a penny. And we still don't have any ideas. But we do have each other. (Ahhhhh!) And given the right conditions, we will be able to create something. We have a lot to say.
We have stories to tell that are about us, our lives, and the things we experience every day. We have over 20 years each of performing experience. We have accidentally project managed our long arty careers, been on TV a lot and circumnavigated a lot of political activism around motherhood and disability. These things are our "ideas". We can't guarantee what will happen while we noodle them out. We can't guarantee you will like them when we do.
What we do know is this: put two 40-year-old women on stage together, that's an idea. Put a woman with three children and a woman in a wheelchair on stage together, that's an idea. Put a disabled woman and a mother on stage together, that's an idea. Put a working-class, cockney, wheelchair-using, 40-year-old woman and a low-income mother who's in an unstable housing loop in the city on stage together... You get the idea(s). Like we said, ideas - ten a penny. It's what you DO with them, actually DO. That's what counts.
So what should we do now? Come and see! Still No Idea is touring the UK this autumn to all the places we didn't get to yet, and we would love you to come and see it! Job done.
Still No Idea plays at Stantonbury Theatre on Tuesday 1 October.