Actresses Lisa Hammond (Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights, Max & Paddy’s Road to Nowhere) and Rachael Spence (Theatre of Blood, and The House of Bernarda Alba, both at the National Theatre in London) wanted to create a show together, but they had no idea what it was going to be about. So rather than sit down in silence with a pen and paper, they launched themselves on to the street, armed only with a tape recorder and approached members of the public to ask them what they thought the story should be. Both said what they heard and recorded was funny, heartfelt, sometimes staggering but always very, very revealing.
Working with the interviews and stories they received from the public, Hammond and Spence teamed up with Lee Simpson, co-artistic director of Improbable, to create their own show, No Idea. Hammond and Spence recreate these encounters and attempt to stage the play they’ve been given by the public. They have said it is a piece about human nature and also people’s attitudes and preconceptions towards disability.
Hammond said: “When someone sees me, what do they see? What assumptions do they make about my character and my capabilities? What do I, in turn, imagine they are seeing when they see me? If I - at least in part - shape my behaviour in response to how I imagine I am perceived, am I an outer expression of my inner self or just a collection of responses to other people's responses to me? And do those perceptions and perceived perceptions bounce back and forth into infinity.”
No Idea is described by its producers as a “story of a friendship, creating a sense of companionship and gentle humour found in the comedy partnerships of Morecambe and Wise or comedians on an unusual quest like Dave Gorman” and “heart-warming at the same time as being very, very funny”.
No Idea has been shown as a work-in-progress production at the Lyric Hammersmith, as a Lyric First performance, and also at the Decibel Performing Arts Showcase in Manchester.
The production is the first in a number of events at Liverpool’s Unity Theatre, leading up to DaDaFest International 2010.
Garry Robson, artistic director of DaDaFest International 2010, said: ‘Bi-annually DaDa-Disability & Deaf Arts produce an International Festival showcasing the best of Deaf and Disability Arts worldwide. The main festival this year will run from the 18 November until the 3 December. As a lead in to this DaDaFest will be collaborating with local organisations to produce a series of one off taster events. DaDaFest is pleased to be working with Unity as part of this programme.”
No Idea appears at the Manchester Royal Exchange from tonight until 17 April, and at the Unity Theatre in Liverpool on 22-23 April, as part of a UK tour.