Anna Ryder and Michael Spenceley are the co-directors of the award-winning solo show celebrating the joy of cycling and human endurance, Look, No Hands by Scottish actor and writer Lila Clements.
An uplifting story of hope and survival, Look, No Hands is inspired by a real-life cycling collision in 2010 experienced by the show’s writer and performer Lila Clements. Recipient of the 2021 National Partnership Award with Pleasance Theatre and Pitlochry Festival Theatre, this one-person play explores the female cycling experience and the phenomenon known as Post Traumatic Growth.
Directed by Anna Ryder, it has been made in partnership with Velociposse, a cycling club aimed at getting more women and non-binary people into cycling, with inspiration, support and knowledge.
Look, No Hands, directed by Anna Ryder and Michael Spenceley, is at the Red Lecture Theatre, Summerhall, 3 – 28 August 2022 at 4.30pm.
Look No Hands is at Edinburgh Fringe, what can you tell us about the show?
Anna: The play tells the true story of the bike crash of the show’s writer and performer Lila Clements. It’s about a near-death experience that gave Lila a new lease of life.
Michael: This show is important because it affects so many people on a global scale, not only is it based on truth but fundamentally it gives hope.
What was it about Lila Clements’ writing that made you want to be part of this production?
Anna: Lila’s writing is very personal, but in writing about a unique experience, she manages to capture something universal. Her writing is witty and moving, it felt like an important story reflecting on life after trauma, something that we are all collectively experiencing as a society now.
Michael: Lila’s story allows an audience to arrive at a place of understanding and connection. It is moving but funny, sad and hopeful.
It’s a very personal story, what’s most challenging about that for you as a director?
Anna: There is always a balance between the personal and the dramatically interesting in this type of work. It requires sensitivity to adapt auto-biographical stories to the stage. You can’t be too married to the specifics of the real-life events as not all of them may serve the story. However, as it’s a true story you want to make sure it is told in a way that takes care of the storyteller and their needs.
Michael: The hardest thing working on a production like this is theatricalising a traumatic true story, but at the heart of the production we find truth and beauty, while respecting the event, and most of all we are keeping in our minds what the main message of the play is.
It ran at the Pleasance London, what did you learn from that run?
Anna: I always think the biggest learning comes when you have an audience in the room. The Pleasance run gave us a chance to learn about the overall journey of the piece, it helped us to sharpen pacing and to see which moments connected with our audience the most.
Michael: It was an amazing realisation, that this story touched so many people in different ways. They may not have been in a bike accident or had a road collision, but it is a story of rebirth and hope has never been more needed.
What would you say to anyone thinking of booking to see Look No Hands?
Anna: It’s definitely a story that sticks with you after the lights have come up. Lila is a brilliant performer as well as a writer to keep your eye on.
Michael: It is a must see. I know I am biased but with everything going on in the world at the moment, it is a breath of fresh air.