Lila Clements is the writer and performer of the world premiere of Look, No Hands which will play at The Pleasance 10th to 14th August 2021.
An uplifting story of hope and survival, Look, No Hands is inspired by a real-life cycling collision experienced by Lila Clements (BBC, Sky, Royal Shakespeare Company) in 2010.
Produced by Jack Holden (Cruise, War Horse), this new one-person play explores the female cycling experience and the phenomenon known as Post Traumatic Growth. It has been made in partnership with female cycling club Velociposse. Tickets are on sale here.
Your new play Look, No Hands is coming to Pleasance. What can you tell us about it?
Look, No Hands is my debut solo play as writer and performer. It’s a semi-autobiographical story centered around a real-life cycling collision I had in London back in 2010.
It follows the journey of cyclist Vee, who wakes up in hospital with no idea how she got there and no one can give her answers. She begins a quest to piece together information which will ultimately give her insight into the events of that day….
Interspersed with childhood memories of her father teaching her how to cycle, Vee experiences dream-like hallucinations associated with PTSD and one day finds herself back at the accident spot.
The place where her life changed forever. If she had the choice – would she change what happened to her? Because what she can’t work out, is why something so awful… has make her feel so fantastic!
We’re thrilled to be the recipient of the National Partnership Award with the Pleasance and Pitlochry Festival Theatre this year.
What made you decide to bring your real life experience to the stage?
I’d been thinking about the idea for a while and had started writing a different play, when scenes from Look, No Hands kept appearing (!) Then when lockdown hit and acting work disappeared, I found myself with a lot more time on my hands and this idea about bringing this bike crash to life in a new way.
I started seeing parallels with the global trauma we were all experiencing; identity, life choices, relationships all came into question for many people, as they do in this play – and as they did for me during 2020. Taking the time to reassess what I wanted to do and what stories I wanted to tell, was key to sharing this story of hope and survival within the current climate.
What’s been the biggest challenge for you in translating this story for the stage?
My memory of the collision has never come back to me, so I wanted to reflect this in Vee’s story. She also suffers from amnesia after the collision, the play is non-linear in time; there are flashbacks to the imagined collision, to childhood and gaps where Vee doesn’t know what happened. Bringing these moments to life with one actor and a bike has made us pretty inventive in the rehearsal room. I think this also probably the most conversations I’ve had with myself onstage!
It’s made in partnership with the female cycling club Velociposse; how did that come about?
I got in touch with Herne Hill Velodrome to talk to them about Look, No Hands and they suggested I drop a line to Velociposse. They’re a brilliant, inclusive cycling club and were really excited about getting involved in the development and exploration of female cyclists on stage.
I met Biola, the Chair and some of the other members at HH Velodrome for my first ever track cycling session a few months ago. I don’t cycle in London anymore, so this was a pretty thrilling event with lots of adrenaline!
We wanted to show a female cyclist POV in Look, No Hands, so we popped a 360 degree camera on a harness on one of the Velociposse members to film live footage during a cycling tour of London Monuments – and that’s what audiences will see projected in the play.
What have you learned about Post Traumatic Growth, and how do you hope to share that with audiences?
Post Traumatic Growth is something I learned about quite recently – while I was developing the play and it really struck a chord with my post-collision experience. PTG is the idea that trauma can often be the catalyst for positive change and growth. It can manifest itself in relationships, personal strength, appreciation of life, spiritual development and new perspectives. Often when we experience trauma, we change some parts of ourselves or lifestyles afterwards.
In the play, Vee feels an incredible rush after the collision; feeling hedonistic and superhuman as she survived a traumatic injury. While this is great fun to play with, we’re also sharing the longer lasting growth with audiences – as Vee visits the crash site ten years later…
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see Look, No Hands?
Even though this play is about the trauma of a road accident, there’s also a lot of comedy – as Vee isn’t always the most trustworthy narrator… and some things are stranger than fiction!
This uplifting play speaks to anyone who’s experienced an event that has shaken their world. Look, No Hands is a story about hope and survival, the female cycling experience, Post Traumatic Growth and how we rebuild in the face of adversity.
Expect inventive storytelling, pace, tears and laughter – all on two wheels!
Lila Clements will star in Look, No Hands at The Pleasance 10th – 14th August 2021. Tickets are on sale here.