Interview With…Lila Clements

We chatted to Lila about the world premiere of her play Look, No Hands at the Pleasance Theatre.

Could you explain what Look, No Hands is about? Look, No Hands is a new solo play which is centred around a real life cycling collision I had back in 2010. It follows the story of Vee, a cyclist who wakes up in hospital with no idea how she got there. She begins a quest to piece together information which will ultimately give her insight into
the events of that day. Appearing in court, speaking to witnesses, seeing herself of TV and discovering medical documents – she finds our more information about the collision itself and the people involved. Although very traumatic, what she didn’t expect was that she would feel so incredible afterwards. 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. 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.

How did the idea for the play come about? I’d been thinking about it for a while as an idea and scenes from the play kept appearing when I sat down to write another play. When lockdown was announced and everything changed, I started to see parallels with our experience of Covid; a global trauma we were all navigating for the first
time. I think a lot of people, myself included – spent time reflecting on their lives and their choices
during lockdown. It gave space to take a pause. After the accident, Vee couldn’t ever imagine
feeling so incredible and it was the same for me at the time. It’s this feeling of luck and new
perspective that I wanted to capture for audiences and share a message of hope.

Could you explain what Post-Traumatic Growth is? Post Traumatic Growth is something I learned about while researching the play and it really made sense of my post-collision ‘superhuman’ feeling. PTG is the idea that trauma can often be the catalyst for positive change and growth. People can experience a shift in their perspective, world
views and personal relationships. In the play, Vee feels an incredible rush after the collision; feeling hedonistic and invincible as she survived a traumatic experience. 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…

How did you feel about writing your own experiences and putting it into a play? I’ve actually kept all the documents and clothing from the time of the accident. They are a bit of touchstone for me. Even ten years on, the accident is still very much part of me now and has given me a lot of strength over the years. Sharing the story for the first time is cathartic in that sense, but because it’s also ultimately an optimistic story – it feels right to share a message of survival through dark times. Since the material is semi-autobiographical, we’ve been working with an Artist Wellbeing practitioner called Lou Platt. She works with us to keep the whole team safe in their wellbeing and
practice, while we make a play with traumatic themes. She’s brilliant and I’d love to see her in
more rehearsal rooms!

What is next in store for you? Look, No Hands is the recipient of the 2021 Pleasance Theatre National Partnership Award with Pitlochry Festival Theatre and we’re looking forward to performing at PTF in Spring 2022. We will
definitely be pedalling our way across the UK too!

By Emma Clarendon

Look, No Hands will play at the Pleasance Theatre from the 10th to the 14th August.

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