Two women. One show. No ideas. Solution? Ask the great British public!
Lisa and Rachael of the Improbable Theatre Company wanted to make a theatre show, but couldn’t think of an idea.
So, armed with a tape recorder, they went onto the streets and asked people to take a good look at them both – Lisa with a disability and Rachael without - and imagine what their show should be about.
Who should play the main character?
Who should be the funny one?
What should the story be?
Should it be comedy, tragedy or science fiction adventure?
What they heard was funny, heartfelt and sometimes jaw dropping. Asking the public to write their show seemed to be a good idea but slowly they realized that something was happening that neither of them could have predicted; something very strange indeed.
As the scenes unfold so do the revelations on the public’s attitudes towards Lisa’s disability. When it was suggested the show was to be funny, they imagined Lisa centre stage, while Rachael stayed in the background. When the show was to be based on issues, Lisa was in the spotlight again. But when the story lines were to become more dramatic, with stronger, more detailed plots, Lisa and her wheelchair stayed rooted to the side of the stage, while Rachael’s character dominated the centre.
These were clever and poignant ways to expose the prevailing view of Lisa as either an object of humor or someone with issues. Throughout the play Lisa is particularly eloquent when exploring her place in the world and the reaction her disability evokes in people, from fear and loathing to clumsy ignorance. And how it is that friends like Rachael who gives the shrug-shouldered response ‘I don’t care’ to her disability that stop her falling into a pit of despair.