Writer & Actress
Post-It Productions presents their debut play “Call Me Vicky”; a play set in 1980’s Elephant and Castle, charting the “incredible true story of one woman’s journey to become the person she knows herself to be”.
That’s the official line - that we’ve borrowed - and it’s a great one too. But it’s even greater after you get to know the East London sisters behind Post-It Productions, Stacey and Nicola Bland. Inspiringly resourceful, overwhelmingly warm, and oh so SO determined, these two women have come together to produce their first ever creation - about their godmother, Vicky.
It’s hard not to talk like you’re dealing in clichés when you use the word ‘passionate’, but we promise this is the best word we can use. It was a pure privilege to sit down and talk with them . We only hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
How did Call Me Vicky begin?
N: We’re both actresses. Stacey went to Loughborough and studied Drama and English, then did a Postgrad in Musical Theatre. I went to Drama School - so we both have a similar background. We first came together and thought, ‘ok, like let’s try and write something’. It wasn’t even like we had this particular story in mind. We also both had actings jobs so we came back and forth, back and forth. Then someone said to Stacey ‘you should really write what you know’ - hear me out. It also turned out that, and it’s hard to believe, but me and Stacey had actually both tried writing about Vicky’s story. Stacey was doing it as a novel and I was doing it as a web series. I was useless. Then we came together and realised that we had both being trying, entirely unknown to each other. It was meant to be.
Why do you think you both chose Vicky’s story?
N: So Vicky is actually our Godmother but we grew up not knowing anything about her journey. Vicky was just Vicky, from Elephant and Castle with a partner called Sid. You know, she just had a normal life. But the more stories we heard about Vicky, the more we thought we can’t believe that someone has went through this, this whirlwind, and came out the other side. The more I learnt, the more I just thought ‘this needs a platform’.
In fact, you know recently we’ve had people say ‘oh this topic is so good, it’s so current’ and we think ‘no, this is two and a half years in the making’. We didn’t pick a topic, we picked a story about an individual we knew.
So when people call it “topical”, how does that make you feel?
S: I get a little annoyed sometimes.
N: Yeah, so do I.
S: It makes us look like we picked trans thinking ‘yeah, great topic’ but it’s not like that, it’s a true story and it’s all about getting working-class stories out there as well. If theatre is going to be truly representational of everyone, they need to be able see their stories on the stage and if you’re not getting working class stories out there, or LGBTQ+ out there, how is anyone gonna feel represented on stage and feel included?
N: We had an actually mad example of the importance of this. We did our R&D at Stratford East and at the end we did a Q&A for a bit of feedback. At the end, we had a lady put her hand up and ask if she could say something. It’s then that she told us - “I’m going through this right now. My daughter was born a boy, she’s transitioning, we’re a really working class family, we don’t know anyone who is gay, let alone trans” and then she said that she could relate to the Mum of the play, even though it was set in the 80’s. We said to ourselves after, if that does that to one person then our work here is done.
S: We couldn’t have written that response.
N: She doesn’t go to theatre, she’s real working-class, she lives in the back end of Essex - but she needed it. And like we said, the end of our play isn’t a happy ever after but it gave her hope. And that makes every hair on my body stand up.
Like that woman pointed out, the play was set in the 80’s - so when Vicky was growing up. What do you think the main differences between now and then are for the trans community?
N: It hasn’t necessarily got easier but there’s more of a community now whereas Vicky didn’t have that. Vicky doesn’t look at herself as a trans woman. She’s 60 now and she doesn’t talk about it. She doesn’t have a community around her that understands her and can relate. Vicky is more than happy for us to do this but when people ask whether they can interview her we have to say that she just wants to watch it.
How did you find that writing process?
N: We had a lot of teething problems, especially being sisters and being so close. It was hard to know when to give up for the day and when to trust the other person’s gut instinct about something. I’m a strong believer that when your gut tells you to do something, you have to do it. So sometimes I would be feeling like ‘nope, I really feel we need to keep this part’ and Stacey wouldn’t agree and vice versa. It was difficult but we really worked out our strengths and weaknesses. Stacey would very much be on her laptop and was much more grammar, she could articulate herself better than me, but it worked well because I would be phone down and improvising.
What was the most important thing to capture when writing this play?
N: We both wanted a genuine story and a working class feel so it was just about having the courage to tell it and to create something that Vicky would be proud to watch. It’s not a ‘happy ever after’ sort of play, our play is just touching on a certain part of her life. So it’s not ‘she was born Martin and transitioned at 26 and lived happily ever after’. Plus, we wanted to be truthful and respectful with her story so we got a lot of help. Everyone has their own journeys but we wanted to make sure we weren’t being ignorant. It’s why we did loads of table readings and why we tried to get as many people from every walk of life included. We had a trans activist called Kenny come in which was so insightful.
Last question. Out of every AMAZING thing you’ve done, what’s the thing you’re most proud of?
N: Without sounding cliche, mine’s this: I know that on the last bow I will have the biggest lump in my throat.
S: I think I’ll probably just burst into tears.
N: And also, I recently read an interview that Stace did and I didn’t know what she had answered but she had said, to do this with your sister, and your best friend, is THE best part. She’s right. We know how much it’s taken, how much time, and to stand there and to perform with your sister, whether it’s sold out or not, it will be incredible. Like people say to me ‘oh you’re married, congratulations!” and they make it sound like such an amazing achievement, and no disrespect to my husband, he’s a great guy, poor sod, but that’s not an achievement in my life. Seeing something and working hard and fighting against all odds, oh you’ve got 3% chance of arts funding, oh you’re from there, and blocking all of that out and doing it - I think that something is going to have to be pretty big to top this.
S: I wasn’t thinking this is an answer but only because we haven’t done this yet, but as soon as we’ve done one show, I’ll tell you - it’s this.
N: And that’s how we work.
S: It will be though. 100%.
Call Me Vicky starts on Tuesday! You can book your tickets HERE.
Dates are: 19th February - 9th March
Location: Downstairs - Pleasance London
Times: 8pm, 6pm, 3:30pm
Suitable for ages 14 and above
”Call Me Vicky”, the debut play from East London sisters Nicola and Stacey Bland is an honest, frank and revealing insight in to an important struggle that has been relevant for generations. Based entirely on a true story, this fast paced, hard-hitting, yet comic and heartwarming play charts Vicky’s life from a council estate in South London through to the back streets of Soho in one of it’s most dangerous decades.”