Writer & Actress
You’ve already had the pleasure of hearing about Nicola and Stacey and their debut play, “Call Me Vicky”, but we thought we’d give you the treat of finding out more about the people themselves.
We’re hoping your chat makes you slam any flat surface close to you and go out and get what you want from life.
What you’re doing with “Call Me Vicky” is absolutely amazing - but it must be so difficult too. How are you funding this?
S: So, we are both teaching and Nicola works at an educational magazine so that’s our bread and butter. When we were doing acting, it was hard because we would try and make it work in between the jobs. So, for example, Nicola was in Hong Kong for a bit so we tried doing it over Facetime and it didn’t work. However, it never felt like we were putting loads of unpaid time into it because obviously me and Nicola are sisters, we’re very close, we meet up all the time. We’ve seen it brick by brick; as we were writing we didn’t ever know if it was good enough to become something. We just met up once each week and saw how it went and then we were like “oh, it’s done’” and then “oh, it’s time for a play reading” so then we asked actor friends for help - we said we would give lots of tea and biscuits!
N: We pulled in a lot of favours.
S: Then at the theatre called Stratford East where we’ve worked before, the past Artistic Director, Kerry Michael, helped us out.
N: He’s brilliant.
S: He just gave us the space for free. Then we asked actor and writer friends to help and because people are so proud of you for not just sitting down and waiting for an acting job, everyone is just like “yeah, of course I will!”. So we had a couple of play readings whilst also sorting out the Arts Council Funding for R&D and everything else was in our own time. And, to be honest, we are workaholics when it’s something we’re interested in. You know with our other jobs whereas it’s like okay, I love it, well not necessarily love it -
N: I was gonna say..
S: But as soon as it was the writing and we could see we had something, it didn’t matter how many hours we were putting in.
You two are so inspiring. You’ve just gone off and done it because you knew it was right. That takes so much guts and courage. Do you have advice for any other people trying to do something similar?
S: I feel like it’s easy to say don’t let money be an obstacle.
N: Because there are times when it just is.
S: But, you know what, if you just keep your head down, tunnel vision, you just do it.
N: Yeah we weren’t loud about it either. People didn’t know, it wasn’t like we were going around saying ‘oh yeah, just another day writing our play’.
S: Also, remember your friends are there to help! I have a great example of this. I went off to one friend and I was telling her how hard it was. I was telling her that I was doing a job here, a waitressing job there - and it was so hard. Especially when you’re waitressing, people just think you’re nothing, and she just said “Well, why don’t you put on your own play?”. Then I came back and I said “Okay, me and Nicola have a play we love called Game Plan, there are parts in it for us, and it’s great” and she just said “Ok, what do you need me to do?”. So I told her - “direct it”. And she’s not a Director. So we built up this whole persona for Lucy (the friend) and she found a rehearsal place for free, we got actors for free by doing profit share and being transparent, everything was cheap...
N: We really grafted.
S: And in the end, we made our money back, made some more, and then sold out.
N: We had to make it work so we made it work. I’ll always remember when we walked in and they had the board with the dates and it just said ‘sold out’, ‘sold out’, ‘sold out’ and I said “There we go Stace, we’ve done it.”
Can we just say, your relationship is so heartwarming. What is it that makes you work so well as a team?
S: Nicola is so good at just saying “yep, we will do that” and just finding a way to do it, whilst I find the problems and stress out. That’s why it works so well, we always have each other.
N: We’ve had many conversations where she’s pinched me under the table as I say “yes absolutely, we can make that work” and she’s thinking “oh my gosh” but we always come out the other end.
N: You can prove yourself wrong sometimes. We do laugh at it but I do think, if you tell yourself ‘no’ or tell yourself you’re not sure, then who is going to believe you?! That was so important with Pleasance, the Theatre. We came in and it was fantastic - they were like “OK, well we need an answer, do you want the space or not?”.
S: Regardless of the money, regardless of the funding.
N: And that’s a BIG difference in money, we’re not talking just a couple of grand, and I went “absolutely, where do we sign”. Stacey was like ‘huh?’. Then 2 days later we got Arts Council Funding.
S: Those two days after we were just looking at our emails again and again
N: Yeah cause obviously deep down I’m thinking “oh my god” - but one of us has got to do it!
S: It’s like what people say about energy and the universe. What you give out comes back to you.
N: And it’s applicable for whatever you believe in - even if that just is in yourself.
That belief seems so essential to your journey. Would you say it’s more necessary in the Acting Industry?
N: What actors could go through in years, some people couldn’t go through in their lifetime - still to this day people can say ‘no, she’s not skinny enough’ or ‘no, she’s not pretty enough’ and, even without going down that route, you hear ‘no’ so many times that if you start listening to it it can take over. I have an example that stuck with me. I did a job, I won’t say with who, but on day one we all met up and one of the writers said that she couldn’t understand what I was saying ‘half of the time’ because of my accent. I went away and just sobbed and I felt I didn’t deserve to be there. It was my husband, who is absolutely not in the industry whatsoever at all, who just said to me ‘No. You have just the same right as her to be there’. It was from the moment I just knew, you can’t give other people the power.
Agh, that’s so horrible. Amazing how you turned it around though!
N: The irony is that when the director asked if everyone had done the voiceover, because nothing was working, the writer said “Oh yeah, everyone but Nic”. So he said “Oh, how come she hasn’t done that?”. She just said “Oh, I thought you didn’t want that accent.” But then I did it and, lo and behold, whose voice did we hear on the voice over? I remember, when we heard it, my Mum just squeezing my leg because obviously I had told her. I could have let her have the power because she made me feel so silly in that room but why should she choose my destiny?
I used to get that with writing. I used to have it in my head that I was trying to be a writer. Like who was I kidding? But then I realised you can hear feedback but it’s only ever an opinion and it’s up to you to decide relevance. Once I got my head round that, everything was so much easier
N: I think that’s so many people. That’s exactly how we felt and then I just asked ‘who is this writer I am imagining?!”
Well we tell you, from now on the writers we will be imagining are Nicola and Stacey.
We kid, but, seriously, we saw “Call Me Vicky” on the opening night and it was simply amazing. We laughed, danced, cried, laughed and cried a bit more. We were, quite genuinely, deeply moved.
Do you have an idea that you want Post-It Productions to hear? You know what to do.