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Harold Wood and Wanstead playwrights debut LGBT play Call Me Vicky tells true story of transgender godmother

PUBLISHED: 17:00 05 February 2019 | UPDATED: 10:03 06 February 2019

Coronation Street star Wendi Peters as Vicky, alongside Nicola Bland in her debut play 'Call Me Vicky'. Photo: Ken Mears

Coronation Street star Wendi Peters as Vicky, alongside Nicola Bland in her debut play 'Call Me Vicky'. Photo: Ken Mears

Archant

The story of a woman's incredible journey transitioning from a man to a woman in the 80s is the focus of a heartwarming play written by two sisters from east London, this LGBT History Month.

Nicola and Stacey Bland at the Redbridge Drama Centre where their play 'Call Me Vicky' will be performed.Nicola and Stacey Bland at the Redbridge Drama Centre where their play 'Call Me Vicky' will be performed.

Stacey Bland, 32, from Harold Wood and Nicola Bland, 30, from Wanstead, both had the same instinct to start seeking out the story of their godmother, Vicky.

The two sisters, originally from Romford, brought their ideas together to write their debut play, Call Me Vicky, featuring Coronation Street star Wendi Peters as Vicky’s mum Sylvie.

Stacey told the Recorder: “It was quite hard because it’s such a personal story and it’s our first play.

“It was about 10 years after I first spoke to mum [Janice Bland] about Vicky’s story and six years since Nicola spoke to Vicky that we started chatting about ideas for a play.

Nicola and Stacey Bland at the Redbridge Drama Centre where their play 'Call Me Vicky' will be performed.Nicola and Stacey Bland at the Redbridge Drama Centre where their play 'Call Me Vicky' will be performed.

“Everyone had kept saying, ‘you should write what you know’, and then we discovered that both of us had previously looked into writing a story about Vicky.”

Vicky - who was born Martin - was raised on a council estate in south London and worked in the back streets of Soho in one of its most dangerous decades.

Vicky and best friend Debbie are getting ready for another night out at their favourite night spot, The Golden Girl - one of Soho’s premier drag clubs.

Drinking, drugs and violence are common place as Vicky attempts to overcome all of the adversity and ostracism that surrounds her transitioning.

Rehearsals underway at the Redbridge Drama Centre for 'Call Me Vicky'Rehearsals underway at the Redbridge Drama Centre for 'Call Me Vicky'

Co-writing the play as siblings meant that Nicola and Stacey had some advantages when it came to working together.

“We didn’t want to just bash it out and we weren’t working to a specific time plan,” said Nicola.

“We were more concerned about it being the right story. We parked it quite a lot and would say lets just have a breather.”

Stacey added: “We had a lot of teething issues in the beginning where we had to work out each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

Rehearsals underway at the Redbridge Drama Centre for 'Call Me Vicky'Rehearsals underway at the Redbridge Drama Centre for 'Call Me Vicky'

“But once when we relaxed a bit, we were able to find our rhythm. I think because we grew up together we are genuinely really close and in sync.”

It’s no coincidence that the play premieres in LGBT History Month as the writers explained that being able to share Vicky’s story with a younger generation means a lot for them.

“We’re showing stories of people that were pioneers for the LGBT community,” said Stacey.

“It’s so important that these stories are told by the LGBT community on the stage. It shows that they’re stories worth telling.”

Rehearsals underway at the Redbridge Drama Centre for 'Call Me Vicky'Rehearsals underway at the Redbridge Drama Centre for 'Call Me Vicky'

Nicola added: “For us to get the older school kids and sixth form students involved with the play would be great.

“We’re not exactly old ourselves and we can still learn so much from the younger generation. We want the play to relate to all ages.”

Not only did the sisters write the play, but they also feature in the production with Nicola taking on the role of their mum - called Debbie in the play - and Stacey playing Vicky’s friend, Gabby.

Speaking about playing her mum, Nicola said: “It’s an honour”.

“The play shows the highs and lows,” she said.

“We’re not for one minute painting a picture that Vicky sailed through all of this, but it shows that with the right people around you, you can get through it.”

Stacey added: “What was really nice to see was how much of a lovely person our mum is and the friendship she has with Vicky.

“They have stuck by each other and have a really rock solid friendship.”

Vicky has yet to see the play herself, but Nicola and Stacey that she was “very excited” to see the first showing on February 15 at Redbridge Drama Centre in Churchfields Road.

Call Me Vicky also plays at Pleasance Theatre from February 19 to March 9.

For tickets visit Redbridgedramacentre.co.uk or pleasance.co.uk.

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