Wendy Hoose is a show about online dating and disability from a frank and honest perspective. It will open in Soho on the 12th April and continue through until May 7th. We caught up with actress Amy Conachan who plays Laura in the play to ask her about her thoughts on the world of modern dating and what first drew her to the script.
Please tell us a little bit about your upcoming show Wendy Hoose.
It is a sex comedy about a couple, Laura and Jake, who meet online. The play takes place over the evening where they meet each other for the first time. It's essentially about why people are going online to meet people more and more nowadays, what we expect of people when we go online ourselves and how that differs when we physically meet them. It is a fully accessible performance and features, signing, surtitling and audio description in every single show.
What appealed to you most about this project?
I think the fact that it's so relevant to so many people really appealed to me. I think you would struggle to find someone who can't relate to something in the play. It deals with a number of very real life topics but in a very funny and accessible way. You don't have to been a hard core theatre buff to really enjoy this play; it's for everyone.
Why do you think so many singles don't post accurate pictures of themselves on dating sites and Facebook?
I think it's so easy to adjust and alter images nowadays, with things like Instagram so available to people. If you have insecurities it's very easy to fade that out or crop an image or filter it to make yourself look, in your own opinion, more attractive. If that's so easy to do then you're going to do it. I don't think the majority of people purposely go out to post misleading images, I think it's just more about trying to show yourself in the best possible light at the stage when all they've got to judge you on is a photograph.
How have you found dating and relationships in general being a wheelchair user?
I think it's certainly affected because of it. I'm currently single but I can't blame that totally on the fact that I'm in a wheelchair, I do tend to be very fussy. It's easy/more successful to start up a more romantic relationship with someone who I have been friends with for a while because they already know me and how I am affected by the disability, which isn't a lot, but that takes a while for people to realise sometimes. I know a number of people with various disabilities who are in relationships so I know that it certainly doesn't stand in the way when you find the right person. I just haven't found that person yet. It can make things more complicated but if you are willing to be really honest and upfront from the very beginning, you're probably going to be more successful.
Do you worry or have you ever worried about when to reveal your disability to a potential partner?
I mean my disability is very visually obvious so there's not really any way to hide it in order to then reveal it if I am with the person in 'real life'. However, I was on Tinder for a short period of time and I know that when I was selecting my photos I tried to avoid pictures where you could see my wheelchair so that they could chat to me a bit first before I told them. I was always quite upfront though, I generally revealed very early on because I wasn't interested in building any sort of relationship if they were then going to have an issue with it. I just wanted to be the one in control of them finding out. It was also kind of nice to have a short period of time where they didn't know as that can never happen in real life.
Why do you think people don't realise when they meet over a dating app that disability might be a factor?
I think that's actually a really interesting question and one I've never really thought about before. I honestly don't know. Maybe it comes down to the fact that we don't see disabled people accurately represented on tv/film enough, in a sexual context so it doesn't even come to mind that it could be a possibility. Or the fact that we are a minority so the chances of 'matching' with someone with a disability are much less than matching with someone without. It's funny though, as a disabled person, I wouldn't even have given it a thought that I could have matched with someone else in a wheelchair or some other disability.
You are the first wheelchair user to attend Glasgow's Royal Conservatoire's acting course, so how was your experience of learning the craft?
It was wonderful! I really enjoyed my time at RCS. It was extremely hard work and it had its ups and downs but as a whole it was great. I learned a huge amount and it's opened up a lot of opportunities for me. I also got to meet some of my now, best friends who will be in my life forever. They didn't overdo it with asking me if I needed any help or anything like that, it became very apparent early on that if I needed any kind of support that I would ask for it. That worked very well, as well as not singling me out from the rest of the group.
When did you first know you wanted to be an actress?
I have a twin sister and when we were 8 she started going to dance classes in the town where we live. I went for a while too but I didn't get as much out of it as she did so my mum enrolled my in the local drama group. I loved it from the beginning and after a few years started going to theatre school which was more advanced. It was when I started theatre school that I decided I wanted to be an actress. It kind of stuck after that.
You star alongside James Young, so how have you found working with him and what has the atmosphere been like during rehearsals?
It's been an absolute joy from the very beginning. James is great to work with. He's got more experience that me so I was slightly nervous before we started but he never made me feel like I was inexperienced and we just got on really well. Robert and Johnny are definitely characters in their own right so rehearsals can be a bit wild at times. They both have their fair share of stories to tell so there has been plenty of tangents. The room is always filled with hilarity and ridiculousness, which fits very nicely with the play.
What is next for you?
After our run at Soho we'll take Wendy Hoose to Spain, which will be very nice indeed and after that who knows?! We'll just need to wait and see what comes up.