Life is hard to juggle and these ladies’ balls are in the air. Bekah & Jess have discovered the world's best kept secret... NOBODY KNOWS WHAT THEY'RE DOING.
We talked to the duo all about their show Unsupervised, creating it on opposite sides of the world and what they hope audiences take away from the experience. Have a read!
What sparked the idea for Unsupervised?
Bekah: Unsupervised was sparked in 2017 when I got my first U.T.I and Jess and I started having a discussion around all the things that happen to us as adults that isn’t openly talked about. We don’t often discuss prevention for tricky topics we just heal something if it unfortunately happens to us.
Jess: And that got me thinking, because I had had one before and all I could think was “wtf how come we don’t talk about this more?” Then obviously, “let’s make a show!” Bekah and I have always worked well together and I do remember Bekah sending a message saying something along the lines of do you want to make a show and take over the world and I was like hell yes I do!
B: The show has developed a lot since then and we don’t even talk about U.T.I prevention, but we focus on other topics like sexual health, mental health and a healthy sprinkle of sexism.
J: The show is just really “us” I think. (Please imagine Joey from Friends doing bunny ears when you read that “us”)
How has the collaborative process been so far?
J: Oh my god it’s been out of control. There have been over 150 emails and a lot of video calling.
B: During this season of the show I think Jess has been travelling around about a million cities.
J: Not quite a million, but I have been street performing for the past two months for summer throughout the UK, in Poland and super randomly in the middle east in Kuwait. But Bekah’s been all over the place too! We’re kinda commitment phobes for places. We get each other.
B: I’ve travelled around 5 cities. Nahyeon our producer has been an absolute angel for this long distance collaborative process.
J: I do feel a little bad for making her do long distance straight away. There was one moment all of us were in different time zones. She has been so incredible.
B: For Jess and I we seem to only work under stressful circumstances…
J: That’s actually so true.
B: …so we’re quite used to this now. We also have the luxury of having survived three years of drama school together along with our director Imogen Prossor. I love collaborating with Jess because I feel like we each possess skills that the other doesn’t so I really trust her ideas even if I’m terrified of them because I know she knows what she’s doing. She’s also unashamedly pumped for EVERYTHING. She’s so good at working a crowd and getting them excited and that’s really fun when I’m a crowd of one and she’s convincing me that anything is possible.
J: Anything IS possible! We laugh a lot. That reminds me though of when I did my first ever street show and it was pretty much a crowd of one. Just Bekah watched! Bekah is the best. She is so bloody good at words. She’s written all of the songs and I am constantly in awe of her. I think it also helps that we both love pizza and chocolate as much as the other and hardly ever sleep.
It would be great if even just one person felt really empowered to do whatever makes them feel good after watching our show.
Why are you both drawn to clowning, puppetry and cabaret?
J: So I went through this crazy time at drama school where I wanted to quit every day, nothing made sense and I felt really out of place. Then I got really super sick and everything was mental for a bit! And all of that happened while we were doing our final assessment – cabaret.
B: We studied Musical Theatre and in our third year one of our assessments was to write a 50 minute cabaret in groups of 5. We’re super grateful for the group we were put in and have life long friends and collaborators out of it. For this project however we’ve ditched the show tunes and every song is original (we don’t have to email APRA woo!)
J: Which is perfect because APRA really stresses me out. But yeah, I went through all of this craziness and realised that cabaret felt really good. I loved connecting with the audience and being myself. I then graduated and found clown! So I ran away to Montreal and I’ll save that story for when we have a glass of wine at the bar after the show.
B: Clowning and puppetry are both disciplines we’ve explored separately. I have no clowning experience but have found myself doing a lot of puppetry over the last two years. I find a real magic in the innocence of puppets and how much trust audience members can give to a puppet that they might not give to a fellow human being.
J: I find so much joy and magic in the innocence of clown too.
B: A puppet can also be cheekier, dirtier and ruder and we don’t mind because they’re so darn cute! Puppetry requires the audience to exercise their imaginations and that really excites me.
J: And now I’m really drawn to puppetry because Bekah has so much passion for it and is so damn good at it! She inspires me every day. Did you know she MAKES PUPPETS! She’s amazing.
What is the most irresponsible thing you've done while unsupervised?
J: Oh my god like literally everything I do in a day. I think it can’t get any worse and then I surprise myself every day.
B: One time in 7th form I was late for sports photos and my dad was in Wellington for business. I took his BMW and definitely hit the curb heading round the corner into school.
J: I do loads of spontaneous things that involve spending all my money and trusting the universe that it’ll all be fine. Like last weekend I decided to fly to Kuwait to see a guy for his birthday haha and it was the best and such a good story. Then I ended up filling in for another performer last minute so all is well again in the Westpac account!
B: Also, letting my ACC levy build up and having to pay way more than necessary.
J: Oh yeah I had a big tax bill last year.
B: Also, unprotected sex.
J: None of these are funny cos they’re just all so true.
B: Also, walking home alone. I’m told you’re not allowed to do that as a woman.
What do you hope audiences will take away from Unsupervised?
B: I hope they have fun.
J: Same! Have so much fun.
B: I hope they can relate to our stories either that they’ve been through too or are going through right now. Growing up and living life in general can be a very daunting thing, I find it comforting to think about the fact that we’re all trying to do the same thing! Survive.
J: It would be great if even just one person felt really empowered to do whatever makes them feel good after watching our show. After our first development/workshop season in Christchurch last year we had a lot of people approach us and share their stories. That was really special.
B: We are all alone which means no one is alone.
You can follow Bekah & Jess on Facebook at facebook.com/bekahandjess
Unsupervised is on at Basement Theatre from 11 - 15 Sep. Book tickets or find out more here.