When faced with tough circumstances people often use the expression of feeling like they’ve been hit by a 10-tonne truck. For Katie Damer, that horror was real. At age 15 she was hit by a truck when cycling home from school and was told she’d never walk again.
Katie defied all odds by later running a marathon and has written an inspirational one-woman show, Totally Trucked about her journey back to hope. The 22-year-old premiered the autobiographical show in Manchester before taking it to Edinburgh Fringe where it won critical acclaim for being ‘heart-breaking, hilarious and incredibly raw.’ Now she is staging it again for one night at The Kings Arms, Salford ahead of a London run. Carmel Thomason meets her to find out more:
How did the idea for Totally Trucked come about?
Katie: “I studied drama at the University of Chichester, and it was very focused on making your own work. You know the story – I was hit by a truck and I was told I’m going to walk again. It’s quite therapeutic to sit and write about these things”.
What is your creative process?
Katie: “I think I’ve got a weird creative process. I don’t think of myself as a writer, I just take inspiration from strange little things and strange little looks and moments. I’m really fascinated by life and humans, and connection, and all those things. When I was writing Totally Trucked, every time I saw something, and it would be the tiniest thing like two strangers doing something that made me go – oh what’s going on there? A little moment of connection. Then, all of a sudden, I’d written half a page or whatever, and obviously everything eventually stemmed back to my life. But those things made me connect stuff in a different way and I’d go – oh wow, I never realised I thought that, and all of a sudden I’ve found something out, and then in stages I assembled it into a show”.
Your show is a comedy, how did you get to see light out of what happened?
Katie: “I always say that I think being hit by that truck saved my life, which is the silliest thing because it was possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever went through and ever will go through. But I genuinely think that that accident saved my life because at that point I was I was a hormonal teenager, I was horrible to be around. I hated my life. I hated school. I couldn’t be bothered with any of it. And that moment when I got hit by that truck – you know when people say their life flashes before their eyes and you can think, ah that’s such a film moment. Well it’s so true. The moment I got hit by that truck, my entire life slowed down and that moment of going – I’m never going to see the people I love again, I’m not going to have chance to say goodbye. All of that is something I’ve never forgotten, and it always carries me through. Even though it was the worst moment of my life and one I’d never want to relive, it gave me it gave me an attitude to live my life and make the most of every moment, because you never know when you’re going to lose everything”.
Where do you think your sense of humour comes from?
Katie: “Probably my sister, who is a nurse. She works with young people who have got cancer, which obviously is a really difficult job. Nurses have often got the darkest sense of humour – I think to cope with what they go through. I think I adopted that a little bit. I very much, I use humour as a coping mechanism so much of the time. I like the fact that I can laugh about the accident. I think these kind of things you’ve got to laugh at sometimes just to get through. And I also think it makes it more impactful. There’s a rule that if you want to make people cry, you have to make them laugh first. You have to make people like you before you can make them feel sorry for you or feel affected by anything that you’re saying. I think you have to have that personable kind of comedic thing. So, you’ve got to find the light and the dark in these things in life, I guess”.
So, do you think your sense of humour changed after the accident?
Katie: “Probably, a little bit, yeah. I think before the accident I was quite a troubled kid. I was very angry little thing. After the accident I lightened up a little bit, which is strange to say, but yeah, I think it probably did make me see the light in things.
“I think that came with just appreciating everything around me and having value for life. It made me want to find things funny. Everyone always says I’m a really good audience. I laugh at everything because I don’t see the point of not doing. Why would I not take those moments to smile and have a little laugh?
“I appreciate my family, my friends and every silly little good thing that happens. I can say ok it’s been a really bad day, but this one good thing happened and it gives me a little boost.
“When you go running sometimes people cheer you on in the street and it’s one of my favourite things in the world. There’s a little running community that. Or when you run past other runners there’s a little wave and a little nod. Those tiny things that just give you that boost to keep going, they are the little things that I appreciate more now that I possibly would have overlooked before.”
Why do you think people should come and see the show?
Katie: “I hope and pray people come to see it for my sanity and for my bank account.
“But seriously, when I did Totally Trucked so many people who watched it came up to me afterwards and said they understood and related to every moment. Which for me was a massive thing of importance that everybody felt seen and heard. I don’t think any of them has been hit by a truck but everybody is going through something, whether people admit it, whether people don’t admit it, whether people are open about it or not, everybody is going through something. If someone comes to watch that show and leaves and thinks I can talk to someone about what I’m going through. My job is done.
“This world is really difficult to live in sometimes, but there are things that can make it a bit easier. And I think that speaking to people is one of them. And I think that’s why the show is important”.
What would you say to anyone who is going through a tough situation right now?
Katie: “There are bad days in life that happen. And there are days where you think that everything feels worthless and useless and it’s no good carrying on. And you want to give up on everything. And I think the important thing to do is just wait a bit. Because those things will always get better, those things will always improve. There will always be something around the corner that’s going to make those things a little bit easier. That’s going to make your life a little bit easier. There’s going to be someone you love waiting there to tell you a silly joke. And if you just wait a bit for those little moments, everything in life just feels a little bit smoother, little bit easier to cope with.
“So that’s what I’d say – wait a bit. I’m going to get that on a little sticker, just gonna walk around with wait a bit written on my head”.