Katie Lavers

A powerful, funny one-person show from Yve Blake.

Yve Blake’s one-person show brings together crowd sourced stories, clowning, physical theatre, dance, video, animation and songs to create a unique, funny, and at times moving show.

In September 2013, Blake had the idea to crowd source material for a one-person show. Interested in the way people write their own histories, she set up a website,, asking people to submit stories about themselves at an earlier stage of their lives, in response to the question ‘who were you?’

Her show, entitled Then, is based on a selection of the stories submitted by over 1000 people. More than 100 of these stories are performed using the actual words sent in by contributors, with very little commentary from Blake except for the use of facial expressions, gestures, or sometimes the humorous aside, ‘Thank you, Trolls.’

The stories have been collated, with the support of dramaturg, Georgia Symons, around the structure of the human life cycle, and they move from stories about childhood, to a text about the pain of hitting ​40, through to stories from older people, some in their 90s, who were interviewed in the flesh by Blake. The strongest, most successful section contains the stories about being a child, which are vividly and engagingly brought to life.

The stories are occasionally developed into extended interludes that take the form of song, physical theatre, clowning or dance. Blake is a physically skilled performer with a strong singing voice who seems to move effortlessly between different musical genres and performance styles. Naomi Kuyck-Cohen, the designer, has developed costumes that enhance and develop the ideas of the stories, including one white costume which firstly acts as a projection surface and then transforms, with wing-like sections which pull out at the sides, to intensify the emotional potency of a spinning dance sequence.

Blake was brought up in Sydney, and was closely involved with the Australian Theatre for Young People for more than a decade. She now lives in England and has had considerable success with this one-person show, which has already had several return seasons in London. The Australian Theatre for Young People has now invited her back to perform on home turf, at the ATYP theatre on the wharf in Sydney. It is to the credit of the Australian Theatre for Young People that this talented performer who takes such obvious delight in experimentation, playfulness, and collaboration, was nurtured and developed through its program of work with young people.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Australian Theatre for Young People
Creator and Performer: Yve Blake
Music Producer: Alex Groves
Music Supervisor: Phil Jameson
Dramaturg: Georgia Symons
Designer: Naomi Kuyck-Cohen
Assistant Designer: Alice Cousins
Animation Designer: Rosa Nussbaum
Video Designer: Joel Enfield

PATYP Studio 1, The Wharf, Walsh Bay
9-19 September

About the author

Dr. Katie Lavers is a writer, director, producer and researcher based in Sydney.