Transcript of Yve Blake
This transcript has been edited slightly for clarity. Listen to the podcast (41:36)
Jackie – The following podcast is brought to you by the Creative Arts Curriculum Team from Secondary Learners Educational Standards Directorate of the New South Wales Department of Education. As we commence this podcast today, let us acknowledge the traditional custodians of all the lands on which this podcast will be played around New South Wales. Their art, storytelling, music and dance along with all first nations people hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and hopes of Aboriginal Australia. Let us acknowledge with honour and respect our elders past, present and future, especially those Aboriginal people in our presence today who have and still do guide us with their wisdom.
Welcome to the creative cast podcast series. My name is Jackie King, and I'm a creative arts project officer with the New South Wales Department of Education. Today I'm excited to be having an industry chat with one of Australia's emerging musical composing sensations. Please welcome writer of Fangirls Yve Blake. Hi Yve, thanks for joining us today.
Yve – My pleasure, Jackie. Thanks for having me.
Jackie – I've done a little bit of research and sometimes People describe you as totally now a musical name and a snooper who you hope never follows you around the Internet.
Yve – Oh, my gosh. Where is that from? Who wrote that?
Jackie – I'm not sure. I found I read it somewhere on the Internet. So I know that you're a playwright. You are a composer, a musical comedian. And I guess your big work is fan girls, which is the very now musical that's about to come back to Belvoir. But I just wanted to talk through sort of how you got there and and the different things that you have done that has led to Fan Girl. So I noticed that you have done a few different sort of solo tours, and you had a play before fangirls, Sugar Sugar, which debuted in 2015. So can you tell us a little bit about that?
Yve – Yeah, sure. Well, look, I always described, especially when I'm speaking to teenagers who asked, You know, how do you get where you got to? I always describe my career trajectory is really kind of wiggly, so I started as someone who's obsessed with theatre in high school. I discovered that so read as many plays I could and saw as many plays as as I could and theatre's expensive. So sometimes I would write to companies and ask for cheaper tickets on the ground that I was a teenager and I could write them a report and tell them what my experience was like because they need to think about the next generation.
Jackie – How did that go? Uh, did you get cheaper tickets?
Yve – Very successful. Yeah, I was on so Sydney Theatre Company and Griffin Theatre Company used to have these youth advisory panel. So that was sort of teams of teenagers who would see shows and report back to the company about how the companies could be more attractive to teenagers and younger theatregoers. So I started as someone who was interested in theatre but upset by how I felt often when I went to the theatre as a teenager, I was the youngest person in the room, and often the issues on stage didn't really represent stuff I was concerned with. But even at that age, I started to realize, like, wow, Okay, I feel that and I am a cisgender white woman from a pretty privileged background. So who else isn't being seen on stage? And who else doesn't feel welcome in these spaces? So, really, my career has been a series of experiments to try and like celebrate what I love about theatre and break the rules that I don't really agree with. So yeah, I, I became interested in theatre. In high school, I started writing. I guess I was also really interested at that moment with becoming an actor. I left high school and I had started writing.
I started entering playwriting competitions and so I won this competition, that Playwriting Australia did in my final year of high school. It was like I co-won it was a bunch of other writers, but it was this little sticker that sort of said, Keep going. So I sort of just kept writing and I was never finishing plays. Jackie. I was always doing like, 10 pages. And then I'd be like, Oh, it's hopeless. Like, you know, there's lots of struggle, but I eventually started making these, these one woman shows or the solo shows that were, I mean on reflection. They were kind of like interactive. We had character comedy pieces, but they were all about researching. So yeah, I did a bunch of solo shows, and most of them were this format where I built this website and I asked people from around the world to anonymously submit on this website an answer in response to a question. So, so one of the show's idea. The question was, tell me about a version of yourself that you feel no longer are a person you feel you no longer are, and I got a variety of responses. Some people have, like, really nostalgic fond memories of a happier time. Some people talked about really destructive times. They've moved through, and I got more than 2000 entries from around the world. And then I decided to turn those memories into songs. So sort of like an hour of 10 songs, which I guess, in retrospect, you could say is a bit like a cabaret. But I also you know I was 21 I was like, No, it's live art anyway. All I'm trying to say is, Uh, yeah, I started making some solo shows and moved to London. I kept on making work there. I started making interactive works around food where people would sit around a table with iPods and the iPods would tell them how to make art works out of the food in front of the table.
And then they started discussion about their relationship to food, like just a series of experiments that culminated in in 2015 meeting a 13-year-old girl who completely fascinated me. She told me she'd met the man she was gonna marry and when I said, Okay, well, who's he? She told me his name was Harry Styles and When I laughed at her, she said, don't laugh at me. I'm serious. I love him so much I would slit someone's throat to be with him. And I just felt this recognizable feeling off just being, I say, pregnant with curiosity like, I'm not gonna be able to stop thinking about this. I started obsessively researching fangirls and I mean my career. Until that point, Right had been writing a bunch of plays, little mini plays that I never finished doing a bunch of different like playwriting courses and getting into little residencies and groups and doing developments of like, sort of little ideas of things. But I had never realized something as big scale as a full professional musical. So when I met that girl and started researching fangirls, I realized I was gonna have to do a piece of I was gonna have to embark on a piece of work I never created before. And I learned how to write a musical in the process of writing fangirls, right, Because I was sort of just I was just an emerging artist, trying lots of different things.
Jackie – So you wrote the music and the book script and everything for Fan girls. So you've obviously had some music training in your background as well.
Yve – Actually no. I mean that's very fair to assume, but actually, but my background is, you know, when I was in high school, I really wanted to do music as an elective because at my school you did it in your seven and then you could elect it for your year8 and year nine.
So I elected it in year eight, but I couldn't play an instrument, so my school was like, We have to pick one up. So I tried playing the guitar for a year, but I think the last piece I played at the end of the year Jackie was like Twinkle, twinkle, little star So started year nine. My English, my English, my music teacher pulled me aside. It was like, Listen, I don't know that this subject is gonna work for you. I don't know that you're gonna be able to keep up with all the performance exams. And I couldn't read music like I was. Really? I just theory and reading music. I understood parts of it that there were. There were mechanics of it that I just couldn't comprehend. I understood, understood the feelings and listening for all the different parts. But did the maths of it didn't just didn't gel with me. So at her suggestion, I left music and then was like because I was very dramatic, I felt very scarred. And I was like, Oh, I'm just not allowed to write music. So when I was 20 years old after, you know Gosh, let me think I'm 14 when I get kicked out of music, there's like, six years. I'm just like singing, made up songs into my little flip phone and just wishing I could write music but feeling like I felt like a computer without a printer, I had no way to get it out. I finally was like Okay, stuff it and I downloaded this program called Ableton live. It's like a bit of composition software, and I just YouTube. It's awesome, right? Just went on YouTube and I watched hours and hours of teenage boys explaining how to use this program. And so I taught myself. So on YouTube, they'll have tutorials on how to recreate certain pop song. So, like, Gosh, when I was learning, Justin Bieber had this huge dance album, this really poppy dance album.
There's a song on it called Sorry, and I honestly would have spent eight hours just watching this tutorial. How to build that pop song. But by doing that, I was listening to the production elements that were being chosen, and I could start to hear those production elements in other songs. So, like an air filter in the pre chorus that goes to the to the drop. And so I What I'm sharing is that I didn't have any musical training in composition. I learned it off YouTube. I didn't know that was available to me until I was 20. But I wonder what would have happened if I had discovered this earlier when I was a teenager, that it's kind of all sitting there on YouTube. You can get free trials for a lot of this really fancy software and, you know, to write this whole show, I kind of just I taught myself off YouTube. I made a bunch of errors as I went, and then I shared stuff with people eventually for fan girls. I did work with the music producer who took my demos, but the other thing I want to offer is if anyone is listening to this and goes, I wish I could write music, but I don't play piano. I don't play guitar. I can't write music on the stage. These were all issues for me, but actually, now I've learned to write music in a way that so arrangement focused right when I come when I come up with the song, I'm already thinking what the drums might do. I'm already thinking about, like the harmonic textures on what kind of frequency do I want them to be low, high or mid, and, and that is a really asset in collaboration. So anyone who doesn't play an instrument please, you could still write a musical.
Jackie – That's amazing, because when you said that your, your one-woman show is like a cabaret of 10 songs that you wrote. I'm just assuming that you are a musical genius, as well as.
Yve – Far, far from it. I honestly I can't I really.
Jackie – You know what those like you've got to give yourself some credit. That is pretty amazing. If you've had no music training and you are just able to learn that off YouTube and playing with Abelton,
Yve – Thank you. That's very kind Jackie.
Jackie – So let's go back to Fangirls because I want to talk about your research from having that epiphany with the 10 year old girl who was in love with Harry Styles and just would kill for Harry Styles. I watched your Ted X talk with I've got to say had me laughing for 10 minutes. Almost, and it really made me think about fan girls and how we view women as opposed to how we view men. And I thought, Well, I didn't even I'm actually happy to be a fan girl now because as you talk about the shrine to Harry styles, etcetera, how, ingenious that is and how they're able to come up with that. The executive functioning skills. That was amazing. So can you talk about some of your research in writing Fangirls?
Yve – Sure. Well, thanks for the compliments. I mean, what I reflect on in that talk is it's fascinating, right? I met this 13-year-old girl and I was fascinated. But in retrospect, it was a kind of morbid curiosity. The artist in me was going Wow, she's crazy. She's crazy and like, this is a crazy subculture. And I want to investigate it because it sounds like it would be juicy to write like a dramatic, funny story about this and the more research I did. And at the time I first sort of poured all the fans of Harry Styles. and fans of one direction when they were together and it was interesting because my expectations was that I was going to discover behaviour that was really competitive. And it was about a bunch of heterosexual girls bidding for the affection and attention off this dude.
And then I did my research and quickly, like some of the first things I found researching the one direction fandom. Were corners of it I hadn't imagined existed. So, like, rainbow direction, entire facet of the fandom that is about protecting and celebrating and supporting queer fans and They also have all these charity efforts where they raise money and they, like I always love talking about this one gesture they did where they in a stadium in Boston and they did it in other stadiums. They coordinated with a huge number of fans. They figured out which seat seating banks different fans would be sitting in and then circulated different coloured tiles that they could put up on their phone screens. They could coloured image, and the result was that across the stadium, imagine a perfectly proportioned rainbow flag. So one banks red, then orange, then yellow, then green. So, like it just, I was suddenly taken back by, Yeah, the organization skills, the creativity, the goodwill, the fact that these people were uniting through a love of a musical artist. But it wasn't necessarily about like young girls being competitive psychos. And so I started to question. Okay, well, why is that? The dominant association we have with fan girls and their real epiphany moment for me, which I talked about a lot, is that as I was researching one direction fans a couple months later, Zayn Malik left the band one direction, and there was like this global outcry because it was sort of without warning overnight. But there was also a lot of mainstream news reporting, and I really noted the language that was being used. I noted that fan girls were largely being described as hysterical and scary and crazy and hormonal and over the top and a bit much. And I had this epiphany off, like why I always say this.
But why is it that the image of a young girl screaming her lungs out at, say, a Justin Bieber concert might be described with those words? But the image of a young man screaming, even crying at a football match might be described is completely different words. Loyal, passionate, enthusiastic. The love of the game, Australian. I just sort of suddenly went, Oh, wow. Okay, so the more interesting thing about Fangirls isn't the way that they're full of energy. It's the way that people talk about their energy and that subtly gendered ways that we look at enthusiasm when it is deemed to come from like a fem source. And so really, I realized that I did want to write a show about fan girls, and I was excited to write a show about, like, teenage girls, where everything is life or death stakes. But I wanted to design it, as I say, like a Trojan horse. So on the outside, it seems to be kind of like sparkly, funny, almost like a parody kind of energy. But underneath it, it's gonna It's actually talking about some really big social themes that's talking about the different ways that we raise young women and men. And so, in the second act sneaks up on you and punches you in the gut.
Jackie – You've researched all of this information about fan girls, and then you've gone to write fan girls. And I see that you were supported by Rebel Wilson through the theatre maker scholarship and also through the Belvoir Artists Workshop to create Fangirls. Is that what sort of helped you to get it off the ground?
Yve – Yeah, sure, so, Yeah, well well., what I always reflect on is like, Yeah, I had never done a project like this on also. I mean, growing up, I loved musicals. I listened to so many cast albums, but I reflected and really all of my heroes were boys, you know? We're talking.
Tim Minchin, Lin Manuel Miranda composer lyricists before me who I was inspired by. Were all dudes, I didn't have that many women 2.2 who were my heroes and you know, it's small, but it was. It mattered because I was trying to do a story about teenage girls from a female perspective, and I really questioned whether it was even worth trying and if it was worth it, that people would listen, right? So when I, I submitted for the Rebel Wilson Theatre Maker scholarship which took place in 2016 and when I got it, when I knew that she had picked me, it was this moment of going. I mean, I still felt like I don't know if I could do this, but I had someone who was saying, Well, you better and it was a moment where as soon as I got that, I started working six days a week on it so hard and, I was like huh? You know, the grant wasn't in the scheme of things that much money, but saying you because someone else saying you could do this really lit a fire under my bum. So I now try and say to myself, How do I give myself that sticker? and I would say that to teenagers if you feel like I want to write a play, but I can't it's like, Well, who's saying you can't? Because if it's you, then why don't you just say, like, why don't you just for a second pretend that you could? And that's kind of the only way you're going to get started. But yet in terms of finishing it, that was a long, long road. I really thought all right in 2016, and we'll put it on in 2017. But that just wasn't the case like, I was lucky that many producers were interested in the work.
But it took two more years of developing the show in a really rigorous way, and sometimes that was through a funded workshop, and sometimes that was about inviting my friends around my kitchen table and asking them all to read it out loud just so I could hear it and saying to them Really clearly, you know, I don't want tips at the end. I just want to hear what works on. I want to hear what questions you have and what you didn't understand and making really clear to them. That's what I want to know. And I guess I want to share that. To say that yes, sometimes you will get resources to develop your work and sometimes you won't. But you can actually keep moving if you find some kind friends who know when to talk and when to shut up, you know, and hopefully everybody has some friends who can do that.
Jackie – You know, I think sometimes if you can just get yourself attached to like a different community theatre groups who would be interested, like you can very quickly find some friends who would be happy to do that sort of thing. I'm sure.
Yve – It's a really good point, and it's interesting, like in music, you know, people pull bands together all the time. There's no if there's people don't have any issue with, like contacting people going, Hey, you wanna do a collaboration and I don't know if it will work or not, but let's just try and and I think that sometimes theatre needs a bit of that energy of just being like, Hey, do you wanna just try something together? Yes. If you wanna write a play and you're daunted because you're like, Oh, who, but who will be? And how will it go on and said, Well, it doesn't have to. You don't have to get a slot at the old fitz next year. You could maybe just get some mates around the table and start there.
Jackie – Yeah, great. Great suggestion. So you actually played Edna in the production of Fan Girls that went on at Belvoir Street Theatre? Had you put what you've done your one woman shows, I guess before have you done like a big musical before? Have you been involved in.
Yve – Absolutely not. Well, I mean, look, I grew up wanting to be a performer and I've done all of those solo shows, and if I'm honest, I got really burned out from them because I loved the writing part, getting out there every night. I mean, growing up as a teenager, I thought there was no part that would be more glamorous than being a performer, right? It's just simple. It's like everyone pays attention to you. Everyone claps everyone knows who you are. If you get really famous, you get to Hollywood and get free dresses like it just seemed like the best job, right? But then actually doing it sucked and, and, you know it was a privilege to, to be in the lead in Fangirls at Belvoir. My goodness, I learned so much, but what I loved explaining to young people is like I got on that stage and it was a privilege. But I was like, Wait, I always thought acting was like the funnest, coolest thing. It was like nothing could beat acting. But now that I've also tried, writing is a job. Oh, my God, it wins! Hands down for me with writing I could like I can do whatever I want with my day I've got so much freedom I could sit in a cafe and just get cappuccinos all day and just type away while I'm mumbling to myself and like in such comfort and freedom and but as an actor, you're like an athlete. It's like every morning you wake up and you got to go. Oh my God, Am I going to sing that eight second high- D today? or not, and you become someone who suddenly is like I have to save my voice and you can't go to any parties because you're working every night of the week.
All this is to say, I really respect actors and having gone through that show and like the lead role in Fangirls has a lot of stunts, a lot of physical work. I mean, I was covered in bruises. I've had so much respect for performance, but I, I wish that I could go back and tell my teenage self like You don't want to be an actor. You don't you think you do? But there is more actually way more fun jobs. It's not the funnest job.
Jackie – That everyone sees it with that glamour.
Yve – I think it's because I think it's because in our psyche, we think to be acknowledged, recognized, known, understood, to be famous is to be legitimate, and I lived in that part. I grew up in that paradigm. I grew up with Paris Hilton was relevant, like that's what I understood. A success, especially for a woman and now, like all I do all the time, is hope that no one will find things on the Internet of me from my early twenties. Like I crave anonymity like You're describing like Oh, your musical comedian, right? I said, Well, I, I did try that for a year and a half. What? I was 22 but I guess what I'm saying is, Yeah, like, I just I feel like there's been such a paradigm shift in me in my twenties from going, too. I want everyone to know about my work, and I want to be out there to going like, No, I don't really want attention sucks. I just want to drink cappuccinos and come up with rhymes for Tampon and in a cafe like I'm happy. You know what I'm saying? I sort of write my little lyrics and say it and just, like, smash out my pop songs.
Jackie – I think that's really interesting about you not wanting people to see stuff that you made in your twenties. It's something I guess we tell the kids all the time. Like don't put anything on the Internet, that.
Yve – God you be careful.
Jackie – And through doing these podcasts. I've talked to different artists because I've been researching them.
To be able to hold up 20 to 30 minute conversation or sometimes longer and know all about their career, and I start talking about them. They're like, Oh, that's old wait on. Obviously, that's sort of been a source of some of your inspiration to about what you've been able to find on the Internet.
Yve – For sure for sure.
Jackie – I read. I hope this is right that Fangirls is being turned into a series. I do hope that the Harry Styles Shrine is an episode.
Yve – I feel for listeners like the context behind the shrine is in my Ted talk. I refer to this event that happened where Harry Styles, the actual person, was unfortunately sick on the side of a highway and within, I think it's six hours of memory serves. There was a shrine at the space where he vomited, and I, I pull it up in my talk. It's one of the first and last things I talk about. The first time I mentioned it kind of gets a laugh is like, that’s crazy and by the end you take a different perspective on it. But yes, thank you for that tip. I will consider that I will take that into the brainstorm.
Jackie – Awesome. So is that like a television series that's being turned into or?
Yve – Yeah, I can't say too much about it. The thinking is like I've made this story that spans like different continents, and it's about a global network of fans and we wanted to create a screen version of it, and we're still in kind of the development stage and figuring out what form that will take. It's a really interesting and unique challenge, right, like theatre and and screen, whether that's film or TV are such different mediums, especially when you add a musical element. So, it's a really it's a It's a really fun adventure to be on. But the other thing I should say, I was never aware that if you have a career as a theatre writer that can turn into a career as a TV writer, and that's what started happening for me.
So I have a a variety of film and screen project, and it's such a different discipline. But I guess I just was never aware when I was younger than the two like can lead to each other.
Jackie – Yeah cross over a little bit. Yeah, fantastic. And the last thing already is that you are adapting and Aussie kids book into a musical as well, so you still have more musicals on the horizon.
Yve – Yeah, well, I'm so lucky because of the success of Fangirls. I'm now getting away with it. Jackie, people hire me to write musicals. So this girl who like four or five years ago couldn't play an instrument couldn't write a song was sitting on YouTube, trying to figure out how to recreate Justin Bieber songs. Somehow, I'm getting away with it. And if I could do that, if I could write a musical on like my qwerty keyboard than anyone could do anything Uh huh.
Jackie – That is awesome advice. So now, getting to how you've become Yve Blake, writer of Fangirls, which is getting a return season at Belvoir Street Theatre at the start of next year.
Yve – And I'm sure I don't know what will be announced when this goes out, but it's also going to some other places, which I'm really excited about. They're not announced yet, but keep your eye out. That and also we're gonna be putting something on Spotify next year that I'm very excited about.
Jackie – Very exciting. How did you get to the stage and I know you sort of touched on you. You've just kept writing. You've just kept chugging at it. Did you do any particular courses after school throughout your schooling career? Did you, like, attend acting classes after school? Anything like that? What? What got you there?
Yve – Sure. So I went a lot to a T Y. P. The Australian theatre for young people. And I did lots, of course. Is there acting courses? They do productions. I auditioned and got into.
I didn't do any writing classes, but I started reading a lot of plays and I really recommend that. I also wanna say, you know, when I first started going to libraries to check out books, most of the plays that I would find would be I'll just be straight like they would be like 30 years old and almost all written by dudes. And I picked up and go. These plays suck. But if you do a little research online, especially now, you can get pdfs and e versions of stuff you can find lists of younger female playwrights, if that's what you're looking for, or maybe looking for trans playwrights or playwrights of colour like there are ways to find the stuff that you want to read. And that's my number One advice is just read so much of it. I don't know if reading his old school now I feel like everything is all about video content now. But just read plays. Do it, do it, do it even if you want to act. If you want to write whatever you wanna direct, read them. And then, honestly, what? I left school. I started applying for a little micro opportunities. So ATYP. Has a national writers studio, which is like a week long writing camp. Or when I moved to London, I got into the Royal Court Young Writers program, which is like an eight week program eight or 10 weeks for a bunch of playwrights, and they make you do exercises. It's like a little boot camp. So, um, you know, and I record probably across my career, I've done a five or six of those, but was never went to a formal institution to learn how to write. It was just lots of experimentation. Hey, Well, sometimes that leads to learning how to do it.
Jackie – Look at how you've learned how to use Abelton. It's all sort of been through experimentation. So school for you. You obviously had that experience where you were told not to continue doing music, which I think it's a crying shame. Did you do drama at school?
Yve – Yeah, I loved it sick. I was obsessed with drama. I did. I love drama and I had some really good encouraging teachers. So I was. I was very, very lucky in that sense.
Jackie – And did you do much writing drama, or were you still at that stage focused on wanting to be the actor?
Yve – Yeah, I'm not sure. I think we had one assessment with a bit of writing in it. We have to do like a screenplay, maybe can't really remember. I think writing for me became this thing that kind of emerged around year 11 and 12, and like I said, I would just write like a couple of scenes from play and they didn't link up. But I just I bash myself so hard for being like, Well, I got I just sit down in an afternoon to write a whole play, and it's like a whole play is something that comes over many years or months. So yeah, I sort of just started experimenting. You know, the first time I think I finished something though was when I was 22. So if you're listening to this and you're like 15 16, I can't write a play now. I'll never be able to write a play like That's just categorically Not true and Fangirls like Okay, Fangirls is a musical, but it's got a bunch of scenes in it, so you can say it's also a play and that took five years. So, like, you know, you got time.
Jackie – Plenty of time. Did you go to school in New South Wales? So you went to the New South Wales drama syllabus and you had had to do an individual project.
Yve – I did. I did a monologue, did a monologue with like some questionable Eastern European accent. It was called the Jongleur by Dario Fo's I don't Know. Yeah, I just wanted to do something really wacky and comedic, and there's lots of kind of physical comedy, and yeah, I can't remember much about that. I've since written an Onstage monologue or not O stage, like what's it called I P monologue so when I was. Ah, this is wild.
So in 2011, when I did the National Studio ATYP on the good fun fact. So my I was not born as Yve Blake I was born with my birth name was Laura Hopkinson and as Laura Hopkinson, I got that monologue published. Then I guess I'm. A few months later, I changed my name, which is a wacky story.
Jackie – So your experiences at school did you have other opportunities outside of the classroom? Did your school have any sort of creative arts programs that sort of helped to inspire you to become a writer or to be involved? I guess in the entertainment industry, post school.
Yve – I mean, I went to a very privileged school. We had very fancy high school productions, which really useful so I could watch, like the director of those productions, have to manage lots of different departments and understand how backstage work. Because I did backstage until I think year nine, and then I started getting into the shows. I guess that was very useful. I think it's well like I was very precocious, so I know that in year 11, I started doing this like Griffin Theatre in Sydney, had this playwriting course that was otherwise filled with people who were like 40 and wanted to learn playwriting. But I just I signed up even though I was 16 and kind of I guess I would. I would sign up for classes irrespective of my age and just change out of my school uniform and not really bring up how old I was, which I guess, seemed dodgy. But I was very precocious and like I would, I don't know, like, nowadays there's that thing masterclass that people watch, right? But I would watch lots of, like, one or two hour long videos on YouTube of like playwrights discussing the craft. That was sort of that was where I was getting above my info.
Jackie – Okay, cool. So in terms of our teachers who are listening, who hopefully listening to this podcast? What sort of advice would you put out there for how we could support someone like you who was clearly showing like some interest? Because you're obviously going to those outside of school courses. You obviously going to lots of different courses like that? You're, you're obviously interested. How can we help to build that curiosity builds that interest to and prepare, prepare our students for writing?
Yve – I have a few answers to this question, so I guess pick and choose based on what you feel is most relevant. Another thing I just realized that I do to during high school precociously is like I said, I wrote to theatre company but the email address for various directors who I admired or, or writers and I asked if I could have coffee with them or email them and ask them some questions about what they do now. A lot of the time, people were too busy and that's fine. But sometimes people like yeah, sure, by asking questions, I'm getting more of a sense of what's out there. I think I really get into confidence and enthusiasm, and it made me want to engage more. And I think I said watching these videos of playwrights, discussing their craft and engaging with it and really getting a tangible sense of the world beyond high school really helped me move through. Ah, lot of the apathy I felt in high school of just like this is taking forever. Why do I have to do this? Does that make sense? So, like what motivated me was going like, Oh my God, it's just there. It's just on the other side of the HSC, this whole world of theatre making that I could be a part of. So, I started writing and generating as much stuff as I could and kind of going, I'm gonna get ahead like I'm gonna engage now.
I would suggest that one of the hardest things for young writers to do is just sit down and start writing because there's this whole crisis of, like, all your early work is going to be terrible. It's gonna be not how you want it to be, and that's fine. It doesn't have to be good yet. It just has to be your first work. So, I would just really encourage. I guess I would encourage teachers to get students to, to reach out and find resources that resonate with them. So also do that research and, and find a place that kids can read that I'm gonna like from up. And they're different and weird. So, like, plays that radicalized me and made me go Oh my God, this is what's possible our plays like the Wolves and Dance Nation. And there's this play that I read when I was 15, like I swear turned me into a playwright. It's called Fat Kids on Fire by a writer called Bekah Brunstetter and it's about a bunch of kids who go to fat camp. I'd like just to use like the terms the words from the from the show like It's weightless camp, but it means that there's all these kids who usually have a social outcasts, and now they reorganized the hierarchy of the camp and it was hilarious. It was so funny and it was about teenagers, and I was like, I want to see this and really, that's it. You need to get teenagers aware that there is stuff out there that they actually want to see that and, then get them motivated to respond in their work and to go Oh, well, if a play could be like that, I'm gonna write a play like this that make sense.
Jackie – Very much so and I think things like being able to take the students to see the shows that Belvoir Street theatre and any sort of shows I know my students. I didn't actually get to take the students to see fangirls. Another teacher in our school did.
But those students came back so inspired and so excited about the show and watching something different that really got them hooked into wanting to perform and also seeing something different helps them to see what's out there.
Yve – Yeah, awesome. And also like, I don't know who's out there listening to this. But when Fangirls is out next year, I really love like guest, lecturing for classes or like guest teaching. And that's for me. That's a huge. That's my dream. With this show, right is to talk to teenagers about it. And frankly, my ultimate dream is to see it in high schools being performed. That's when I could die happy. So, yeah, if you're a teacher and you have questions about the text like just reach out, I love to talk about it.
Jackie – Well, I was going there with my next question. What would be out there for teachers to be able to for fan girls connecting with people like yourself connecting with you to be able to inspire their students.
Yve – Well, here's what's great currency press are publishing the script in January, so they will have a bunch of learning. Resources available from them, and I know that Belvoir also have a huge pack of learning resources. We, as I mentioned, we are putting out studio cast recording most of the original cast early next year. So that will be there. And, and I guess also, if you're teaching it and or you want to know more about that, there is my Ted talk. Yeah, that there's gonna be some good resources out there in early next year, so I'm excited about that.
Jackie – Fantastic. And we can also reach out and.
Yve – Yeah, I'm Look, I'm on Instagram ping me a message or reach out to my manager. And, like, I always want to answer a question. If it's about helping teenagers understand theatre making.
Jackie – That's amazing. I would like to finish with the final Fast five questions.
Yve – What are they?
Jackie – They're mostly about you in high school, so let's see how we go. What high school did you go to?
Yve – SCEGGS Darlinghurst in Sydney.
Jackie – And your favourite subject at school and why?
Yve – Okay, so drama was my favorite, but I gotta say looking back, I have a very soft spot for general maths because I did general math, for the HSC to make up units. And I love everything I learned in General maths. They taught us stuff about compound interest investing and, like life skills that you need as an adult. So if you can stand it, general maths is, What's up?
Jackie – Oh, that's good. That's not what I was expecting to hear.
Yve – I love it. I love a spreadsheet.
Jackie – Uh, favorite teacher and why?
Yve – Shout out to Mr Britain. My English teacher who left at the start of Year 12, broke all of our hearts because we're obsessed with him, who then came and saw Fangirls and reached out to me and didn't, because I changed my name after high school, he didn't realize it was me. It was very cute reunion story, and we co presented at an educational conference earlier this year. He's a legend.
Jackie – Oh, how exciting.
Yve – Shout out to Tony Britton.
Jackie – Best school achievement or your favourite memory at school?
Yve – Ooh, that's a good one. What's my favourite memory like soft spot for all the school musicals? I'll tell you what in in the school musical I did in year 10 Les Misérables. We did it with the all-boys high school and at the back of the hall I met the, the one boy from the other school who was even more pretentious than I was. We're there back of a hall watching it two drama kids being like, Wow, whore number three really isn't selling her truth like just so pretentious and We became good, good friends, and we work together to this day. So his name's Johnny Ware, and he became the dramaturg. Or which is like the story consultant on fangirls and.
We still work together, and I guess it's, it's wild that I have a friend from high school that I still work with. Yeah, like anything could happen with these friends. You're meeting in high school, you know?
Jackie – Absolutely. And the last one, 1 take away from your school experience or advice to teachers.
Yve – I mean, look, I'm sure this is teaching 101 and I do not mean to sound patronizing, but I think the story of me being encouraged not to study music elective it's really interesting, right, because for the six years then I thought that I kind of wasn't allowed to be a musician, and that's just my interpretation of that. But I was 14 and I was pretty, like, sensitive. So, you know, it took me six years to realize that there are You don't always have to go through the front door. You can kind of climb through a window into some knowledge, and I guess I would just offer the teachers. If you feel like a student is struggling with an aspect of the curriculum or the way that you're supposed to teach them a skill, you know, there might be other weird ways that they can hack into it. And look, I know that's teaching 101, but I guess I just I encourage teachers to like heed the story that I told because somehow, I'm now getting paid to write songs for a living, and I'm sure that my music teacher could never have guessed it. So, there we go.
Jackie – But what would you say for a student who is like you, who was really interested in writing? Where did they go to from finished, when they finished school?
Yve – Sure, now that I think is a really good question because I definitely remember feeling like I love theatre and I go to plays and I go like, I don't know any of these people. I don't know how to just do plays. I don't just write this company and say; how do I do a play and? I remember feeling that exasperation.
So my number one tip is you want to find people around your own age or a little older who are your peers who are also emerging What you're probably going to do for the start of your career is really scrapped together shows, you know, to see your play put on, you're gonna have to borrow a projector from someone you're gonna have to pay, find some way to get together like a few bucks to, borrow a space for a night. Or, I mean, I once did a show in a pub, part of the deal was I could do it in the back room of the pub with no lights in it, so long as everyone who came brought a beer because then, like that would make it worthwhile for the pub. You're just gonna have to do some scrappy stuff. It's not gonna be glamorous, but you will slowly get better and better at it. Document everything, film everything well and, you know, figure out how to get the emails of the producers, who you want to come and see it. Get people's attention and you just climb the ladder slowly. That's the advice that I have. And finally, if you want to write musicals, if that's what you want to do, trick is this. Write a two-page summary of what you're trying to do. Make it like a sales pitch. Make it as pithy as you can and then find out a way that you can record the highest quality demos off your work doesn't have to be ritzy over the top production. But if you can have like a 3.5-minute MP3 of a song that's really funny and persuasive and doesn't sound like every other musical theatre song and if you can get that in the email inbox of someone who produces theatre, that might be the way that you start a conversation. And really, that's a lot easier. Making a 3.5 minutes song, then borrowing a pub and getting everyone to buy a beer. So, if you're writing musicals.
You have to actually have it easier in a wacky way.
Or instead of trying to write a whole play and.
Yeah, exactly. Don't be. Just don't beat yourself up. You got time.
Jackie – Beautiful. That is such beautiful advice today, Yve. Thank you so much for your time. Good luck with the relaunch or, or with Fangirls. Thank you. Coming up again at Belvoir. Yeah. You will see me there. I'm definitely going to get a ticket. And I can't wait to see the possible series of fan girls. And what comes?
Yve – Thanks, Jackie. Okay, you have a good one.
Jackie – You too. Bye.
Jackie – Thank you for tuning into our creative cast podcast series This term. This industry chart is the last of 2020. We look forward to bringing you more engaging stories of the screen stage and behind the scenes when we return with the creative cast in 2021. The musicals discussed throughout this episode are suggestions only and imply no endorsement by the New South Wales Department of Education of any writer, composer or publisher. This podcast was brought to you by the Creative Arts Curriculum Team of Secondary Learners Educational Standards Directorate of the New South Wales Department of Education. Join us on the Creative Arts State Wide Staff Room as a source of all truths regarding New South Wales curriculum. Or you can follow us on Facebook or Twitter at creative arts 7 to 12 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . The music for this podcast was composed by Alex Manton, and audio production by Jason King.
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