BATS Theatre, The Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

24/10/2020 - 24/10/2020

BATS Theatre-hosted online livestream, Global

12/06/2020 - 18/06/2020

BATS Theatre, Studio, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

10/03/2020 - 16/03/2020

TAHI Festival 2020

NZ Fringe Festival 2020

Production Details

A solo show about thriving and surviving through grief, happenstance, and self- sabotage.

“Jean Sergent takes no prisoners” John Smythe, Theatreview (re Burn Her)

From acclaimed Wellington actor Jean Sergent comes a solo show about thriving and surviving through grief, happenstance, and self-sabotage.

Has life ever gotten so weird and dumb that you’ve joined a cult? Jean Sergent has done that, and more, so you don’t have to. Join Jean on a cosmic comedic journey through terrible happenings and horrible choices to learn how to Change Your Own Life.

Change Your Own Life promises to be an uplifting, inspiring, and hilarious hour in the intimate space of the BATS Studio. Bring your rose quartz and get ready to open your chakras, or at least laugh about sad things.

Jean Sergent is an iconic Wellington actress, known for her work with The Bacchanals. In 2019 she performed at BATS theatre in ‘Say Something Nice’, winner of the Sydney and Melbourne Fringe touring awards; in Sarah Delahunty’s T’his Long Winter’ and in the 2019 STAB show ‘ransom.’ Jean’s 2013 show ‘Corner Diary’ won the The Fringe Comedy Award.

BATS Studio
10 – 16 March 2020
7:30pm, Sunday Show At 6:30pm
Full Price $20
Group 6+ $17
Concession Price $15
Addict Cardholder $14

*Access to The Studio is via stairs, so please contact the BATS Box Office at least 24 hours in advance if you have accessibility requirements so that appropriate arrangements can be made. Read more about accessibility at BATS.



Jean Sergent’s smash hit solo returns but this time it’s online. Grab your rose quartz and get ready to Change Your Own Life!

Watch the Live Stream HERE!

“I’ve never seen jean give anything less than a powerhouse performance, but this show… Gawd. Look, it’s maybe the most generous performance i’ve ever seen. She never turns off, never disconnects from us, her audience.” Freya Daly Sadgrove, Pantograph Punch

From acclaimed Wellington actor Jean Sergent comes the return season of her solo show about thriving and surviving through grief, happenstance, and self-sabotage.

Has life ever gotten so weird and dumb that you’ve joined a cult? Jean Sergent has done that, and more, so you don’t have to. Join Jean on a cosmic comedic journey through terrible happenings and horrible choices to learn how to Change Your Own Life.

Change Your Own Life promises to be an uplifting, inspiring, and hilarious hour in the intimate space of your living room! All hail the magic of live streaming!

Grab your crystals, light some candles, and get ready to open your chakras, or at least laugh about sad things.

Jean Sergent (ransom., Burn Her) is a favourite cool young aunt of the Wellington Theatre scene. Well-known for her work with The Bacchanals, Jean is also a writer, occasional journalist, and co-founder of the International Actors Ensemble. The return season of Change Your Own Life will be Jean’s 7 millionth production at BATS.

The Random Stage
12 – 18 June 2020
Full Price $20
Concession Price $15

BATS Theatre, The Dome 
24 October 2020
Full Price $22
Group 6+ $20
Concession Price $18
TAHI Festival  

Webcast , Theatre , Solo ,

1 hr

Private grief universalised

Review by Margaret Austin 25th Oct 2020

On preparing to see Change Your Own Life on the final night of the Tahi Festival at BATS’ Dome, I jadedly ask myself if we are in for a well-meaning sermon on the subject this title suggests.

“You are about to learn a lot about me,” declares the solo presenter, Jean Sergent. She then proceeds to elaborate on this confessional prelude. We learn of the sorrowful events – the deaths of two young men she was close to – that form the sad pretext for her urge to address us. 

Michael and she lived together – he was her cousin; it was a Platonic relationship. He died three times we learn. Then she was left living in the Aro Valley “with a dead boy’s things”. She gave away his books, his clothes, but not his study notes. Or one last pair of shoes. “He just might need those.” If we haven’t yet been captured by the sincere pathos of this discourse, we surely are now.

In late 2016, another death, this time of her brother. On top of the grief this gives rise to, it sparks a search for resolution through a raft of New Age healers.

That the following description of experiences could be cringeworthy self-indulgence, but aren’t, is testament to the strength of this confessional drama. There was once a fortune teller who wept at what she saw; now there’s a Mexican shaman and tarot cards.

Avoiding didacticism in a subject of this nature is essential if the audience is to really listen. With her frankness and self-examination, Jean largely manages this. “Pain is coming for us,” she says, and her body language makes it a tangible truth.

In the course of 45 minutes, we learn how one woman has struggled and continues to struggle with grief. She universalises a private grief by concluding with a ten-point list of how we might deal with our own. 


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Well thought-out, bewitching offering from Sergent

Review by Sonya Stewart 24th Jun 2020

The performance originally streamed live on Friday, June 12 at 6pm. Purchasers of the livestream recording will have access to watch until Friday, 25 June, at 11.59pm

Tarot cards and top drawers, love, grief and shadows are all discussed in Jean Sergent’s return season at Bats.

Written for the stage, and performed on livestream it loses nothing in the change of medium. The stage is a rug oasis surrounded by her hoarded objects. Cosy and intimate, you’ve been invited into her personal space which is perfect for a show sharing her life, thoughts and pain. [More


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Potent in Any Medium

Review by Irene Corbett 15th Jun 2020

Jean Sergent’s solo show returns from Fringe to the stage and your nearest screen. Change Your Own Life is a guide to navigating where the body, immense love, and overwhelming grief intersect.

With the lockdown and social distancing closing theatres and keeping audiences apart since March, transitioning to an online platform has become a popular alternative for theatres and performers (two such theatrical productions have been reviewed by Theatre Scenes, Butcher Holler Here We Come, and ATC’s adaptation of The Seagull, though both of these works relied on pre-recorded material). Returning following its debut in the 2020 NZ Fringe, Change Your Own Life joins the new wealth of online material via a livestream direct from BATS. 

So how does a livestream differ to a re-recorded performance? [More


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A wake-up call for someone looking to grab the reins of their life again

Review by Claire O’Loughlin 13th Jun 2020

Okay, here is the argument of my review in a nutshell: Jean Sergent’s Change Your Own Life needs to become a Netflix special right now. There, I called it. I have three reasons:

Firstly, everyone, the world over, needs to see it. It will change their lives (yes, I do know what I just did there, but Jean herself closes the show with referencing the title, and, because she is now my guru and witch mother, that’s how I’m going to end this review too).  

Secondly, the show lends itself perfectly, in my opinion, to a recording with a live audience. I have no shame in saying that at the end, I burst in raptous applause and honest-to-whatever-faith-you-follow, clapped my hands sore for a solid ten seconds before I remembered I was alone in my house, clapping at my computer screen. Such was my profound bodily need to express how buoyed and connected I felt. 

My third reason is selfish: I need this show on tap. It is so cram-packed with beauty, honesty, courage, advice, wisdom and witch magic that I am going to need to come back to it again and again. Honestly, for me it is right up there with Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette and Brené Brown’s The Call to Courage.

I. Cannot. Get. Enough.

It’s a deeply personal story about unbearable loss and grief, as Jean takes us through the journey she has been on since losing two people very close to her in 2016. We learn about these lovely young men, one a friend and her flatmate, and the other her baby brother. She gave eulogies at both their funerals, and lives to tell the tale. It’s never cliché, there’s no inspirational, Kmart-pillow words here. The depth of grief is balanced with the strength of courage to keep going. 

Part storytelling and part life advice (and advice to keep living), it is structured as a ritual, and comments on ritual throughout. The ebb and flow is dynamic. Jean allows for pause and reflection, then switches the pace up, making us laugh by dropping casual bombshells like “when I was in cult…”. There are stories of gurus and rituals she has taken part in, and she reads tarot cards throughout. The way Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette is a cleverly drawn out, deconstructed joke, Change Your Own Life is a deconstructed ritual. It glues me to the screen.

It also feels on-point for this moment in time, when we’re coming out of lockdown and figuring out how to make sense of our world again. This show was one of BATS’ final shows in the theatre before Lockdown closed it in March (you can read Jean’s piece on that experience in the Pantograph Punch), and now one of the first ones back in the theatre again – albeit with a small live audience and the rest of us online. I do wish I had seen it live in the Fringe but it also feels perfect for right now. Like many of us, I’m in a place of slowly emerging from the quiet, internal world I went into in lockdown, and this show is a wake-up call for someone looking to grab the reins of their life again. 

She finishes with a final eulogy — her own. It’s the last part of the journey, and of the ritual. It’s a promise to herself, with us the audience as her witnesses, that she will live a long life. Speaking of herself in third person, we learn that she lived to 105, made her best work in her last 15 years, and that she changed her own life. And so we know, now, that she has and she will. And I honestly feel like this show is going to change mine.  


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Uplifting, refreshing, poignant wisdom

Review by Emilie Hope 11th Mar 2020

Why are witches today still deemed taboo? We know magic isn’t real, that most magic is actually science, and most modern witches look like you and me. Most modern witches use tarot as part of their sacred practice, believe in energies of some kind, and in astrology – broadly speaking. But perhaps witches are still considered taboo because they have a large grounding in who they are, or are doing a lot of the mahi to learn about who they are, and perhaps they might have some hard truths that you don’t want to hear right now. 

Well, Jean Sergent is going to tell you regardless. Sergent brings big witch energy of a black humour kind to her show, Change Your Own Life, and invites you to do just that.

We walk into the intimate Studio space at BATS and feel as though we have entered Sergent’s lounge or bedroom. She sits on the floor, shuffling a tarot deck. I feel awkward. The space seems so inviting, yet Sergent isn’t engaging with us yet. Are we meant to treat it as a fourth wall? Is Sergent trying to get in the zone of the show? Should she not be disturbed? I quickly find my seat and take a look at the set.

There is art and posters on the wall, including three A3 sized black ones with cracks of lightning running through it. There are two mini whiteboards leaning against the wall: one has ten things that are the ‘To Do List’, the other has eleven things that are ‘C.Y.O.L’. There are books stacked and leaning against the wall. A couple I spot have Dame Whina Cooper on the cover and the other is called The Gay Blades. In the corner there’s a red suitcase with a piece of clothing draped over it. Near the suitcase upstage is a three-tiered trolley shelf with a kombutcha scoby on the middle shelf. A large green floral rug rests square in the middle of the space. To the left of it, framed posters and photos of artists. To its right, framed family photos and a bedside table with a plant, more photos, books and a few crystals. Some of these items are discussed later in the show, others remain part of the décor.

Sergent asks an audience member to flick the house lights off and we start the show. She states this is a show about three deaths, that in this show you will learn a lot about her, and she begins to explain the first death.  

We fall in love with her best friend, soulmate, life partner, cousin, and flatmate, Michael, as she explains his personality with such love and care. She knows the day, month, year, but more precisely the time when he passed away. His story is sad and his death seems slow and fast at the same time. Sergent hovers around the bedside table top, explaining that when she first heard he was dead, she immediately hid the extremely personal contents of his bedside table top draw. Who do you trust enough to do this? Sergent chooses fellow actor Neenah Dekkers-Reihana, who is the least judgemental person she knows.

Change Your Own Life flits between hard truths and being serendipitously yet darkly charming. The only vaguely occult thing that happens in the show is when the lights, skilfully operated by David Conroy, change to a green and purple radiance around Sergent, and she explains something vaguely occult. This happens four times and the first is when she explains a story which ends in her licking ash off her palm. The final three times is when she takes one of the black lightning posters off the wall, spins it around and explains the tarot card she is holding.

And, no, neither the Death card nor the Hanged Man show up in this reading, they’re actually quite positive cards: Strength, Judgement and the Chariot. As she introduces each card’s art and meaning, she explains more about herself and how she dealt with the grief of losing not only Michael, but also her brother. The little whiteboards come out with tips for how to deal with such loss and they are both funny and hard hitting. C.Y.O.L stands for, you guessed it, Change Your Own Life.

Sergent delves into why she stopped dating and how she gained weight after losing not one but two incredibly young souls, when she was young herself, only nine months apart. She couldn’t date because she wasn’t ready. Yet she has outsourced the task of finding a partner, which she does want, to her friends. The only problem being that her friends have higher standards of who she should be with than she does. But has she settled into the idea of accepting her bisexual “big spinster energy”? And the weight gain came from such a painful and stressful time in her life, but how does she feel about her body now? I feel if Sergent went deeper into these topics and showed us a place of total vulnerability, I would be able to say that I’ve learnt more about her as a person, rather than about things that happened to her. And perhaps she will, once she knows the answers.

Sergent subtly asks us throughout the show how we want to be remembered after we die. So she finishes the show by giving her own eulogy, hers being the third death, after placing two crowns on her head that look like the light rays leaving the head of the Madonna and placing a framed portrait of herself – done by fellow artist and witch Aimee Smith, aka Cosmobones – on the rug. Her eulogy is uplifting without shying away from some of her faults. And we learn how Sergent “learnt to live”.

Change Your Own Life receives a standing ovation on opening night and we leave feeling completely uplifted. Sergent gives refreshing, poignant wisdom which comes from personal experience. Its advice I have heard via friends, therapists, and the internet ether, but we are so enveloped in her world we are willing to receive it. It comes from a place of true heart and Sergent creates a direct line between hers and ours. She says “loss can make you wise,” and now I believe Jean Sergent is the wisest person I know.


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