CONFESSIONS OF A SLEEPWALKING INSOMNIAC

BATS Theatre, The Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

08/09/2022 - 10/09/2022

BATS Theatre, The Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

05/06/2024 - 09/06/2024

TAHI FESTIVAL 2022

Production Details


By Helen Vivienne Fletcher
Directed by: Laura Haughey (2022); Emma Katene (2024)
By Arrangement with Playmarket NZ

Producer (2024): Helen Vivienne Fletcher


A sniper just shot a bullet through Briar’s window. Or… Briar had a nightmare and went crashing into a solid wooden door. Maybe the MRI machine can tell her which.

Briar’s always been a sleepwalker, but when a new relationship sends her sleep disorder into overdrive, it’s not just her REM cycle that suffers. Briar’s grip on reality is slipping, and her life is coming apart with it. The possibility of an assistance dog offers hope, but with injuries a nightly occurrence and her girlfriend’s patience wearing thin, Briar’s finding love might not be as unconditional as promised

“The quality of production in every respect makes it a pleasure to suspend disbelief and engage.” – HowToCatchaGrimReaper, John Smythe, Theatreview, 2015.

Based on the true story of a series of things that didn’t really happen, playwright Helen Vivienne Fletcher, winner of the Peter Harcourt Outstanding New Playwright Award 2015, draws on her lifetime of sleep misadventures in this new solo play. Falling asleep, or falling in love – which one is about to crash?

This is a Work in Development in 2022, meaning the creative team has had a short development rehearsal process and is sharing explorations and possibilities of a brand new play text, commissioned by TAHI Festival. This is a chance to see an exciting and evolving work in development, in a modest form.

2022

BATS Theatre, the Stage, 1 Kent Terrace, Wellington
1 – 10 September 2022
6.30pm
Full price: $20 | Concession: $15 | Group 6+: $18
Companion Ticket: $0 | The Difference: $40
BOOK

NZSL ACCESS
Confessions of a Sleepwalking Insomniac features integrated NZSL interpretation by Nicola Clements for all three performances of the show this TAHI Festival. There will be a short briefing at 6pm every night so please leave enough time for you to arrive, collect your tickets and enter the theatre. The Stage is wheelchair accessible. For full details about accessibility at BATS click here

TAHI Festival
A celebration of solo artists, TAHI is a ten-day Festival from 8-17 September dedicated to showcasing the finest and most engaging solo performances from all around Aotearoa. With events across Pōneke in 2022, check out our website for all the details and to book.
www.tahifestival.com| @tahifestivalnz | #TAHI2022

TAHI Taster
Get more art for your buck with our TAHI Taster tickets! See any two TAHI Festival shows at BATS Theatre for just $30 – a saving of $10!

2024

Live Streaming, Captioning, and Audio Description are thanks to the ANZ Staff Foundation.

Wednesday June 5th 6:30pm – Opening Night
Thursday June 6th 6:30pm – Live Streamed/ Captioned Performance
Friday June 7th 6:30pm – Audio Described (Touch Tour 5:45pm)
Saturday June 8th 6:30pm – NZSL Interpreted Performance (NZSL Briefing 6pm)
Sunday June 9th, 4 pm – Relaxed Matinee Performance
PRICES: Waged – $20, Unwaged – $15, Extra Aroha – $40
BOOKING LINK: https://bats.co.nz/whats-on/confessions-of-a-sleepwalking-insomniac/


Performer: Pauline Ward

2022
NZSL Interpreter: Nicola Clements
Lighting Designer and Operator: Grace Newtown
Sound Design: Isaac Hooper
Stage Manager: Kate Anderson
Stage Directing: Angie Farrow <
Producers: Beth Barclay & Sally Richards
Project Manager: Fay Van Der Meulen

2024
Designer: Kate Anderson
Sound Designer: Emma Katene
Stage Manager: Crystal Pulkowski
NZSL: Nicola Clements
Deaf Consultant: Theresa Cooper
Audio Description: Audio Description New Zealand


Solo , Theatre ,


1 hr

Writing, acting and directing blend perfectly

Review by Shemaia Dixon 08th Jun 2024

When turning on the Livestream to watch Confessions of a Sleepwalking Insomniac, the first thing to appear onscreen is a bed and a rug. Beside the bed are two blocks that serve as either seats or tables. Briar (Pauline Ward) runs onstage in what appears to be a scene straight out of an action movie… but turns out to be a nightmare that leaves her literally running into a door.

What follows is an hour of Briar taking the audience through the recent events of her life. As the ‘honeymoon period’ of her relationship is ending, Briar struggles to balance her blossoming relationship with her sleeping disorder that is simultaneously going into overdrive.

There is much more to Briar’s situation than simply sleepwalking as she deals with casual ableism and a girlfriend who is running out of patience.

Disabled audience members can easily relate to the everyday ableism Briar faces from medical professionals, acquaintances and loved ones alike. As a disabled person, I especially relate to loved ones suggesting ‘cures’ they’ve found on Google that may ‘fix me’.  

In addition to the potential for able-bodied audiences to learn about disabled experiences, in a world where the disabled experience is so variable, watching disabled stories and being able to find a relatable experience while also learning about a new experience is a very beautiful feeling that comes across wonderfully in writer/producer Helen Vivian Fletchers piece.  

The live captions accompanying the Livestream aren’t perfect but communicate the show well and are a wonderful step forward for accessibility.

Ward is dynamic and entertaining as she tells Briar’s story to the audience, seamlessly miming interacting with people around her in this solo show. Fletcher’s writing, Ward’s acting and Emma Katene’s directing blend perfectly together to create an entertaining must-see piece of theatre.

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Uses humour and pathos to gently guide us towards seeing complexity

Review by Henrietta Bollinger 06th Jun 2024

The opening night of Confessions of a Sleep Walking Insomniac clearly has the audience enthralled. This is obvious from the sharp intakes of breath, the sympathetic exclamations I hear behind me, when life seems to be veering off course for Briar, the heroine of the piece. It is even clearer when the audience openly affirms her choices. “You would [done that] too, right?” she asks after she’s made a particularly wrenching decision to stand up for herself. Members of the audience call out “Yes!” as though we are her friends.

Confessions of a Sleep-Walking Insomniac draws on the lived experience of the playwright Helen Vivinne Fletcher and is described as a series of “true events that didn’t really happen.” We are invited into the world of Briar who is living with a sleep disorder. She is trying to be a good partner, daughter and friend. This is while waiting for what she hopes will help – an assistance dog… The light at the end of a six year long waiting list.

The play was first imagined as stand-up comedy. It was then commissioned as a work in development by TAHI Festival of solo theatre, directed by Laura Haughey lasy year. I am thrilled to see it return to the stage.

The new production brings together the original performer, Pauline Ward, with a new director, Emma Katene. It is a joy to watch Ward take further ownership of this character and world.

As a disabled person watching her, there are many resonant moments.  Moments that make me want to laugh, call out in recognition or empathy too. Disabled audience members will relate to the everyday ableism: being prescribed yoga or positivity as a disability cure-all.  They will hear a sense of humour that ableist experiences no doubt helped hone.  But more than that they will be seeing disability in three dimensions, which is rare and much needed.

The story is unapologetically filtered through Briar’s  perspective. In fact many of the other characters are amalgamations. At one point we are told shruggingly to “project one of [our] own exes” onto a character. This is amusing, a conspiratorial moment with the audience. But there is power in it too. It is usually disabled people who are left only half imagined in non-disabled art. Our ordinary lives very rarely take centre stage unless they provide useful metaphors or reflect legible stereotypes. 

We see people wanting Briar repeatedly to fit into definitions they’ll understand, and the strain it puts us and our relationships under when she is unable to do that. Even as Fletcher shows the ridiculousness of non-disabled people wanting to love her character to health, there is a generosity for everyone that underpins the telling.

The other striking thing is that Fletcher’s writing manages a delicate balance of being comedic and hopeful while not shying away from moments of despair. If either of these tipped too far one way it would risk flattening disabled experience, saying it was one thing or another, not something in between.

This is typical of the piece – it uses humour and pathos to gently guide us towards seeing complexity, towards seeing the person in front of us.

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Startling, insightful, instructive and entertaining

Review by Margaret Austin 10th Sep 2022

The Tahi Festival is supposed to feature solo performances, so I am surprised to see two persons on the BATS stage at the outset of this show. And eventually joined by a third. Briar (Pauline Ward) is our solo performer, the other two are NZSL interpreter Nicola Clements and Stage Manager Kate Anderson. Director Laura Haughey has cleverly integrated both into the action.

What could be worse than not being able to fall asleep at night? Or having done so, to be plagued by nightmares? Playwright Helen Vivienne Fletcher has drawn on actual experiences from her lifetime of sleep misadventures to script a startling and sympathetic portrayal of such a life.

Briar’s sleeping troubles are exacerbated by the advent of a girlfriend, Alma, whose presence in Briar’s life is first greeted with anticipation and delight. Alas, though, Alma is intent on ‘helping’ her hapless new friend, and Briar’s attempts to explain her sleep disorder and to minimise its effects don’t help the relationship. Try yoga, meditation, self-hypnosis Alma urges.

One of the chief delights of this exploration of relationship is that our heroine discovers that she can manage to be happy – even happier – without the ultimately cloying effect of a romantic other.

The medical profession can’t help either – a wry portrayal of their myriad suggestions and prescriptions is especially salutary. A pill backfires with devastating effect. The black hole of sleep deprivation endures.

But help is at hand in canine form to save our heroine from being driven barking mad. A dog! – we are left to conjure up its precise appearance and nature – arrives on the scene. Trained evidently to deal with the Briars of this world, human and animal form a useful bond.

If confessions can constitute such an insightful, instructive and entertaining piece of theatre, let’s have more of them.

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