Once There Was A Woman


Once There Was a Woman is an evocative telling by a traveller on an epic journey to find her lost mother. Memories are traded for access to destinations, imagination is the fuel and a true telling is the final exit point from grief. Bittersweet, punctuated with humour, Once There Was A Woman uses physical theatre to reveal how extraordinary the ordinary is – it is a tale of kindness and letting go.


Created and performed by:
Beth Kayes

Dramaturgical consultant:
Murray Edmond

Music by:
Hope Csutoros and Claire Cowan

Lighting Design by:
Russ King

Consultant Director:
Ruth Dudding


NZHerald: March 2, 2017, Reviewed by Dione Joseph

Beth Kayes is a compelling performer and her one-woman show, Once There Was A Woman, is a tribute narrative from a daughter to a mother… Kayes presents a short, powerful biography of a dynamic non-conformist, an educator, a mother, a literature lover: a woman who refused to be defined by a terminal illness. Kayes is every inch a versatile actor. The world she creates is clearly a result of strong training and discipline and is well punctuated with an array of recognisable theatrical devices. This is the world of a daughter who is seeking professional help. During her discussion with her counsellor, she offers a number of insights into her parent: a vivacious woman whose interactions at home, and in her community, reflect a number of key changes that took place in New Zealand in the 1970s.

It has the real potential to make the audience genuinely care about our elderly and the palliative care they receive right here in Aotearoa. A tender and eloquent work that has been meticulously crafted, Once There Was A Woman, has much to offer its audiences.

(click to read full review)

Theatre Scenes Blog: March 1, 2017, Reviewed by Andrew Parker.

Theatre is a visual medium, I was reminded shortly after viewing Beth Kayes’ solo performance Once There Was a Woman. Its an observation more commonly applied to film, but if anything it’s more true for the stage. Theatre withholds as much as it shows, drawing magic not just from what we see, but from what is absent and Kayes’ piece is very much an exploration of absence, grief and memory. This informs both the story it tells and its highly effective use of Q Loft. We may be used to thinking of solo works – especially a stripped back, spartan piece like this – as belonging to more intimate spaces. But here we see how one woman and a chair can fill a much larger space just as easily – the negative space is not empty, but filled with the wonder and ambiguity of Kayes’ work…

(click to read full review)

  • Once There was a Woman