Do you have a fan girl moment? Mine was way back in the 70’s. You remember the days of platform thongs and crocheted bikinis. My friends Ducky, Jules and I got up at four in the morning. We caught a bus and a train from Redcliffe and set up camp outside the Park Royal hotel (now Royal On The Park) just waiting for a glimpse of teen idol Leif Garrett. Hundreds of girls would later in the day be screaming for him, but we were there first. Suddenly a black car zoomed past and we were sure Leif was in it. We’d know that mop of wavy hair anywhere. Hadn’t we been dreaming about running our hands through it for weeks? We raced to a cab and as in all the best movies of the day yelled, “ Follow that car!”
And follow he did, we followed that car all the way up Mount Coot-Tha where Leif was being interviewed outdoors by Channel 7’s Annette Alison. We were so close we could’ve kissed him. Our hearts raced , we swooned and we could not believe our luck. The memory of that day still makes me smile. Leif Garrett was just as dreamy in real life as he was on his album covers or smiling out at us from the cover of Teen Beat. Yep, that was us on the news with Leif that night, girls!
Why we all even learned to skateboard in the car park of our local shops after seeing him in the movie Skateboard! Such love, such devotion!
Yve Blake has taken this feeling and created the play Fangirls, the latest offering from Queensland Theatre, being directed by one of my favourites, Paige Rattray. I was lucky enough to interview Yve ahead of the play’s opening and I am now fangirling on her. Not only is Yve a talented writer and comedian, she stars in the play, sings all the songs that she’s written and she even wrote the script. I wondered how this talented young woman came to be here treading the boards of our beloved Bille Brown Theatre.
Yve says, “I was born and raised in Sydney by a couple of legends. I’m an only child, but I have a brother from another mother who is 13 years older. My career is like a big salad of different ideas, and the dressing that ties everything together is the silliness. “
Yve had always dreamed of writing a musical but instead began writing plays after failing to learn to play four instruments ( including the euphonium). Yve continues, “ I won a Playwriting Competition in my final year of high school, but I still had no idea how to get my plays staged. Feeling impatient I decided to write and perform a one woman show. It premiered in the back room of a pub at the Adelaide Fringe when I was 18, and it was THE MOST DIY. I glue-gunned my costumes because I didn’t know how to sew. I couldn’t afford press photos so I made posters on MS paint. Somehow though people liked it enough that it got offers to tour around Australia and the UK.“
Like many Australian artists, Yve moved to the UK and made a bunch of oddball interactive theatre before quite literally deciding to face the music. She says, “ I taught myself how to make music on my computer.The playwright in me became obsessed with writing songs based on interviews with real people. Well, more than 2000 people sent me stories and the songs I wrote about them became my second one woman show. That show EXPLODED and got five return seasons in London the year it came out. Off the back of that I got signed as a musical comedian and spent a year gigging in clubs before I met a 13 year old fangirl who inspired my dream project : FANGIRLS.“
To help with this dream Yve won the Rebel Wilson scholarship which allowed her to spend a year writing FANGIRLS. She made a video of some of the songs and film, TV and theatre producers liked it, so now it is on stage here in Queensland and is also being developed into a TV series in London.
I asked Yve if she’d experienced a fangirl moment that inspired her to write the musical. She replies, “The moment that inspired me was a conversation with a 13 year old girl in 2015. She told me she was going to marry Harry Stiles, and would ‘ slit someone’s throat to be with him’. Her love for him was life or death and I thought, ‘There’s a HECTIC show in this’.
But when I began researching FANGIRLS I became fascinated by one question : Why does a boy screaming his lungs out at the football feel ‘normal’ but the image of a 13 year old girl shrieking at a Harry Styles concert seem a bit ‘much’ , a bit ‘crazy ‘ and a bit ‘unhinged’?“
Yve’s role in the play is that of Edna who she describes as , “A fourteen year old who is in real – actual true love with Harry. Only problem is so are 38 million other people- because Harry’s in the biggest boyband in the world- True Connection. Edna is also insanely smart. She’s on a scholarship to a rich private school. She doesn’t fit in, but it doesn’t matter because she’s found two best friends who love Harry’s music as much as she does. But then, they turn against her. So Edna has no -one. Except Harry. FANGIRLS is the story of Edna trying to meet Harry at any cost. All of the characters are inspired by the 100+ Fangirls I interviewed while writing it. There are Fangirls of all creeds and all ages: there’s a single Mum raising a fangirl, there’s a queer male who is frustrated at how Harry is only marketed to young girls and of course there is Harry, part of the world’s biggest boyband.”
I’m happy to say that Jules, Ducky and I are still friends more than 40 years later.
Harry is played by Ayden Calafiore, one of the four finalists on the 2018 season of The Voice. I asked Yve about Aydan joining the cast.
She says, “I am unspeakably excited. I first learned about Aydan when I was shown a video of him performing on The Voice. I think I gagged with disbelief. He can sing , dance and with the kind of talent it takes decades to cultivate and he’s only eighteen. Plus he’s so socially aware and I’m so excited for people to see him act.“
I ask Yve what audiences can expect when they come along to see FANGIRLS.
She enthusiastically says you will be in for, “The best concert you’ve ever been to and a severely fun night out. The play is a comedy with the stakes of a thriller and is an unapologetic celebration of teenage girls. But for all its joy there are some heavy moments. So expect to cringe, to re live your first crush and then get sucker punched in the heart.”
Yve is also busy developing the story into a series with Clerkenwell Films (Misfits) in London. She’s co – writing a movie for Aquarius Films set in 1995 About Rock Eisteddfods plus adapting a kid’s book into a stage musical and working on a podcast musical.
Phew, I can’t see Yve Blake slowing down anytime soon but if she does you might find her hanging out at Streets Beach near the theatre in South Bank. She laughs, “Is that cheesy? Get me on that sand! I want recommendations though! If you’re reading this, I’m dead serious – what should I see or do? Tweet me @yveblake.“
You can see this young powerhouse on stage at the Bille Brown Theatre until the 5 October 2019. FANGIRLS promises audiences a hilarious musical comedy about first love, fan culture and the danger of underestimating teenage girls. It’s stacked with insanely catchy numbers that will take you straight back to your first crush and make you feel ALL THE FEELS. So what are you waiting for? Get your posse together now for a fun night out! Jules, Ducky …. Are you in?
Freelance writer, wife and mother of three sons, occasional supply teacher and aspiring romance author, Michelle Beesley can be most often found in a coffee shop chatting with friends or beside a rugby field cheering on her favourite teams.
Michelle is a prolific—albeit reluctant—traveller, keen walker, bookworm and yoga enthusiast who loves anything pink or sparkly (including champagne!).