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YOUTH THEATRE: What is ‘meaningful’ now? What is ‘connection’ now?’

Extract from a monologue: Ellen LGYT

As the (freelance) artistic director of the (newly named) Leeds Grand Youth Theatre I and the two non-furloughed members of the Learning Team (James and Rachel) have been keeping the youth theatre going, at a distance. What are we doing? Why and how do we continue?

Who really cares?

Our young people need to feel some sense of normality and routine, and perhaps most of all to know they have agency in this world when the earth is shifting so fast beneath their feet. We, along with many youth theatre’s across the UK, are quietly doing everything we can to continue to support our young people who are unable to meet physically but who desperately need to reach out and create work with and for each other, and also to let you know that we’re all still here, one way or another.

I have felt the pressure to facilitate ‘meaningful’ content with the LGYT and share it online  – for them, for the Grand, for me (I’m a freelancer ergo I can only solidly exist if I’m making and sharing work…) but I have taken it gently because

  1. I didn’t know where to start when everything had so abruptly stopped.
  2. The rest of the freelance team – my wonderful team, (nothing happens in isolation in the theatre, except it has to now) just had to down tools whilst I was lucky enough to have my contract honoured.
  3. The sheer volume of work that started being pumped out online was overwhelming.
  4. I wanted to run away and hide under a stone.
  5. Every single one of the young people who normally come to the Grand every Saturday and work and play together are now climbing their own mountains every day alongside parents, carers and siblings. 

But with time, patience and huge support from the Grand, the wheels started turning, albeit in a different way, but turning nevertheless.

Many of the older ones have had exams taken away alongside our annual full-scale musical – for some it was their first major role having worked their socks off to get the role and now they may not be back to take up that role because they are leaving in Sept and the musical can’t happen until next Summer (at the earliest). The younger group have had the show they helped to write has disappeared into an – as yet – unforeseeable future. Many are bombarded with online work from schools to catch up on, are feeling the pressure to exercise, missing friends, arguing with family, lacking personal space, wanting an escape. So when we can’t physically be together, laughing, stretching, rehearsing, singing and telling stories – letting our imaginations run riot  – what is ‘meaningful’ content now? What is ‘connection’ now?

Since starting this blogpost and today (a gap of 3 weeks… procrastination is everyone’s familiar little demon right now) I have had the time to talk to other Youth Theatre Directors and practitioners and WE ALL FEEL THE SAME WAY. We’re all on a learning curve, trying to create work with and for our young people and make it MATTER for them whilst also functioning as a public facing sector. We ALL need to share the oxygen and use it well. Also, does it have to matter? I’m a huge advocate for the artistic journey over the destination, but that doesn’t’ really work in this context, the young people need a ‘point’ to all this when many other ‘points’ have gone. So, for me, yes it does have to matter to the young people we are asking to hold tight.

So we create and feedback and share, adding to the tsunami, battling with the big theatre’s streaming plays, big names performing myriad things in myriad ways, companies trying to stay afloat and relevant as the water rises, and the smaller ones, the names not yet known throw out their contributions.

Extract from ‘Old Man’ a monologue: Gabriel LGYT

Our social media posts are now screenshots of poetry, little scenes, a drawing – where once there were photos and videos of these young people laughing, singing, leaping and looking moodily into the distance, all together in our rehearsal space. It’s different, it feels a bit chillier, we’ve lost at least 1 dimension of our youth theatre for now, but remember that the work you see was made in 3 dimensions, by that young person in their own space, created in their head, a piece of their world shared in a few lines, a picture, a character, a poem and, yes, that this too shall pass BUT there is no going back, there is only – as there only ever is in theatre – moving forwards, both responding to and forging change.

Poem: Dan LGYT Group 2

The RSC recently held a consultation with their Youth Advisory Board – young people aged nine to eighteen from across the English regions. They were asked about the experience of learning at home and in the main they talked of difficulties in concentrating and adjusting to the lack of routine; about a lack of motivation; a feeling of ‘what’s the point’ after exams have been cancelled; confusion about which platforms to look on to find the work being set by different teachers; a feeling of being in limbo. Out of the 17 young people on the video conference, one was thriving in the current context.

Every young person in every youth theatre in the UK is the actual next generation, (cue: Whitney Houston) thinking and creating in their own space right now, and that is why we will continue to reach out to them (even on the exhausting Zoom) and work with them, and listen to what they have to say and find ways to share their words and pictures for anyone who has a second to see.  Please stop by when you can and see what they’re doing –  and let them know you have.

Poem: Victoria LGYT


When I was at school, doing a Drama A Level the drama teacher I knew and loved had to leave. He was replaced by a man who’s arrival coincided with some intensely difficult personal circumstances and I struggled to maintain the involvement and success I’d enjoyed in drama so far. My new drama teacher ‘Mr H’ found me hard work, chippy and opinionated. I probably was a bit, but I didn’t mean to be, I just felt he couldn’t see the real me. That was probably because I wasn’t showing him…(and I was a teenager in a very bad place).

After a particularly angry exchange, he quietly said “You’ll come to nothing”. Not even in Drama, just everything. Nothing. Stated as as fact.

After school that day I went to my Youth Theatre Director’s house to work on a monologue for a Drama School audition. His name was Geoff and he was ace. Grey haired and deep lines, proper kind eyes. His wife made us hot chocolate and one of his daughter’s  – R – sat and did her homework in the corner. The monologue was one I’d been working on for a while and this was a final session to polish it.

We started the session and suddenly I couldn’t do it, I tried and tried and got worse and worse. Geoff stopped me, told me to have a break and we sat for a while staring out of his big picture window onto the street, sipping hot chocolate and watching strangers walk by. I genuinely felt that that was that, Mr H was right, I was already becoming nothing. To my horror I started crying and I couldn’t stop (I barely ever cried in those days) – after a while I told Geoff what Mr H had said, I also told him what was happening at home.

He didn’t respond for ages, I assumed he was trying to find the (gentler) words to tell me he agreed with Mr H and that my personal life was not for sharing. I knew I should go but I didn’t know how to leave. Someone stared in his window and Geoff waved at them. They looked embarrassed and hurried on.

Eventually he said ‘Right, let’s try again. And this time stop acting. Stay where you are, sat on the sofa, and tell me what your character has to tell me’.

I did what he said, and it worked. I let the words speak for themselves and Geoff’s daughter said ‘bloody hell, that was good’ – and Geoff said ‘don’t swear R’ and R said ‘bloody isn’t swearing’.

I went home and I did it again in my room and then I did it for Dad who got emotional – so I knew I’d got it right as he was a farmer and not known for choking up unless it was about a cow.

Geoff was the one who made it impossible for me to do anything other than work in theatre and spend the lion’s share of that time training young actors. He helped me to understand the power of slipping from believing that something is completely beyond you to knowing you have it in your hand. Even writing this is making me a bit emotional – and I say that as a farmer’s daughter and there’s not a cow in sight.

So, in case it helps you, here are the things that Geoff taught me that I have carried with me ever since:

  1. Don’t ‘act’.
  2. A convincing performance is not about tortuous psychological struggle but about engaging in the story, moment by moment.
  3. The success of your performance is measured in how you are affecting those around you – the other actors and the audience.
  4. Understand where negativity (yours, as an actor) comes from (especially if it’s from you) and learn what to do with it.
  5. Seek out the good people and hold on to them by being one of the good people.
  6. Listen to those you trust and act on what makes you feel good.
  7. Listen to those that need you and act on what makes them feel good.
  8. Share your experience with as many people as you think need to hear it.
  9. Tell the people who can help you about the things that are stopping you moving forwards.
  10. Don’t overthink. Never overthink.
  11. Get up and do it again. In the moment, later, alone, with people. Repeat.
  12. Remember ‘bloody’ is swearing.
  13. Drink only really good hot chocolate
  14. If someone stares in your window, wave.

The last one might be a metaphor. Depends on how pretentious you think I am.



DOWN TO ZERO Commissioned by Coracle and Alphabetti Theatre

​”I’m slipping away and I don’t know what to do…”

Directed by Matt Jamie

18 – 29 June 2019

at Alphabetti Theatre,


Down to Zero is an emotionally explosive,  darkly funny new play by Lizi Patch about two people, furiously in love, struggling to stay afloat as the past threatens to sink their future. 
“In the eyes of evolution I am now a pointless person.”
As Steph hits the menopause, she feels she is becoming a bystander in her own bewildering decline.  Her partner Sam plans a surprise weekend away for her 50th birthday, but their determined idyll is ripped away by the arrival of a surprise visitor…


Production Notes: Women in Theatre

​For this production Coracle have chosen to produce a selection of work by women over the age of 40 – a group underrepresented in the world of theatre.

“Writing plays is, on the whole, a young person’s art, and the young are mostly interested in themselves”

 Lynn Gardener, 2009  (link).  

Work by women playwrights made up only 8% of staged productions in 2014 (research by Tonic Theatre) – and the first play written by a woman to appear on stage at the National Theatre was in 2008.  And the National have come under fire in 2019 for their announcement of a season which has only male writers and directors, despite a ‘commitment’ to changing the balance (you can follow the twitter thread here)

“It is somehow harder for people to embrace a play written by a woman, whatever its quality. There is something slightly unseemly about filling stages with our voices, whereas men have a sense of filling Chekhov’s or Ibsen’s shoes. The woman who raises her voice becomes shrill and hectoring; the man becomes authoritative”

(Zinnie Harris) (link)

“I think older women are regarded as not valuable, they’ve always been thought of in that way, as something to laugh at.”

(Marianne Elliott). (link)

More details on the response pieces to follow soon.

Leeds Actors in Training Greenlighted for Second Year


I Am England by David Lane. Photo: Maria Spadafora.

After a brilliantly successful pilot year and thanks to funding from the Emerald Foundation, Wade’s Charity and Leeds Inspired Amongst I’m about to launch the second year of Leeds Actors in Training in collaboration with the Leeds Grand Theatre.

LAIT is unique in Leeds as it gives 18 – 25 year olds the opportunity to access actor training of the highest quality under the guidance of theatre professionals also working in the industry.

We already have Rod Dixon, Artistic Director at RED LADDER and Nickie Miles-Wildin, currently Resident Assistant Director at the ROYAL EXCHANGE, MANCHESTER booked as guest directors next term.


LAIT has been fundamental in my acting training this year; it has allowed me to my balance essential training with work and auditions. There is very little else out there for young actors trying to make their first step into the industry. LAIT one of a kind.


“Blown away by the quality, didn’t expect it.”

“We were completely gripped from start to finish and thought that it was brilliant.”

“Really enjoyed this performance. So relevant to the times we are living through. David Lane has done a great job and so has Lizi Patch. The actors managed to strip out most of the acting and get to the core of the characters. A great evening – thank you”. KAY MELLOR

Rachel Lythe, Head of Learning at the Leeds Grand:

“We are delighted to be working in collaboration with Lizi on the Leeds Actors in Training (LAIT) programme at Leeds Grand Theatre. Once young people have participated in youth theatre and thrived in the creative safe spaces that they provide, ex youth theatre members were telling us that there isn’t much opportunity to progress into advanced training and bridge the gap between youth theatre and drama school. LAIT was established to address this need and provide an opportunity to work with industry professionals under the expert guidance of Artistic Director Lizi Patch, to develop their craft, enhance their portfolio, prepare for auditions and have the space to explore whether they would like to work in the arts industry.

As part of our Creative Engagement Programme, Leeds Grand Theatre aims to increase access to opportunities for diverse young people to gain skills and enter the arts industry and we were really keen to collaborate with Lizi on this new venture. We’ve worked with Lizi for many years as Artistic Director of the City Varieties Youth Theatre and her passion, professionalism and wonderful approach to nurturing the skills and confidence of young people was a key factor in this collaboration. Lizi is a fantastic role model; she is able to balance her own professional work alongside training young people and offers a real insight into the working life of an artist. LAIT is run with thanks to the support of the Emerald Foundation, Wade’s Charity and Leeds Inspired”

If you are interested in joining Leeds Actors in Training and would like to find out more CLICK HERE. 

I Am England by David Lane photo: Maria Spadafora.

I Was Asked For Some Advice On Being An Actor…


The best advice I was ever given was ‘if you’re in a new cast and no-one seems to be a wanker – then it’s probably you’.

As artists it’s your job is to make trouble. Stick the world under a microscope, shake stuff up… but to do that you have to listen as well as shout, you have to be humble, you have to quietly put a story together from as many perspectives as you have the time and the patience to give it, and then you have to tease out what’s important to YOU and what you want to say about it… oh, and you have to decide who you are talking to. A story about Brexit and Trump is going to resonate very differently with a class of 8 year olds, pensioners in a day care centre or people like you. Do you only want to talk to those who already agree with you? And if so what are you saying? If not, what are you saying? Why? Who cares? Literally? And why should they?

As artists you have to give yourself the best possible chance of expressing yourself in the way you want to, to those you want to listen. That’s the bottom line.

You need to be able to walk into the performing space and trust yourself to tell the story that you want to tell – to move, shout, whisper, sing, sign, mime – however you decide to tell the story, you want to know you can express chosen narrative, character, emotion, nuance, because – as the cliché goes – your body is your tool. Everything you do matters when all eyes are on you. The words ‘passionate about my art’ are thrown about, but the truly great actors are generally full of humility, they are fascinated by people (building relationships), endlessly picking over the bones of the world, dismantling it to see how it works and putting it back together in myriad ways.

We are drawn to people who care, we instinctively know when they are genuine, we know when they are interested in us, but all too often we have a pretty polarised view of the world because it’s easy to streamline our timelines into something that resembles us, what we agree with, and it’s all too easy now to lose the riches of difference.

Artists need the riches of difference and infinite energy to argue. But it’s also good to stop and reflect and sleep.

So, listen to the news (but question what you hear and see), follow people on social media who you don’t agree with (and don’t just shout them down, silently or otherwise without knowing why), read books and plays and poetry (yes, try some, even the pretentious stuff) that you wouldn’t normally choose (you never know…), strike up conversations with people who catch your eye when the opportunity comes (the times I’ve done this and never regretted it, no lie) and ask questions and REALLY LISTEN to the answers. And then ask more questions.

And DO NOT spend too much time with those who don’t ask questions in return.

Basically, avoid being high on disapproval and low on self reflection (I read that somewhere and liked it), decide what you want to say, who you want to listen and how you are going to make them care about it. And make sure your voice and your body can translate your vision.

And do not spend any more time than you have to around egotistical, power hungry wankers. Seek out the good ones. Be one of the good ones.








Leeds Actors In Training is Launched




I’m very excited to announce that I am heading up Leeds Actors in Training (LAIT)  –  a brand new pilot project being run in collaboration with Leeds Grand Theatre offering 18 to 23-year-olds a highly practical pathway to a career as a professional actor.

LAIT gives young adults the opportunity to access actor-training of the highest quality with support and insight from professional directors, actors, movement specialists, vocal coaches and producers across the year. LAIT is designed to develop participating young artists vocally, physically and imaginatively, encouraging an independent and in-depth approach to work. For some years now I have wanted to provide high quality and meaningful actor training to young adults who are between school and further education/the workplace. Passion and a good publicity photo will only get you so far in this industry. In my experience, to truly succeed, an actor must be skilled and committed with a strong grip on reality. A thick skin, good work ethic, generosity, imagination, tenacity and an interest in human behaviour are also vital.

At LAIT, we will provide a supportive and vibrant space to help aspiring actors unlock their potential, develop skills, get a foot in the audition door and move to the next phase of their training/professional life with confidence and their eyes wide open.


Auditionees will be required to perform a monologue (classical or contemporary) and take-part in an hour-long group workshop and individual interview. The auditions will end with a group Q&A session so come armed with any queries you may have.

I will be running the auditions along with Ben Burmann, a professional actor recently seen as ‘Hot Tony’ in Emmerdale (2015-2017) and currently filming “Another Kind Of Love” directed by Jack Grewer. A dark urban drama for Netflix, set in the north. Recent theatre credits include Northern Broadsides (Merry Wives and King Lear) and Cast (Kes).


LAIT will be split across three terms. Term one will focus on The Actor; term two, The Actor and the Play; and term three The Actor and the Industry.

Run over 30 weeks, LAIT will meet every Tuesday night at Leeds Grand Theatre from 6-8.30pm.

Fees cost £450 per year-long course (bursary places are available upon application)



I originally studied as an actor at the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama. I am currently the Artistic Director of the City Varieties Youth Theatre (2012 – present) where I direct and produce up to seven shows a year with 60 young people aged 8-17-years-old.

In 2016 I wrote, produced and toured my own Arts Council funded show, Punching The Sky, a collaboration with partners the Lowry, Live Theatre and West Yorkshire Playhouse, ending at Soho Theatre in London as part of A Nation’s Theatre Festival. 



I have also written for BBC Radio 4: I was a guest writer on their long running series Brief Lives, produced by Gary Brown (BBC Radio North). I have also been Script Writer for the Child Friendly Leeds Awards for the past three years, creating and writing the scripts with the young presenters, Guest Writer and Director for the Carriageworks Academy in Leeds, Freelance Animator for Woldgate College in Pocklington, Founder and Artistic Director of Raised Eyebrow Theatre Company/Raised Eyebrow Youth Theatre, Freelance Project Director/Writer for All Change Arts in London, Education Director for Y Touring Theatre Company in London and Education Officer for Polka Theatre For Children in Wimbledon.

I am also on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Youth Theatre.

For more information and to download an application form visit or call Hannah Johnson, Arts Administrator, on 0113 297 7042.

The Princess in the Basement

A daft story about a daft story that makes me very happy in this world where we feel we’re not at all in control of the story any more.

CVYT 8-11

Sometimes – most times in fact – my job makes me very happy.

Being half a century old, unknown outside Leeds in the theatre world and too skint to have made any provision whatsoever for impending old-dom might seem like the very definition of ‘unsuccessful’ in my chosen career.

But these three facts are the very reason I have such creative freedom, as no-one is breathing down my neck, no-one else sets my agenda, no-one cares what I do (in the best possible way), because the decisions I make are mine to make and the people who ask me to do work for them tend to trust me – which they’re right to do – because it’s impossible to stagnate when surrounded by 8-21 year olds and freelance artists at the top of their game who measure a large portion of their creative satisfaction by enabling young people to thrive. [1]

During the Summer we were rehearsing the the Addam’s Family with the entire City Varieties Youth Theatre in the Leeds Grand basement, and during one of the sessions with the 8-11’s we started, as we always do with ’10 second news’ – which everyone sticks to, except me, as I get over-excited. One of the kids asked me where I lived and I said ‘here’.

Them: ‘What, in the Leeds Grand basement?’

Me: ‘Yup – no point me going home – when you’re all gone I get all the props and costumes out and re-live bits of our shows’

More voices: ‘Really?’

Me: ‘Yup – I live under that chair there’

Even more voices: ‘Honest?’

At that point I had to admit I was kidding… but what spun out from there was a tale where collectively the group started imagining what it would be like if there was a girl in the basement – a Princess (Trésemme) who’s hair grew and grew and she visits BARBER Striesand (GEDDIT?!) who fashions it into a mohican containing two pet giant headlice (Trevor and Tim) whilst Trésemme sings ‘I Need A Hairbrush’ (to the tune of I Need A Hero).

When the (inevitable) passing Prince (Dandruff) leans in from street level and climbs down her stiffened mohican she hits him with a can of hairspray for assuming she wanted to be saved.

Oh, and her mum – Mother Hairspray – turns up at some point and sings ‘You’ve Got To Be Fake To Be Real’ whilst everyone does the Charleston.

The ending (and much of the plot) is a well-protected secret…

Clearly the rehearsal had been ambushed by our collective delight at a story that had to happen – so we spent the rest of the session devising bits of the story and all agreed it was a right LARF.

Except we couldn’t stop thinking about it – every session the subject would come up and eventually it became clear that the play had to happen.

So it is. I’m fashioning their ideas into a script over Christmas and we’re going to put it in front of an audience in April in… the basement of the Leeds Grand…

How meta’ as one of the older group observed.

I’m telling you this because there’s so much stuff in print that is making so many of us feel really really crap. These kids have had an idea and asked if it could happen and we said ‘yup’. It’s daft, it’s making us all laugh and it’s EXACTLY what is required.

So this is why I love my job.

And you can come and see their story in April if you fancy it.

Just for the hell of it.

[1] (Props to Dawn Holgate, Aron Kyne, Sam Dunkley, Bobak Walker, Richard Priestly and – new this term – Akeim Toussaint Buck)

CVYT 8-11


Epilepsy and Loss of Innocence


“I found myself relating to it all as my son has had his innocence stolen too but not by porn by epilepsy.”

After our final show of Punching The Sky at Seven Arts, Leeds I received this email from a Mum – Jane –  who’s son developed epilepsy when he was 16. She and her son are happy for the email to be shared. I was going to include it as part of a blogpost about the emails the show has prompted, but I feel this email warrants it’s own post.

It’s one of a number of emails I’ve received from parents who relate to the themes in the show and have been able to have some honest two-way conversations about difficult stuff with their son’s and daughters as a result. I love that this show prompts conversations that matter, that’s basically all I wanted to do when I set out on this road…

Anyway, here are Jane’s words… I must admit I was reduced to tears. 

Hello Lizi,

My name is Jane. I have never done something like this before, contacted an artist but I can’t get past the urge to so please feel free to ignore me!

I came with my son to see the play after he had seen it for AS drama and been blown away by it. I too was blown away by the play, for all the reasons that my son had been but then some more.

I found myself relating to it all as my son has had his innocence stolen too but not by porn by epilepsy.

A year ago when he was 16 and preparing for GCSE’s he started having weird moments when he seemed absent (not easy to diagnose in a teenager!) then it developed, he would grunt, swear, shout out and clench his fists and face.

It was a horrible scary time for him, his sister and us with it developing into full seizures.

I related strongly to your story of a mum who would do anything for her child die, kill… I wanted to be ill for him. How cruel that I had got him through jabs, scraped knees, primary school, friendship issues and now this horrible thing was taking the confident young man and messing with him.

We were at a point where he could be out late and we trusted him to be home safe. Spontaneous party? Sleep over? Fine just let us know when you think you will be home. Not anymore. Have you got your pills? Have you eaten? Don’t drink, please…I know I am nagging. Why couldn’t it be me? I have had my fun, my drinking days are done, I want to eat well and sleep lots!

Maybe it sounds dramatic saying it was a loss of innocence for him. I just hated seeing him battle against it, he didn’t want anyone to know, but when he was doing it in a supermarket how could they not know? School had to be told, he stopped looking for summer jobs…we went on holiday he couldn’t be alone in the pool or swim in the sea. If he dropped a shampoo bottle in the shower we would burst in thinking he was having a seizure.

He is now medicated and stabilised it’s been a long year. I am so very very proud of him but feel I almost have more moments of sadness reflecting on it and processing it. I loved that at the end of the play you let us get to know Arthur as a boy not as a victim. That was for me as powerful as any other part of the play. It tipped me over the edge a bit as I remembered being stood in my son’s hospital room watching him fit continuously for 15 minutes as doctors injected him, cleared his airways of vomit and nurses tried to hold him on the bed… all I wanted was to tell each of them about my son, how funny he is, how kind, how moral and caring he is. I wanted them to know him not just see him as a blank faced body. I felt that it what you did with that last scene.

If you have read this far, thank you. Thanks as well for an amazing play that shared a message that needs to be shared loud and clear. Thanks for showing the vulnerability of boys growing up in such a confusing world. Thanks for being a real life human mum who swears! And finally thanks for letting me waffle on.


“I loved that at the end of the play you let us get to know Arthur as a boy not as a victim. That was for me as powerful as any other part of the play.”


RE:REVIEWS Punching The Sky Northern Tour

I have three online reviews for Punching The Sky (links below), which is great and – whilst I don’t agree with some of the points made – this is their own experience of the show and therefore, something to think about. I have asked for and welcomed feedback for this very personal piece of theatre – from my nearest and dearest, from the press, the media, the wider public, the inevitable trolls and even the tunnel-visioned, misquoting, king-of-out-of-context-rants religious zealot Ray Comfort.

The reviews have been written by men, so, in the spirit of balance, I have asked for some reviews from women who have been to see the show in the various Northern Venues.

Here are their words:

Punching The Sky (photo by Adam Robinson Photography)

Lizi Patch “Fifa can FUCK OFF”


Helena Law (Co-ordinator for a team of architects): Lowry Theatre.

Punching the Sky struck me for several reasons. I am not a mother and I honestly didn’t expect this piece to resonate with me as strongly as it did, at different points I laughed, cried and was angry. From the moment Lizi Patch said ‘fuck’ when faced with being left with her baby in her living room; I was hooked by a narrative which was more real, honest and unafraid to present flaws than I have previously seen. We were presented with a Mother who would die for her children, who recounted every tiny detail of childhood scenes with such care and who was also devastated that Coldplay had become her son’s ‘song’!

By taking the time to build up childhood stories and Lizi Patch’s character I found myself dreading more and more the point where we heard about the catalyst for this play. The visuals, sound bites and at times caring, at times quite fierce interactions between the three actors built up to what was a beautiful and heartbreaking retelling of Lizi’s son’s experience online.

Yes, we didn’t get to see the clip, yes we didn’t hear an all out explicit argument for or against porn and yes – we didn’t hear how her son was in the months that followed. I have to admit at times I wanted to know if there was a happy ending but I think the piece was much more powerful in its avoidance of this. Later in the evening, I was typing a message to my friend on Facebook and I paused. I thought about all the anecdotes, jokes and clips throughout Punching the Sky that had almost imperceptibly presented me with a spiders web of opinions, ideas and emotions and that’s when I realised just how clever this piece is.

Emily Dowson and Milton Lopes

Emily Dowson and Milton Lopes

Emma Gordon (Lecturer, Leeds Grammar School): The Carriageworks, Leeds

Lizi Patch tells a brave and personal tale of a mother’s fear when her little one’s innocence is threatened. She talks from the heart, with humour, spirit and imagination. As a parent, a teacher, an aunt, uncle, sibling, human, we can all relate to elements of the struggle to sift the cyber rot from the virtual insanity (and our own) when faced with a controversial issue and the hurt of someone we love.

Compassionate, insightful, innovative and engaging, I could listen to Lizi tell stories all day!

Punching The Sky (photo by Adam Robinson Photography)

Emily Dawson and Lizi Patch

Kym Kitching (development and alumni relations team at University of York.): The Carriageworks, Leeds

As a young woman who hopes to one day be a mother Punching the Sky rocked me to my core. Tackling such a sensetive subject the performance was brave, honest and brutally real. Lizi came across as a passionate parent trying desperately to make sense of how to raise a child in an increasingly ‘accessible’ world.


Lizi Patch

 Judith Kahn (Writer): Square Chapel, Halifax. 

Lizi Patch has written a very powerful and personal play about parenting today. It is autobiographical, and there is real power in this telling of a true story.

Punching the Sky asks questions about being a parent today, in the age of internet penetration of all our lives. The challenges of how to deal with bullying and the presence and accessibility of pornography are entwined in the play.

The delivery of the story has a light and deft touch which keeps the audience hooked.

It is an intensification of the age old questions

How can I parent my son?

How do I cope with my child’s experiences away from me?

How much can I/ should I protect my child?

And a more modern one :

Why does a woman asking questions provoke such misogynistic responses on the internet?

The play asks us to listen to our children, believe what they tell you, help young people cope with the difficult world out there. The play also makes it clear that there are no blueprints out there about how to get it right and that being a parent has lifelong consequences!

The technological and modern message for adults and children alike is that ease of access to the wider world causes us to be at greater risk.

The simple but clever staging and projection of images creates an intimate flexible arena, and the three actors play off each other with ease and grace – despite the fact I saw the first night, in a theatre they were only playing for one night.

Punching the Sky provides a great jumping off point for discussion, it asks important questions. It has no answers, but suggests we should keep on talking.


Lizi Patch. Photo: Adam Robinson Photography

Sophie Suttle-Marshall (Year 11 Student)
Before going to see Punching The Sky, I wasn’t too sure what to expect. Knowing Lizi, I knew it would contain elements of both comedy and drama but how much of either and the overall experience I would leave the theatre with..I had no idea.
After seeing Punching The Sky, I can say it does in fact incorporate an incredibly effective balance of funny and serious moments. It’s relatable to everybody and I, and everyone else watching that night, left the theatre feeling as if they’d learnt something extremely valuable about the dangers today’s society and internet usage can lead to.
I would recommend Punching The Sky especially to parents of younger children as I feel that it could really open their eyes to the life of other children and their parent’s experiences. It’s almost reassuring that nobody is born knowing how to be a parent and how children are throwing spontaneity at their parents all of the time. There is also the fact that if anybody else’s child were to go through this, or any other similar traumatic experience, they would have at least one persons perspective at hand. This could  potentially make the whole situation easier for both the parent and the child.




I was fascinated with this story. Not just because of the themes but also the way that human nature leads to so many of us grabbing hold of someone else’s identity and lashing it through the undergrowth.

When someone asks you for help you try to help – right?

So, when Lizi Patch asked me for help during the second stage of development of her production Punching The Sky, I offered my time and support.

Easy. Someone calls and you respond, positively and constructively.

But when Lizi called out for support on the most public and open platform in existence, The Internet, the response was deafeningly silent. She found no one and nothing to help her navigate the delicate, emotional and uncertain terrain of young children’s exposure to hard-core pornography.

When Lizi then dared to liberate her own voice about this, through her blog, then the silence was immediately broken and the floodgates opened with some genuine support and compassion but also a torrent of platitudes, abuse and a great deal of opinionated diatribe on the rights and wrongs of an uncensored, unmediated world wide web.

I was fascinated with this story. Not just because of the themes but also the way that human nature leads to so many of us grabbing hold of someone else’s identity and lashing it through the undergrowth. Working in the arts I’ve witnessed similar responses both personally and towards others, when the public decides that because you’ve dared to step into the limelight, you’ve made a pact with the devil and have to accept that it’s now open season – and at your expense!

Lizi’s very personal story highlighted for me how unsophisticated the debate is on pornography in the public realm. It also struck me that by daring to go further and creating a work of theatre from her troubling experience, she showed strength of character and a rare determination to find meaning amidst the chaos of people’s free and often hurtful appropriation – not of the issues – but of her! Of Lizi!

So when Lizi asked me to support the next stage of this journey, to co-produce and direct the production, I felt it was the very least I could do to stay with her, to see it through, to help shine a fine light in a forest of confusion.

And more than this – I wanted to be part of the conversation. With Lizi. With the cast, the venues and especially with the audience – but this time in a calm and respectful way.