SLEEPLESSNESS

Three generations of Western Sydney women. Part-mystery, part-documentary, part-forensic investigation.

Sleeplessness is a quintessentially Australian story.

It’s the remarkable story of Lenke Palffy, a 1951 Hungarian immigrant who entered Australia as a woman. It’s also the story of Lenke Palffy, buried in 1984 in a Western Sydney cemetery as a German man.

Ultimately, Sleeplessness is the story we all undertake at some stage in our lives – searching for our own history, to make sense of our family, to understand ourselves.

From Budapest 2003 to Sydney in 2020, Karen Therese took on a profoundly personal 15-year journey to create Sleeplessness, uncovering family history, werewolf mythology, and the fascinating records of bearded ladies.

Fusing film, text and choreography, this acclaimed contemporary practitioner throws a fine light on the generational impacts of institutionalisation and migration.

Through piecing together the mystery of her grandmother’s and her mother’s lives, Karen Therese discovers her own truth.

Writer/Performer Karen Therese
Director Anthea Williams
Video Artist Zanny Begg
Choreographer Martin del Amo
Sound Designer Anna Liebzeit
Lighting Designer Karen Norris
Associate Artist/Stage Manager Patrick Howard
Producer PYT Fairfield


The creative development of Sleeplessness was supported by the Australia Council for the Arts, the NSW Government through Create NSW and Parramatta Female Factory Precinct.

Image Credit: Katy Green Loughrey