Onesize - the story of Procrustes

Official Poster ONESIZE

ONESIZE is a 15-30 min storytelling show performed by Pleun van Vliet, accompanied by live soundscaping from Sem Ten Haaf.

ONESIZE premiered at the the Amsterdam Storytelling Festival on November 6th 2021.

© photos by Alborz Sahebdivani

The Show

Is it possible to unconditionally love ourselves and others without cutting out from awareness our most painful flaws?

According to the story, thousands of pilgrims from all over Ancient Greece annually traveled the Sacred Way to celebrate the Mysteries of Demeter, Goddess of Life.
In passing the mountainous outskirts of Korydallos, they might meet Procrustes, who’d invite them into his tavern to take a rest in his iron bed. If the guests were too tall for the bed, Procrustes cut off part of their limbs. If they proved too short, Procrustes stretched them until they’d fit.

Procrustes has always been portrayed as a creep and an idiot. But we all violently subject the world, other people, and ourselves to ironclad ideals on a daily basis. His story therefore evokes a question we can all relate to on an individual and social, as well as a political and philosophical level.

ONESIZE analyzes the conflict between humanity’s search for enlightenment and our inability to tolerate imperfection to its heartbreaking conclusion: “I wish my heart were bigger. I try to stretch it every day”.

Pleun during performance of ONESIZE

The Making Of

early sketch costume

ONESIZE was developed in commission of the Amsterdam Storytelling Festival 2021. The theme of this festival was “Masks”. The assignment was to create a story around the theme, using an experimental, explicitly physical approach.

Pleun’s first idea was to take the body as a living masking event. In combination with research into the bodywork of Marina Abramovic, this resulted in a plan to tell the story of Procrustes while being gradually imprisoned by metal beautification objects: scissors, a nail clipper, braces, and an iron crinoline that would eventually be attacked by a chainsaw.

greek vase
Part of an Attic kylix portraying the Greek hero Theseus fighting Procrustes, ca 440-430 BC (collection British Museum)

However, the theatre did not want to take responsibility for that, so we dove deeper into the story of Procrustes itself. That got us thinking about reforming, deforming, and unforming; about perfection, equality, averageness, and the natural state of living beings we always presume, but never perceive.

Photo of making of performance "Onesize"
Photo of making of performance "Onesize"
Photo of making of performance "Onesize"
Photo of making of performance "Onesize"
Photo of making of performance "Onesize"

Another astonishing fact we stumbled upon is that the word “Korydallos” in Greek means “lark”: the little bird that sings when it takes flight. What a horrofic name for a heavily secured prison!

Photo of making of performance "Onesize"

One of the great surprises of the creation process was our finding that the town of Korydallos – where our villain Procrustes supposedly lived amongst other ancient gangsters – nowadays houses the biggest prison in Greece.

Photo of making of performance "Onesize"
Photo of making of performance "Onesize"

The several meanings and layers of the story, the lark, a prison’s bars, and Procrustes’ mythical iron bed all came together when Sem decided to experiment with a contact microphone, that – together with the choreography by Stefan – turned the bed into a grim and simultaneoulsy moving fellow storyteller on stage.

Photo of making of performance "Onesize"
Photo of making of performance "Onesize"
Photo of making of performance "Onesize"

Audience rating on a scale from 1-10 at the premiere in theatre Podium Mozaïek: 10.


Concept, text & performance: Pleun van Vliet

Sound design: Sem Ten Haaf

Stage direction: Stefan van Wieringen

Photography: Alborz Sahebdivani

Many thanks to: Barbara, Caroline, Harrie, Jochem, Kris Anne, Mimi, Richard

Booking Information

ONESIZE is performed by 2 artists: Pleun van Vliet (storytelling) and Sem Ten Haaf (live soundscape).

ONESIZE  is a 15-30 min show that is played without a break.

ONESIZE can be performed in either Dutch or English.

ONESIZE needs a playing area (preferably a black box) of at least 4 x 4 meters, a simple setup of lights involving a front and some backlight as well as three special spots (for the lights our plan can be adjusted to fit the stage we’re performing), a DI-box with a stereo input (2 x 6.3mm jack) at the right back of the stage connected to the soundmix table, and a small table for the soundscaping equipment (1 x 0,6 meters).

The performance includes 2 props that the performers will bring with them: the frame of a single, iron bed (2 x 0,8 meters) that needs to be able to be turned around in the available space, and a standing medicine cabinet with medical instruments. We also bring a headset with a transmitter and a receiver with XLR-output that needs to be connected to the soundmix table, a laptop, midi-controller, contact microphone, and a 1.5-meter 6.3 mm jack cable.

The sound designer should hear his own sound and the storyteller well. Depending on the situation, a separate monitor speaker might be needed in the back for the sound designer (please contact us for consultation).

ONESIZE is not suitable for small children.

The show does not lend itself for digital performance.

Upon request.

Prices for artistic performances include 9% VAT.

Prices for performances in the context of seminars and conferences include 21% VAT.

ONESIZE©2021 is an original and personal work, conceptualized and written by Pleun van Vliet.

By the Dutch Copyright Act (Auteurswet) copyrights for the complete text as well as significant, recognizable findings and parts of the text, and all kinds of visualization of the performance (including photographs and videos for promotional purposes) finally reside with MindTraveller.

It is forbidden by law to copy, distribute, print or publish any written transcripts, quotes from, or pieces of ONESIZE©2021, or photos or videos of its performances without written permission of the author.

For questions about copyrights of ONESIZE©2021, please contact the author via