Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Joburg Nights

The window is open and the cricket is so loud its like a one cricket band on steroids. I love Jozi at this time of year when everything is lush and green and the summer heat is tempered with rain on most days.

I am up here directing Chantal Stanfield in her one woman show From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach, opening at the Auto & General Theatre on The Square. It previews on 28 Feb and opens on 2 March, and even though we have just started rehearsing this week, I can already tell that it is going to be so lovely. When I suddenly have a waterfall of ideas (most of which will never manifest and be in the final result) I know I am operating in my creative space and it is delicious. It’s also that time when I find things on the rehearsal floor achingly (and repetitively) funny, and my cheeks are sore after every session.

It is interesting working in a space that isn’t my home, and I seem to have lost any small ability to multitask (let’s face it, I don’t have much ability to start with). Everything feels different. Space and travel and timing and food and even the air is different from home. Here I am loving other dogs (missing my dogs), walking the aisles of unfamiliar supermarkets, driving a different car. It’s like I have swopped my life for someone else’s.

This is the second Jew-ish themed piece of work I have done in the last while (I performed Mother in The Finkelsteins are Coming to Dinner; a show I am dying to do in Joburg, hopefully still this year). For someone who is reluctantly Jewish as I am this is hilarious. And we are rehearsing in a pretty Jewish neighbourhood too. All my Jewish radar is on high alert. When you are looking for it, Joburg can be pretty Jewish. I keep having the urge to tap into my ancient Jewish network, to insist they come and see the show.

Whenever I come up to Joburg (my hometown) I am split between wanting to live here and in Cape Town. The urges for both are so strong. This is definitely second prize though; if I can’t live here and in Cape Town at the same time at least I can come up here for a couple of weeks at a time for work.

And, if you are in Jozi you can come and see what I’m doing. Let’s hook up.

 

 

Improv for my life

For those of you who know me you know that I love directing theatre, performing plays and writing them, but my big love, if I were forced to choose, is improvising. I am the happiest and luckiest when I am making things up, especially in front of an audience. I have been very clever about living my dream. For the past 24 years I have been doing this almost every week, in some form or another. I remember thinking, when I was in my 30s that there was an age limit to this form of play, but I haven’t stopped and I love it more all the time.

Last night we practiced a new format that we’ll be ‘premiering’ at ImproGuise‘s fifth annual improv festival (can you believe we have done 5 improv festivals?) that takes place at my favourite Alexander Bar from 6 to 11 March. This new format is called Tribute and how it works (kind of) is that the first half is the back story of the band or musicians we are paying tribute to, and the second half is the tribute band playing their songs. Everything is made up. For those of you who know me, singing is not a strong suit of mine, but I love it nonetheless, and I will be belting it out with the best of us. I cannot wait.

Every single of the five nights is a different format, and the Alexander Bar is teeny, so you should start booking for the ones you definitely want to see.

Also starting in March is our new Improv for Beginners training course. I haven’t been involved in the teaching or running of one of these for a bit, and this year Tandi Buchan and I will be doing it together. It is also another favourite thing of mine to do. If you are keen, please email Tandi on tandibuchan@gmail.com for info on dates, times and costs. This course will change how you do life, and it is for everybody, so come and play.

AWPN, Niqabi Ninja, New Stories

AWPN. African Women Playwrights Network. I don’t even know where to start with this post, and I know I am going to leave out vital parts of what ended up being an extraordinary weekend of African women theatre makers making a very special kind of noise.

About two years ago I signed up to a very basic website/group called AWPN, added a terribly simple bio, visited the site a couple of times, and then forgot about it completely. A lot happened in between, and then Amy Jephta, co-creator of the network, contacted me to find out if we would consider performing Niqabi Ninja at this small symposium that AWPN was hosting. There was an extra edge to it because the playwright of Niqabi Ninja, Sara Shaarawi, was one of the playwrights selected for publication in an anthology of African women’ s plays, and she would be coming to the symposium, from Scotland. This would also be the first time that Sara would see our production of the play (or any production of it). Of course we agreed.

The AWPN took place this weekend, at my other theatre home, the Theatre Arts Admin Collective (without which I would not survive). And it was the most extraordinary weekend. We discussed, we debated, we raged, we committed, we connected, we told stories, we met each other and fell in love, we passed on information and gossip, we networked and shared each others’ stories, and we witnessed Niqabi Ninja all together (a complete brain and heart explosion for me and the ninjas Loren Loubser and Bianca Flanders). We met and joined hands, hearts and voices from Cameroon, Egypt, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, KZN, Gauteng, Free State, Robertson and Cape Town.

I was lucky enough to attend every session and I am richer, wiser and more passionate than ever about my craft as playwright, my job as director, my love as performer, my heart as storyteller. I am also reinvented as a woman at all of these things (although I should have known I was, from the beginning, right?).

Amy and Yvette Hutchinson organised a tiny miracle that took place in Observatory this weekend and I am still glowing.

(I also love this pic I took on my phone of Ayanda watching a performance by Mothertongue Project)

Niqabi Ninja in a New Age

Yesterday we got together for our first pick-up rehearsal for Niqabi Ninja; we are performing at a little symposium next weekend and we haven’t looked at it for a while. We did a read-through, and then we stumbled through a run, reminding our bodies, minds and hearts. It was a very fresh and intense experience and the words and meaning of this play were sharp.

What added to my deeply felt experience was the fact that this was a new era, a new time, with sexist misogynist, the orange man, president of the United States. The sexual harassment of women the world over takes on new meaning, and must be fought on a grander scale now. Our job as commentators, educators, art makers and theatre warriors is harder, and must be louder and more frequent.

Niqabi Ninja becomes our cultural weapon, and we will use it. Sara Shaarawi, Loren Loubser, Bianca Flanders, Caroline Calburn, we are an army.

2 Parrots and a Sandcastle

IMG_6968So, my way of starting the new year is with three improv shows at my fave Alexander Bar, this coming Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. I will be performing with a different improviser each night, for an hour of made up stuff, with no pre-plan or any idea at all about what we will be doing. I cannot wait.

The line up of performers joining me is unbelievable and I am so lucky to have these people to come and play, and fulfil my dream and first love, improv.

Tandi Buchan, AD of Improguise, our improv troupe, joins me on Thursday night. We have been improvising together for over twenty years now. In fact, Tandi is like my improv wife. We are so safe with each other, but still continue to surprise each other. Tandi is imagination. Tandi is a storytelling machine and brilliant characters. Tandi is Noel Coward and South African Soap. I love being on stage with her.

Friday night is Brett Anderson night. It is also the night of his birthday, so double celebration. Brett ‘take it and run with’ it Anderson is a different kind of partner in crime. Wordsmith, rhyme guy and creative punster, Brett gives me a run for my money with quick thinking and wittiness. I so enjoy being on stage with him.

On Saturday it’s Leon Clingman’s chance to join me. I have been waiting for a chance to share a stage for an hour with Leon. We really get each other as improvisers. With Leon I can take risks. With Leon there is conflict and drama and relationships. Leon is my improv husband. I know it is going to be interesting, and amazing.

I don’t want you to have to choose which night to join us. Come to all three. It’s cheap as bad gossip. R80 if you book online.

Super Crazy Mother Nature

Update: So, Big Friendly read my post, and went and found the leaf. Clearly I hadn’t looked hard enough. Look! Look.

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I was bestowed with a whole lot of plants when my dear friend moved up to Jozi last month. I love plants, but had been going through a lean patch in terms of indoor ones, so I celebrated the bestowal and have been enjoying the green company. My friend had been putting the plants in the bath overnight fortnightly, to soak up grey laundry water, so when I rinsed the dogs I put the plants in that water in the bath.

All was well and I took them back to their positions the next morning. Then yesterday I saw this.

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Something had come in the night, chowed their way through most of the plant, leaving tell tale poo on the chewed leaves. I could not find the bastard. Big Friendly was called to look and there was a cocoon under one of the leaves, see-through enough for me to spy a fat, acid green worm. I was incensed. Who the hell did it think it was and where had it come from?

I saw the plant this morning and it looked a bit worse so I went to inspect. Gone. The cocoon and worm are gone. And I do not know where. Nothing. No leaf that looks like it had cocoon on it, no evidence of a mortal battle. Nothing. And this all happened on the kitchen counter in my house.

So what I want to know is, where is it? Did something else eat it? Did it perform its transformation overnight and become a moth or butterfly that I haven’t met yet? Who buried the leaf it was cocooned on? Is it still in my house?

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