Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

The birthing of a new production

Yesterday was a rollercoaster. I held auditions. I find it as hard holding them as doing them. I have to put out an enormous amount of energy to get people to be their best selves and to have a good time. That’s important to me. I was lucky yesterday. I allowed my instincts to speak loudly and I had no doubts about the two people I cast for a fantastic play I will be directing really soon. Now that the decision is made, and my offer has been accepted, I am allowing my imagination to soar. I am in the space of possibility and dreaming into the ideas, the vision, the meaning, the flow. And I am so terribly excited to be directing somebody else’s writing.

Last year I met an extraordinary young woman, Sara Shaarawi, at the WPIC (Women Playwrights International Conference) held in Cape Town. I was assigned to her as a director to work on a staged reading of an excerpt of her play Niqabi Ninja, and I got very excited. I knew I wanted to put the piece on, but timing and other stuff and life got in the way, until the Rhodes Reference List protests reminded me of how relevant and important this piece is. I wrote to Sara and told her I was ready to try and put it on, and she sent me the latest draft. It is radical.

So, on 18, 19, 20 July we will be doing a showcase of the play at The Alexander Bar. I will be inviting some VIPs of the theatre world (in Cape Town) because this piece must be seen, and appreciated, by as many young people as possible. And I am so, so excited. Save the dates, and come and have a look.

The mind-blowing, moving Sillage

1047_sillagenafsqrI must confess to having been equally intrigued and irritated by the title. Sillage. (Actually, not even spell check likes it, and tried to change it to Village.) I had no idea how to say it. Once I understood what the word meant – the degree to which a perfume’s fragrance lingers in the air when worn – I loved the idea of it, but I did find it pretentiously oblique. This can be dangerous for a title of a theatre piece. If people don’t understand it, they might not want to see it. It is pretty risky. But I am a hardened theatre goer. I put my big theatre pants on and off I went to the Alexander Bar to see this piece written and directed by Penny Youngelson and performed by Rebecca Makin-Taylor and Michelle Belknap.

And I was undone by it. It is the only expression that describes the quiet emotional landslide that this piece took me on. The plot is simple; a daughter comes back to her parents’ home to help her mother pack up and organise the move to downscale. The play is their relationship.

Now, it is no secret that I have a deeply complicated story with my mother, and this play was no reflection of it, but I was so engrossed in this dynamic, and felt so completely for both characters, it was like being the third person in the room; the one that was them both. As personal becomes political becomes personal the emotional ripples are both inward and outward, and I kept on wondering who I was, here in this world, in this country, in this city, in this suburb, in this age, in this house. I was taken.

The writing is superb, the direction is clever and beautiful and the performances are electric, magnetic, truthful and huge. I felt everything. Always. It was an hour of me being there, in it.

I have not loved much theatre this year. I have been the irritation of others because I have remained mostly unmoved by the work that has been raved about. But this. This Sillage, is the kind of theatre that moves me.

As far as I know it is on for three more shows this run, but it is going to the Gtown fest. Do not miss it.

A funny thing happened on the way to the theatre

This is a post written with a particular friend of mine in mind. Rudy has been a major influence in my life, not only because he has been in it since I was 18, but also because he has had a prescient knowledge of me, and my abilities, loves, hates and talents.

When I was at drama school he told me that I would make a good director. I was furious. I wanted to act. Nothing else would do. He told me to have this conversation with him again when I turned 40. I did. He was right. When I was 40 he asked me when I would become the teacher I needed to be. I was furious. I hate teaching. I only teach when I absolutely have to. It is my worst. He told me we would have this conversation again.

And yesterday, when I bumped into a student of mine from 12 years ago, I realised I had been doing this thing I hate, and loving it in secret, for a very, very long time. Granted, in the same free-lance style that is my usual life, but still, teaching, on and off for more than 20 years. I have also been realising, slowly, like a spreading blush, that I adore my current students (AFDA Live Performance honours students) even though I am not officially teacher, but more coach, facilitator, and kind of director. I am working with them on their workshopped production for the Grahamstown festival, and even though I do more than my fair share of complaining, I love them, and the work we are doing. Who would have thought?

So, I guess, as long as we don’t call it teaching, and it is all part of everything to do with theatre, and drama, I pretty much love it, along with everything else I love about theatre.It is scary how right you have been all along Rudy.

 

White 2

These last few days have, since the discovery of vile racist judge Mabel Jansen’s Facebook rant,  been particularly challenging for those of us who are trying very hard to negotiate this stuff. Twice today I had to physically turn off the radio because I couldn’t listen to first Redi Tlhabi and then John Maytham deal with the tempered voices of white racists who had absolutely no self awareness or even idea that they were that.

And what I am struggling with is the boldness of the declarations of these racists. Somehow, suddenly they are out there, proudly spewing this stuff, as if something has changed, and they are allowed to. Something has definitely shifted, and all those closet racists that were more private and careful, and got themselves into trouble accidentally, and were told off by family members at dinner tables, those racists have become louder, more shameless, more visible. They are all over social media like a cancer. They are on talk shows of every subject, tediously spewing their twisted vision of what needs to happen to whom, and demanding that they should be agreed with by the exhausted and desperate hosts.

It feels like we have tipped over. I had no idea that there were so many of them out there. So, so many that it makes the voices of likeminded friends a piss in the ocean. More than anything I realise how little we have achieved and how unsuccessful any transformation has been. Whites (in the main) are not budging, and worse, don’t see why they should.

And this terrifies me beyond imagining. I don’t know what to do. I am sick and shocked and scared.

Menstrual Moan

So in the last week or two I have had a couple of a twitter conversations with some people who have been trying to activate and motivate government to keep to their promise of giving free sanitary pads to female school goers. I have always been opposed to the free distribution of pads because I consider them to be such a terrible, expensive, environmentally destructive item, and because there are much, much better, less advertised solutions, like the menstrual cup.

I have written a lot about the menstrual cup in the past. It is a life saver. It is a once-off expense, totally easy and safe to use, easy to keep clean, and mostly, completely liberating for women, who are then not beholden to a mega rich and exploitative industry for most of their lives.

I have always felt the deep frustration of how this brilliant product gets sidelined, particularly from an advertising point of view, in order to keep sanitary pads and tampons in business. This is a David and Goliath scenario, with women the foot soldiers.

So, yesterday I saw on twitter that the SA government had handed out menstrual cups at a school and I was so excited. I immediately retweeted and congratulated them. This felt like such progress. Yes! You would think so, right? But. In minutes I had two men questioning the safety and health of menstrual cups. Let me repeat that. Men demanding to know whether the menstrual cups had been tested. Whether there was a risk of infection. Asking me, a woman, to provide them with that information. My head nearly burst straight off my shoulders. Men saying that pads were better.

If I was a conspiracy theorist I would have thought that they were from Tampax or Maxi or whatever other huge billion dollar company is out there, their point of view was so despicably derisive. Just like the nay sayers of clean energy alternatives who own the coal mines.

I am going to need all the help I can get to fight this battle. The government needs to be praised and celebrated for this move. Let’s beg them to do it more, and often and all over. Pads will be bought and used and tossed. Menstrual cups can last a lifetime. And men who don’t like them or don’t trust them don’t have to use them.

PS. I am so curious about how many females have shares or are CEO’s of feminine ‘hygiene’ products. I suspect there are very, very few.

A terrible Mothers’ Day poem

In the weeks building up to this fake

Because I can’t feel it

Day

Mother’s Day

I get twitchy.

I am not a mother

from a birth canal trip point of view.

My motherhood was stopped in its tracks

by a bad romance bad choice bad guy decision

And some breeze way furniture that my own mother

really needed at the time.

In the weeks coming up to the first weekend in May

With pink hearts and soft flannel advertising

I get itchy and scratchy and mean.

And the longing and loneliness I feel

Is not for the children I never had to call me mom,

But for my own mother

to own me as her now grown child.

And people will call me spiteful, and wilful and cruel.

The woman who lives, and is lonely and sad

Is my mother. Surely a kindness from me will soften everything

And make things rosy?

But, the Mothers’ Day restaurant offers, and special spa deals, and discount body cream sets, and floral printed soup mugs, and twenty roses delivered, and lacy underwear, and fluffy warm slippers, and tanzanite jewels (last year’s fashion on sale), and friendship rings and Lindt chocolates in re-purposed Valentine’s Day hearts

Make me sick.

 

 

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