Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Double Jewish Pregnancy

December 3 years ago I was standing in the foyer of the Baxter Studio welcoming one of our preview audiences into the theatre for From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach. A definitely Jewish woman and her teenage daughter were giving me ‘the look’. I was trying to think about whether I knew them, or whether they thought they knew me – Jewish geography is a complicated, lifelong story, with memory and family trees tied in with ferribles, cousins by marriage and even cousins of friends of grandparents long gone. As mother and daughter made their way past me the mother whispered, “You are Darren’s mom, aren’t you?” I knew exactly what she was talking about and I immediately said yes. Darren Nudelman is Tali Shapiro’s husband in Tali’s Wedding Diary, the local Showmax hit. I played Janice; Darren’s mother. It was a tiny part, but people responded to the well meaning but totally uncool Jewish mother.

So there I was, the director of a show about a wedding – From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach is the story of a Cape Flats meisie who meets and falls in love with a Joburg Jew-ish boychik, being recognised for a show about an outrageous Jewish princess and her wedding.

Well, beat me over the head with a dreidel if it isn’t happening again. I am lucky to be filming season 2 of Tali at the moment. The much anticipated Tali’s Baby Diary will be on Showmax at the end of March 2021 and I can tell you that it is kak funny; more Tali madness and beyond. Also, Janice has a bigger, and most delicious part in this season.

And then, on 7 December I go into the rehearsal room with Chantal as we prepare to open From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach – with Kids! on the 22 December. Here the impending arrival of a cross cultural kid causes much cross cultural comedy, for the audience who loved the first one, and those who missed it.

I am the most lucky.

 

Back in Action

My sleep patterns are completely out again. The dogs have no idea what I am up to. For three days this week we went for our morning walk at 6am. I have spent the week on set for the sequel to a lovely local series, soon to be on a streaming service near you.

And I feel like I have been brought back to life. Yes, we absolutely have been doing things differently. Yes, we wear masks and sanitise and use mouth spray. Yes the spectre of this dreaded disease hangs over us all. Our food packs are prepared for minimum contamination. Door handles are cleaned. Temperatures are taken. And then we go in front of camera and magic happens.

Not going to lie. Like everyone else, only more (my personal circumstances have been dealt a hideous and painful blow this year), we have all been held in a state of suffering suspended animation.

A couple of small and almost miraculous things have saved me from totally bleak darkness – the making of a fiercely independent movie in the deepest winter, the bits of improv we have managed to do on line, the revival of improv teaching in a course that was suddenly halted in lockdown, the release of The Big Bird Battle, and shooting this series have kept me alive.

Now I will be turning to the beautiful and original work of live performance. From the 2-5 December Louise Westerhout and I will be presenting/facilitating/holding our new ‘show’ Murmurations at Theatre Arts in Observatory. I think we will still only present to 15 people a night. Still, what a time to be allowed to create new ways of theatrical communion.

And then, the following week, I go into rehearsal with the gorgeous and talented Chantal Stanfield, for another sequel – this time From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach with Kids, which opens at The Baxter Studio on 22 December and runs through to January. Of course, COVID restrictions apply, but we are slowly creeping towards some kind of liveness in our theatres again, and I feel like I am coming back to life.

The Great American Trump Horror Festival

(A South African perspective of the American election)

It is the Sunday before the US elections and I am entirely over invested in it. I watch MSNBC on Youtube like a crack addict. I watch like I’m rubbernecking a multi-car pile up in slow motion. I watch with a Cassandra like gloom that nobody believed Trump could win the last time and the same people believe (with only slightly more fervour and commitment) that he cannot win again.

The reality, the sickening, gruesome, painful reality is that in so many states the race between pure evil and lies, and a caring human being is neck and neck. What this means is that there are people in USA who have, do and will vote for the sociopathic, idiotic, narcissistic, thieving, lying scumbag that Trump is. Why? Why would another human being choose evil? Why have Trump and his sycophantic, parasitic arse creeping team got this far? Why do the media, the legal system, the writers, the debate organisers, the advertisers buy in to the false notion that rules can be followed?

It is clear that Trump does not adhere to a single rule or uphold a single moral standard. He has said it himself. He is a racist, misogynist, derelict, abusive, violent, self serving dictator who has done nothing for the American people at large and has protected the interests only of the super wealthy and other world dictators. This isn’t a secret. This is what he has done. So why are people, however shyly, admitting to having voted for him again? This should not be a tight race. There should not be battleground states. There should not be cavalcades of Nazi reminiscent, armed and violent white supremacists driving through the cities. What the actual is happening there?

Yes, I know the Republicans have jimmied the elections with the electoral vote. Yes, I know that they have thrown massive stumbling blocks to force the election to go their way – post office debacles, ballot point reductions, threats of voter day violence, spreading the false threat of socialism (as if), but how could even the Republicans want this batshit crazy blot on their usual ‘moral code’ to win?

Trump has granted permission for every American who has had a fear, or a moment of greed, or deep sense of entitlement to be their absolutely worst selves, and many (almost half) have chosen to be this rather than to be a decent human being. And I am sickened by it.

My 2c worth? I think Trump is going to win this election, or steal it. He is not playing by the usual rules and nobody is challenging him. The system is already broken. Welcome to the Divided States of America.

Lost Property – a virtual, live, global connection

I could feel it in my body the whole week and finally, when Jaci de Villiers (friend and director), Zane Gillion (co-actor) and Gys de Villiers (hero and stage directions reader) met on Zoom for a rehearsal of my play Lost Property I freaked out. My technology was horrible (internet woes), I struggled with my glasses and the screen, I couldn’t work out how to sit, or what angle, and I was a proper mess. Our rehearsal dissolved and I was scared and horrified. What would happen on the day, Saturday, when we would do a live reading?

I really had to think hard about what was wrong. Of course, it was more than one thing, but one of the biggest things was that my body and heart were remembering and wanting to be in the physical world of Jersey City, performing live, at a live festival. That’s what was going to happen pre-COVID. The other thing, a big thing, is that the play is one of the most prophetic pieces of writing I have made and it does make me all strange and weird, but that is a story for another day.

Our rehearsal on Friday went really well – I had (temporarily it turned out) sorted out my internet connectivity, had given myself a big fat pep talk and I reminded myself why I wanted to do this work in the first place.

And so on Saturday at 6pm we went live. Yes I froze a couple of times. No, it wasn’t serious. Yes I had all the usual performer fears and nerves. No, they didn’t get in the way of delivering our connection, characters and intentions. And we performed our hearts out, on Zoom, at a virtual, international festival of political work. We had an audience. We had positive feedback. And it was amazing.

Obviously I still want to get to Jersey City to do a proper run. Obviously I would love to do a run in South Africa. But being part of this festival is amazing. A global, network of theatre and art people from all over has been built and brought together by artistic director of the Jersey City Theatre Centre, Olga Livina, and it is amazing. Check out the website. See what’s on offer. Free talks, amazing shows from around the world. Connect, engage, celebrate VOICES from those who struggle to speak, in politically ravaged countries from around the world.

 

Louise Westerhout perfect Partner in Rebellion

I am writing to introduce my dear readers to my new best thing; a friendship and collaboration that had its seeds planted in a mutual admiration circle BL (Before Lockdown), grew and sprouted DL (During Lockdown) and must/will endure beyond into AL (you guessed it). Louise Westerhout is an extraordinary being and we are similar and different in all the right places.

Louise is a yoga instructor, magic maker, divinator and tarot reader, Reiki master, curator, art manifestation maker, mother, rebel, path finder and chameleon comedian. She is also a vegan, human, model, mover, creature.

And we are cooking up a thing. From the 2 -5 December we will be presenting/facilitating/playing an hour long something called Murmurations and the rehearsal/play time/conversations we are having are some of the best things that have ever happened to me. Louise has hauled me out of a heartbreak space, personally and to do with theatre. I swore I would never get back onto a stage performing my own work, and she has delighted a path for me to really want to.

We meet and talk with wide eyes and lots of hands and jumping up and down. We plant ideas, blow them up, forget, reinvent, explore, and mostly take and make joy. A bit like those kooky scientists in Mythbusters who did whack job experiments on things.

Right now we have decided on a different theme for each night. This may change. But if it doesn’t it is going to be pretty wild. There will be stories. And garden furniture. And maybe a pool. And tea. And hula hoops. There might be make up and dress up. There will definitely be dancing. There may be tears. There will be an invitation to get to know the world a bit better in under an hour. Or not.

Right now we are inventors, inverters, exhibitors and deliberators. Our motto is everything is everything. In small and big letters. We challenge, console, ridicool and rejoice. We always ask, “Is this a wank?” but we don’t really know the answer, or even care. We do care about each other though. And ourselves. And those who will come. We are already in love with them.

You can book already for Murmurations here and you should probably. It is going to be another kind of a something.

 

White Tears Black Pain

I was part of a panel discussion on Facebum last night, on the Im4theArts platform. the title of the discussion was Racism – the culprit that makes the visible invisible. It was a heated and charged conversation. You can watch the whole thing here. https://www.facebook.com/yvette.hardie/videos/10158566989862604

I was surrounded by some of the most extraordinary and powerful women, Firdoze Bulbulia, Veronica King, Sibongile Mngoma, and one man, Thandile Petshwa, and I think we raised some sparks.

The profoundest moments for me were when the panelists were able to burst out with things that sat heavily on their chests. I realise how seldom that happens; that cordiality and politeness are usually adhered to in these ‘conversations’ and this often disguises the raw emotions of anger and pain.

I was not in the mood to let things go today. So not the best day to get into a Facebum comments war.

I have just finished a frustrating and immature ‘conversation’ on a Facebum thread where my friend Ashley Brownlee raised a few uncomfortable points about the Senekal farm murder and the response to it. I was taken on by a white male ‘I don’t see colour’ ist, and ‘murder is murder’ and ‘you don’t know how I grew up’ ist when I suggested that white pain is individualised and black pain is generalised and minimised. This man went from telling me I didn’t know what I was talking about, in his opinion, to whitesplaining, then mansplaining, then telling me to fuck off and have a nice life.

There is nothing more violent and painful than a white man whitesplaining the equality of pain. This is racism waving its supremacist banner from the volks monument. It is rainbowism, get over it, all lives matter and it is brutally triggering and painful.

Apartheid, colonialism, slavery and the genocides and oppression they brought has meant that pain sits differently for victim and perpetrator. White pain is individualised and black pain is generalised. This must be understood, acknowledged and taken into consideration by white people, because skin is advantage and oppressor. Until that happens there can be no demand that black people be empathetic. It’s ridiculous and preposterous. The oppressor needs to move, acknowledge, shift first. And on rural farms there is no movement and there hasn’t been in 27 years.

And a last footnote for the Facebum white peanut gallery. Just because a white person was not personally responsible for Apartheid doesn’t mean they don’t still benefit from being white. All black people are historically disadvantaged and are expected to follow white rules of individualisation to ‘get ahead’. This may not shift in our lifetime, but I hope it does. And the noise of its success will drown out your whining.

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