Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

The Worst Auditioner in the World

There has been something that has kept me giggling for 3 weeks. I haven’t been talking about it much because I have been preoccupied with Niqabi Ninja which is pretty harrowing stuff. Sexual harassment revenge stories are not for sissies. Now that Niqabi Ninja has opened, I want to tell you about why I have spent most afternoons these last 3 weeks giggling, laughing and guffawing my head off.

Nicola Date asked me to help her with her one woman piece The Worst Auditioner In The World. She did a trial run of it at The Masque earlier in the year, and next week on 28, 29 and 30 July she has a 3 performance showcase at Cape Town’s (and my) favourite small, experimental theatre, The Alexander Bar. Go here to book.

Nicola has written a hilarious little script, all based on her true experiences at auditions and castings. I know they are true because similar ones have happened to me. There is the casting for a cave person, the outrageous imaginary eating, swimming, sleeping, walking, dancing when something crazy happens, the implausible, unreasonable, the totally unimprovisable. There are the questions, the retakes, the hopes lifted and dashed. And our worst auditioner keeps trying; tail up, smile fixed, brain quietly doing somersaults at the things asked of it.

What fun laughs it has been playing with Nicola as we stifle our laughs and force ourselves to be serious while we work. Every time we see each other we add another silly thing which keeps us amused. Please come and look at this thing. And laugh with us.

Niqabi Ninja and every woman

NN by Nicky Newman - WEB-16Only 4 people have seen rehearsals of Niqabi Ninja so far. A 12 year old girl, a grade 12 female student, Nicky Newman the photographer, and a man (Jon Keevy, Alexander Bar theatre boss and lighting designer). The 12 year old told us afterwards that she knew all about things like (sexual harassment) that from school. The grade 12 student shared with me a private story about her own bad and harassing experience, Nicky shared some of her ‘harassment in Facebook comments’  stories, and Jon retold a story about the sexual inappropriateness of a man who lives in the same building as a friend of his. Something like this has either happened to you or to a woman you are close to. Those are the facts.

At every rehearsal one of us (and there are only three of us there usually) will have a story to tell, either about what happened to us on the day, or in the past. I have begun to realise that every single woman has string of sexually implicit incidents that embroider her life. Not every incident will make us feel like a victim, but that doesn’t change the nature of the incident. Women, and girls, are targets of this mostly under reported, under responded to sexual behaviour. And most men don’t really understand the range and breadth of it until they are told about it.

Niqabi Ninja reflects something of every single woman and girl’s experience at some point. It’s hard to swallow but it is undeniably true. Have you ever met a woman who has not been sexually harassed? Can you believe that?

Loren Loubser and Bianca Flanders, two unbelievable actors and amazing storytellers, remind me of different parts of myself. We are totally different in style, attitude, personality, background, age and experience. And yet, we have so much in common, mostly in the stories we tell about being women. And men, most of you need to hear these stories, just to know, to have the invisible made visible. We are ready to tell you.

Niqabi Ninja is on at the Alexander Bar on 18, 19, 20 July and 1, 2, 3 August. (The pic is another of Nicky Newman’s amazing photos)

Nicky Newman and Niqabi Ninja

I took advantage of exquisite photographer Nicky Newman today. I sponsor her a pathetic monthly amount on Patreon and I got a big reward in the form of a photo shoot for Niqabi Ninja. In my dropbox I have 23 of the most extraordinary, sensitive, hard-core, amazing theatre pictures I have seen in a very, very long time. I have no idea how I am going to choose from them. I am speechless. Here are three of my favourite favourites, at the moment. I am blown away. Nothing will sell this show as well as these. Here is a link to Nicky’s website too.

NN by Nicky Newman - WEB-8

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Niqabi Ninja – we need your help

NN font sample 2This post is a letter/press release/call for help.

Dear theatre lovers, fighters for causes, feminists, allies, survivors, and community members,

I am currently involved with a beautiful and important work, Niqabi Ninja, that I want to bring to your attention.

Niqabi Ninja is an avenging Superhero, born on the streets of Cairo, who is ready to seek out and avenge every single act of harassment she has experienced at the hands of men. She has a list, a record of injuries and a variety of punishments to mete out. Watch out men of Cairo. Niqabi Ninja has a score to settle, and she is coming after you.

Set in Cairo during the chaotic time of the Egyptian uprising, Niqabi Ninja is an extraordinarily beautiful play giving two actresses a chance to explore the range and complexity of harassment against women, and one woman’s ability to develop a response.

Niqabi Ninja is written by emerging young Egyptian playwright Sara Shaarawi, and directed by me, Megan Furniss, and performed by Cape Town’s rising talents Bianca Flanders and Loren Loubser. We have put this show together on zero budget and 100% commitment and passion.

The play premiers at The Alexander Bar on 18, 19, 20 July, for a showcase of three performances, and we have just heard news that we have an additional 3 dates on the 1, 2, 3 August.

I am convinced that this work, these outstanding performances, the subject matter and how it is presented, will speak to a wide audience in South Africa, but more particularly to a young, student audience. I am looking for advice, production skills, a producer and project management to get Niqabi Ninja to its biggest audience. I am open to all suggestions, possibilities and options. Please let me know if you are able to attend one of our premier performances. Let me know if you have ideas, contacts, suggestions, skills to share. The truth is, this is gorgeous work and I am terrible at anything besides the creative stuff. And share, share, share this post.

 

Knots in my Stomach

I can’t help it. I have knots in my stomach. Anxiety cramps, and occasional waves of nausea. I am not in Grahamstown and have sworn off ever going again, and still, I read reviews and recommendations, mainly on social media, and the panic spreads through my body like PTSD.

I can’t believe it was only three years ago that I was there. It feels like a lifetime since I made the decision never to go again, because I came so close to really dark thoughts then. But it wasn’t only the last time; there were others that were almost as bleak, dangerous and troubling for me. It is not my happy place and it is ok for me to know my own boundaries and limitations. It is ok for me to swear off going, and not to do it to myself. So, what’s my current problem, you are probably wondering? My brain and body haven’t forgotten. I have phantom festival syndrome.

Every review I read that speaks about the 15 audience members a brilliant cast and director played for makes me hysterical. Every show that talks proudly about full houses without a decent word of recommendation in a review gives me cramps. Every bit of painfully carefully worded self-promotion (to which I am no stranger, even this year, with a show I have directed at the festival) makes me read between the lines about how hard it is to get people to see your show. I am almost in tears just thinking about how unfair and horrible it is. Every well deserved Ovation Award that will come too late for those shows to capitalise on, every 1030pm slot, every freezing morning, every ill equipped venue, every heartbreaking brave face, every desperate flyer hand out, every dream deferred, every belief strung out to its furthest, every ache.

Of course, there are those that do brilliantly, and have the best time, and have enough money to eat every meal at the Long Table, and whose pre-sales are brilliant, and who don’t have to worry. And I am so glad for them. I was never one of them. And I can’t wait for this week to be over. I don’t want to feel this.

Dani and The Lion, Last Night at the Den

1199_IMG_4340I get bored during most live shows, even the first time around. There are very few shows I will watch more than once, and seeing a show for the third time is as rare as  hen’s teeth, or even as rare as Whale 502.

Last night I saw a 3rd incarnation of Dani and The Lion, performed by my best Daneel van der Walt, and new Leo piano man David Lubbe. It isn’t fair to say it is the same show I saw last year though, it has grown and developed and is even more mad, mesmerising, moving and completely hilarious. There are a few new songs, a magnificent new costume, a gorgeous new sign, and the show has an all round attention to detail that is utterly charming, strange and other worldly.

Daneel is extraordinary. Her voice. Her arms, her funny bone, her emotion, her mal kop. David Leo Lubbe is the perfect piano man. He is so complimentary he is virtually for free. Nicholas Spagnoletti, the director, has brought focus, fabulousness and attention to detail that make the show more direct and magnificent. And Nicholas is responsible for that sign. I love that sign.

To be honest, there isn’t a thing I don’t love in this show. I call this my best show. There have been others, but I can’t think of them right now. This is it. Dani and The Lion, Last Night in the Den.

So, after tonight it heads to Gtown. I am nervous that it isn’t going to be as well received as a Neil Diamond tribute goes down in that place, but that is my own bullshit and I want so badly to be proved wrong. If you have believed anything I have ever said about anything, believe me here. Best show.

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