Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Noah of Cape Town, A prophecy of Drought

In 2003 Graham Weir and I sat down to turn an idea for a story into a fully fledged, futuristic accapella musical, set in Cape Town in the near future. It took us two years to finish the writing and get something of Noah of Cape Town onto stage. This took the form of a cantata version as part of Artscape’s New Writing Programme. In the cantata in 2005, Noah of Cape Town was set in 2012. It described Cape Town as an arid landscape where water was so scarce what little of it had to be guarded by the military. Politicians were involved in hideous water scandals and the city had ground to a halt. There was an illegal black market for water. When we started fleshing the thing out once Simon Cooper had agreed to produce the full version we shifted the timeline and set it in 2020 because 2012 was too close.

The full, amazing premier of Noah of Cape Town took place in August of 2009, almost 9 years ago. As I write this we are 3 months away from Day Zero. The day our taps will be switched off and we will have to queue for 25l of water. The Cape Town we warned about in a fantastic, futuristic, dystopian ‘what if?’ has arrived.

We didn’t pull the theme out of thin air. We were worried about Cape Town and water scarcity. We saw what was happening with the migration of people to the city, refugees from the North, the expansion of Cape Town, the corruption of politicians and officials. We knew there was going to be a water crisis. And we knew this in 2003.

We cannot have been the only ones.

 

How to say it

From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach, Chantal Stanfield’s one-woman piece that I directed has just been extended for a week at The Baxter. Nothing could give me more ‘naches’ or joyful pride. This joy is brought home by me not having to beg, coerce or Chinese bangle (is that horribly un PC now?) anyone into going to see it. Crowds (mostly my abandoned tribe) of people have been flocking to see it, and have been doing the word of mouth thing that is more powerful than any advertising.

Although my job of directing and even ‘getting in’ to a new space is long over, I find myself drawn to the show every couple of nights, mainly to check in with Chantal because I know how lonely a one-woman show can be, but also to witness first hand the audience response to the work.

One of the benefits of directing work like this is that someone else is able to put across more subtly, kindly and persuasively, some of the strong opinions I have about being Jewish. Also, because Chantal tackles the subject from the outside looking in, she is able to make light of her observations, and it is this that the audience loves. Non Jewish audiences find the show a hilarious learning curve, while Jewish audiences are given an opportunity to laugh at themselves and see themselves a little more critically through an outsider’s eyes.

All of this in  great, true life, storytelling tradition. I am beyond delighted that this work is being so well received, thanks in part to Daphne Khun who began the journey with Chantal, and then to Nicolette Moses, who fought hard to have us at The Baxter.

You have one more week SlaapStad. Get your tickets now.

Drought


In the last couple of days I have received whatsapps and emails and Facebum messages asking me to write my objections to a water levy for us Capetonians, based on the value of our houses, and the rates and taxes we pay. Aside from the fact that Woodstock has had rate hikes only commensurate with the hideousness of most new developments in it, I remain committed to the idea of a water levy, asking people who OWN their houses to pay more for the privilege of running water.

I have made my disgust known with our local government’s handling of the water crisis. Every single element of this utter disaster can be laid squarely at their feet. The looming water crisis in the Western Cape has been known for decades, and government’s cavalier ignoring of the warning signs is virtually criminal. Their usual Jonny come lately, blame everybody else, punishing, threatening style has never been more obvious. They have blamed the citizens of the city, national government, the weather, influx of people to the province; you name it they blame it.

This local government has wasted money on ads where our corrupt mayor whines about showering in a bucket, without any of the irony that that is how the majority of people have been washing for their entire lives.

The depth of this crisis is only now starting to be uncovered, with discoveries that most of our bottled water comes from our severely depleted dams, farming using at least 80% of our scarce resources, and the knee jerk building of temporary desalination plants as effective as wearing protection after having sex.

I wake up every day in a slight panic about water, and Day Zero. It is not a joke. Every time I flush I am reminded of the hideous and inappropriate colonial fuckery we inherited from a water abundant thinking British system. Flushing waste into drinking water is like using DDT on our food. Sickening. Yes, this system is 100% terrible for our particular condition, yet no long term plans for different systems are even being considered.

But, water in South Africa still remains inconceivably cheap. And it is mostly those who can afford it who have the greatest access. By that I mean taps with running water, flushing loos, boreholes, washing machines, dishwashers. In properties owned by people.

So, simply, if you own your property you should pay more for the privilege of having water. Stop complaining about that part of the problem. Suck it up. And, instead of behaving like your corrupt and immature local government, be part of the solution, even if it is paying an extra R150 a month, at the most. Take a deep breath and think about who you are, and where you are, and how you live.

PS. Also, avoid the Water Shedding Cape Town groups on Facebum, unless you want daily access to the worst trolls, haters, blamers and idiots.

Thoughts on going into this year

I know I want to reinvent this blog. It is a kind of new year’s resolution without the fanatical resolve. I am already in the not fanatical stage. Maybe it’s because meganshead is 11 years old this month. That’s long for a blog I think.

Anyway.

What do we want to share in a blog? It has to be something longer than a Facebum status update, or a new, double length tweet. It has to be something that readers will come here for. Especially. Deliberately. On purpose.

Do people still read blogposts? I do, but very rarely. I usually get directed there by an announcement on social media.

I have decided that today I won’t announce this on social media and then see whether anyone swings by to look at it.

Please leave comments with thoughts. Love ya, mean it, bye.

Something Special – From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach


Today I stepped into the Golden Arrow Studio at The Baxter for the first pick-up rehearsal for Cape Town’s run of From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach, and as Chantal Stanfield started exploring the text in a new space I started chuckling, and smiling and even laughing out loud.

And then, unexpectedly I found myself with a frog in my throat, and I had to catch my breath and wipe a tear away, even though I knew the text by heart. I can tell you, I was taken aback – moved completely by surprise.

We had a divine reconnecting rehearsal and I left, still thinking about how it had had a profound effect on me. I have been trying to work out what happened, and I think I have a sense of it now. This little piece is a feel good story in the truest sense of the word. It is a love story, and a generous exploring of different cultures. It is filled with observation, and kindness and wonder, and humour. And it comes straight from the heart, straight to the heart.

I hope Cape Town audiences will love it. I do. We are on from 19 December to 6 January. Come, and then let me know what you think.

In the Presence of

Last night I went to see something quite transformational and spiritually injectifying. My ex student Melanie Aiff organised a sort of concert/gathering/jam/witnessing of creative live performance and music in which she was the thread, voice, word, move with all these other amazing people in the space (the totally transformed Theatre Arts Admin Collective).

She advertised it as Mel Mwevi Shares, and there was a lot of sharing. It was like being in her crazy lounge and reading her diaries (entries of which were played as a slide show on the big screen), while sitting on cushions on the floor.

She sang, performed poetry, spoke rambling personal stories, got outraged, introduced us to her friends (and some fellow performers) from Breaking Bread, a one woman organisation who takes care of and feeds the homeless and helpless of Salt River, Woodstock and Obz, and we ate delicious vegan food, and fell in love with Mel and her friends.

Mel is the easiest and most charming person to watch. Somehow she combines the deepest emotion with the lightness of touch, and sheer enjoyment, indulgence, arrow sharp point slash of intention, trivial tantrum are all combined to make everything she does real and meaningful.

We sat transfixed for two sets that lasted almost three hours and I (who can barely manage a 55 minute play) was happy to be there until the full moon rose again.

Now here is the thing. Mel Mwevi is a true artist. She is a goddess of the word, a siren of sound and a wizard witch of the performance space. She needs to be able to make and share in every crevice, corner and stadium of the world. She is unique and inspirational. She needs to be given lots of hard cash to do what she does, and to pay the troupes of people that will work with her. I know there are people who have managed to get this right, with patrons and crowd funding. So, people who have, or who know of people who have, please let her know how. I will connect you up.

PS. Photo stolen from Facebook. Taken by Jono Tait.

Page 1 of 253

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén