Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Month: March 2011 (Page 2 of 3)

Theatre (in the District)

I went to see an amazing ‘seed of something’ last night at Theatre In the Disctrict, called Crowsong. It’s the mad manic brainchildseed of Jason Potgieter, Jon Keevy and James MacGregor. They say the piece is in its “first draft” stage, usually not a place for an audience to see work, but knowing this and then watching the piece was like having a magical door open into a crazy place/mind/stage/canvas/screen. In terms of production values and techno stuff I thought it was pretty tight actually! I can’t wait to see where it goes. It’s inspiring, and I had that best feeling of almost jealously wanting to work on some crazy shit like that.

Because it is quite openly a ‘work in progress’ I don’t want to say more about it, other than that it was a delight to be there. If you read this today you still have a chance to see it tonight.

One of the things that these guys did was totally transform the stage space. And all they used was brown paper! I love that. I love it.

I’m going to use the rest of this space to talk about the Theatre in the District.Whenever I go there I am struck by possibility. It fills me with the ‘imagine if I won the Lotto’ fantasy of what I would do there to turn the whole building into a performing arts centre.

There are so many reasons why I completely love that place. I first worked there teaching improv to CAP students, when the building housed CAP (Community Arts Project), and I didn’t have a car. I would walk from Vredehoek down to CAP through town and then through what was District 6. This theatre really is in what used to be District 6. Well, totally on the border of what used to be District 6 and Woodstock. The really gommie end of Woodstock (where the chunky parking cherie tells you that your car does and will get broken into unless she is right there to stop it from happening). Now I live in Woodstock, and I have a car. It takes me less than a minute to get there. It really is the theatre in my back yard.

I always rehearse work in on of the old ‘classrooms’ in the building. I love making work there. It has a sense of history. It has a sense of possibility. It has a sense of independence. Mostly, it gives me a sense of nostalgia. It reminds me of my old days in theatre, where you put together a string of dreams with sticky tape and conviction. You decorated it with second hand christmas tinsel, and took down the moth eaten velvet curtain to wear. Then you hung it up again to go behind. Those are the feelings I get when I go to Theatre In the District.

At night, walking through the bushes, next to the stone wall of the old chapel/now theatre, the magic creeps up on you. By the time you walk through the big door that is only opened when a show is on you are already in that other world.

The bar is my favourite “imagine if” space. Every time I’m there I fantasise about performers coming to the bar after every show in Cape Town, to hang out, moan about the critics, skinner about management, bemoan the lack of audiences. I remember Backstage, in town in the 80s. I remember Bob’s Bar in Kloof st in the early 90s, and Don Pedros. I think about staying there, at the bar, and stumbling up the road, full of theatre dreams.

Actors are really bad business people, and probably always will be. And the truth is, I’m still an actor in my soul, making me one of those extremely useless business people. So, my fantasy for Theatre in the District; a performance centre; with rehearsal and masterclass spaces full and active every day, offices humming with the admin of all things theatrical downstairs, a theatre that never has a dark night, and a home from-home-bar close enough for me to spit at from my stoep, will be a fantasy. But, I love thinking about it, and I do, every time I go to the Theatre in The District.

To contact the theatre for rehearsal space/stage space or info email Brian on notty@worldonline.co.za

This is a picture of a bit of the set from last night’s show. It is exactly that thing of tying two bits of string and a paper bag and building endless possibility.

Imagine

Howzat for a game!

Exactly five years ago yesterday Big Friendly and I left the house grumpy and depressed. It was about 1230 and we had to leave the Proteas, who were being taken to the cleaners by Australia at Wanderers, to go to Tandi’s birthday picnic at Deer Park Cafe. BF and I were sulky and woes. It was a foregone conclusion that the Proteas had lost. Sies. We got home later that arvie and turned on the box. I remember calling Big Friendly and saying, “Look, they’ve got the required rate and the current run rate figures mixed up!” But they hadn’t. It was right. The Proteas were right there, in the game. I remember my brother phoning. He had decided to go to Wanderers for the second half. I remember the crowd screaming so loudly I couldn’t hear a single word he said. The famous 438 game. And we had missed the whole middle section.

Yesterday Big Friendly and I stopped listening to radio 2000 when India were 197 for 1. We had watched the first 20 or so overs, when the Indian batsmen had taken the SA bowlers and fielders to the cleaners. Suffice it to say I was woes. We listened on the radio as the commentators predicted a score of 400, doubling what India had done in the first 30 overs. It felt like a lost cause for sure. We got out of the car at Silvermine; a picnic for Tandi and Nova’s birthday. We nagged everyone who came after us for an update. It got worse before it got slightly better and then everyone had arrived and there was no news for a while.

Imagine our unbelievable surprise when we got into the car and found out that the Indians had not even seen through their 50 overs. They had tumbled to 296 all out! There was a glimmer of hope. Only Smith was predictably out.

What followed was the slow, grinding agony, adding to the misery of me feeling the effects of a cold. I lay on the couch complaining bitterly about Amla and Kallis and how damn slow they were. I felt hopeless when AB needed Hashim to run for him. I was desperate when Botha was out first ball after a 6. And then, Peterson came and won the game. He won the game. I was so confused about why Dhoni didn’t let Harbhajan bowl the last over, but I didn’t care. I was literally on the edge of my seat, looking through my hands, swinging wildly between hope and horror, just like the massive crowd, only wanting different results.

That game took years off my life. If I think about it though, I wouldn’t like to have spent those lost years feeling like I did yesterday. It was all too much. This cricket! Yo!

Today’s nerves

Yesterday I went to Newlands to watch the rugby live for the first time in my life. It was pretty cool, and totally different from the cricket, which is still my favourite. I like being part of the crowd and I love the lights and energy and noise. The game itself was pretty uninspiring, although I am glad the Stormers won. All of this while Bangladesh managed to pull a win over England in the CWC. I couldn’t have been more delighted. Until I realised that they could do the same to the Proteas! But first, it’s the game today. I am properly tense!

Invasion!

I have been quite invested and proud of all the lovely things growing in our little back courtyard after inheriting some beautiful pots and plants from my friend Trev. It’s been either hot or windy or both and I’ve been watering every day, with a beady eye on the little roses, huge marigolds, brilliant basil and tons of other stuff. I have also been trying to rescue a lemon tree in a big pot. For years the thing has been getting chowed by caterpillars. This year I had to completely cut the tree down, and a whole bunch of those little sprouty leaves started growing quite close to the base. I started feeling hope.

Then, fifteen minutes ago I went to water and I found about ten of these guys! And other smaller prickly ones too, but these guys are huge! And, I just want to know; where did they come from? How did they get there, these ready made monsters, so big that one or two of them have even stopped eating and are about to pupate!

Improv and the Proteas, and why I think they need TheatreSports

I was having a chinwag with Brett from TheatreSports on Monday night. He is the most passionate, dedicated and positive Proteas supporter, and we were discussing the game on Sunday between England and SA. Brett managed to put a positive spin on the shocking situation, saying that Sunday’s game was a good time for the Proteas to be shocked out of any complacency, and to make sure they rallied, took it seriously and got properly prepared for the competition. He still believes that a South Africa India final is on the cards. The thing about Brett is his commitment and faith.

When I was reminded of what a loyal and enthusiastic and believing fan Brett is I had a complete flash of what was wrong with the Proteas in general, and with the captain Graeme Smith in particular, and I want to help!

You see, for almost twenty years I have been teaching and imparting the rules and philosophy of improvisation. Aside from saying yes to every offer, the essence of teamwork is developed and practiced. A wonderful space is created which allows for the taking of risks secure in the knowledge that there are other people out there (your team) to support you and even save you and make you look brilliant. And mostly, its about commitment and trust. It’s real trust, free of blame, inspired by the knowledge that the parts that make up the team are brilliant and that the whole is even greater than the parts.

The reason why this improv stuff would be fantastic for a sports team is that so much of the game scenario is similar to improv. When a game starts there is no way to predict an outcome, or even what will happen next. Cricket or TheatreSports; it’s the same. Everyone has practiced the rules and their skills, and each member of the team knows what they need to do; but they don’t know the ‘how’ of any game. Without a failsafe plan A, a contingency plan B, and an emergency plan C, improvisation becomes the best way of doing things! It’s about quickly assessing the situation, having all the trust, taking risks, being supportive, having total commitment and positivity. It is what prevents a team from becoming negative, defensive and afraid. It is the difference between responsibility and response ability.

It is also the best way for everybody to love what they do, and share that love with their fellow players and the spectators. It allows for moments of unplanned brilliance. It opens the door to the art of possibility. It creates a team who fundamentally, truly believe that they can win.

I am not seeing that with Graeme and his team. It feels like they are an old fashioned collection of men, with old rules of engagement, old fears, old names hanging like albatrosses around necks (Brett warned me not to say the ch..er word), and lacking in the brilliant vision of winning. And it makes me nervous. Then I look for someone or something to blame. Then I’m in the downward spiral of the negative, alienating and fearful. I believe that is the worst place to be if you want to shine. For me, I see them breathing sighs of disbelief relief when they somehow manage to win, and acceptance when they lose. It should be the complete opposite. They should feel like they were always meant to win, and should be entirely disbelieving when they lose; as if it were almost totally impossible to consider.

If anyone has a contact to the cricket team let me know. When they get back I want to teach the boys to improvise.

All the bits and pieces

Friday night’s FUNdraiser for Natalie’s Circle of Love was a success! Thank you to the fab TheatreSports team (who were hilarious), the sellers, co-ordinators, actioners, families, friends, the Baxter, and everyone who made it a funny, warm, delicious way to support a good cause. For more on Natalie’s story and progress you can follow or comment on the website.

Other good stuff this weekend included spending time with my delicious sister-in-law, going to Muizenberg beach, making interesting fishcakes, chilling out, maxing, relaxing.

But not everything about the weekend was good. Now I need to be brave for what needs to be discussed; the Proteas and their CWC campaign. Nobody could believe what happened yesterday; losing to England by six runs! I would like to give my completely laywoman’s opinion. My opinion. Graeme Smith makes me nervous. A good leader/captain should be able to be crystal clear in separating his/her own performance and the needs of the team. Graeme can’t. He doesn’t think things through deeply enough. Why, when having committed to the incredibly brave idea of opening with spin, did he not follow through with it later? Why? Why do I get nervous when Graeme is at the crease? I hold my breath, and only breathe out when the inevitable happens and he goes out. (I even do this when he does well!) What about the field? Lately I have had the feeling that the bowlers are out there on their own, and have to win or lose the game themselves. This seems weird when the Proteas have been known as a great fielding side, but with bad field placing, too much is given away. I know that I am whinging, but yesterday’s game was so hard to swallow (choke, choke). The Proteas had it in the bag! It was a sure-fire thing. How did they manage to lose it? (Do I need to get suspicious about match fixing?) For cricket’s sake! England lost to Ireland in the week!

Nothing has changed. I am still 100% behind the team. I am just 100% more nervous.

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