Month: August 2011 (Page 1 of 3)
Heather Mac organised a fund raising evening of performance for her daughter Amber who is going to Indonesia to study performance art. Last night friends, family and other people gathered at The Kalk Bay Theatre for this konseert that started with a beautiful Kung Fu demo-dance by Amber’s gorgeous brother Luke, then a great set by Chris Tokalon, then a couple of solos by Amber’s step-dad Mark, then a couple of solos by Amber’s dad Tim Parr, then a few songs with almost everybody and Heather, and Amber doing back-up vocals. I have seen her do back up and harmonies for Heather’s songs before and she is amazing.
Now it’s sometimes hard for me to picture Amber as a fully grown human because I met her when she was two and still in nappies. Over the years I have witnessed her grow; and have loved her as a most special and precious somebody. But last night, as I sat in the dark back row of the theatre with tears pouring down my face and onto my shirt, I discovered what an awesome talent this young person is. Last night was the unveiling of Amber Parr to me. She sang three of her own, original songs, and accompanied herself on piano and guitar. I was literally blown away. I had no idea what a brilliant songwriter she is. I had no idea what an exquisite, powerful and moving vocalist she is. I had no idea how completely mesmerising, natural and emotional she is as a performer.
Amber is beginning her own exciting journey in the world, and she is going into it with buckets full of unique talent. And love. Because everyone who saw her last night fell in love with her. She is amazing Amber. Go well little, little sister.
I want to try something brave. I know a few actors read this blog, and there are quite a few of my friends on facebum who are actors and are friends with actors. So, here’s what I want to do. I am casting a role for a fantastic industrial theatre project that starts rehearsing on 19 September and carries on through to mid November. It’s an amazing cast so far.
I am looking for a male, in his thirties (or even forties; quite broad) who can play a warm, friendly, accessible type boss. He is a bit conservative, but very passionate about his business. A bonus would be that the actor can sing really well. Are you him? Do you know of a friend or colleague who is? Colour is not an issue. Pink, or light brown or dark brown.
Please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are him, or you know him. If I don’t know you, send me a CV. Or inbox me on facebum. If I think you are suitable, we will set up a meeting.
It was Living Remote’s opening night at The Kalk Bay Theatre last night and there was a crowd of press, Cracks, friends, family and even ordinary audience to celebrate one of Cape Town’s finest and funniest actresses, Anthea Thompson.
Living Remote is a “medical demonstration” presented by Anthea’s bizarre character Bertha Cummings. Bertha is a properly cooked, drug dispensing, varicose veined, sif dressed Capetonian old lady who dispenses medical advice to her audience, amongst other things. I first saw Bertha in Cracks and here she is in a full show.
Now, as far as I am concerned, Anthea Thompson could perform the phone book brilliantly. She is that good. And Bertha is a great vehicle for her funny bone; she has superb timing, wicked characterisation and a brilliant connection with the audience. There are moments of total comic genius here. Bertha’s eye test on an audience member is still one of the funniest things I have ever seen, and her phone call with her daughter is pure comic evil.
The whole show could be tighter and some things definitely work better than others. I found myself laughing out loud to things nobody else found funny, and the opposite too. People were falling off their chairs at the physical and sexual stuff that I don’t get so much. But, go see for yourself. Whatever tickles you, there’ll be something here to get you going.
What being in Jozi has done to me!
When I got to Grahamstown The Table had just finished its run on the main fest and I had to listen to the radically differing opinions of my trusted friends. Some loved it while others hated it. I was delighted when I realised that I was going to be able to see it after all on my last night in Jozi.
It seems like an odd choice for The Market Theatre; a very niche story about a Jewish family friday night; not really the kind of stuff that I would imagine being very accessible to an 80 percent black Jozi audience. This was true of last night’s audience, for sure, being made up of 80 percent of a group of black, mostly wheelchair bound or on crutches young people, who were waiting patiently in the foyer when we arrived. It was the kind of audience who laughed at weird places and during all the “sensitive” moments.
The play, created by Sylvaine Strike, the director, and Craig Higginson tells the fraught story of how the three grown children of a family find out that the family maid’s daughter is their half sister. This all happens on a Friday night Shabbat dinner, where they have gathered a year after the father has died. Flora (Janet Carpede) the maid’s daughter (Khabonina Qubeka) is back from studying overseas, the matriarch (still beautiful in her seventies Annabel Linder) is in a private hell of her own holocaust memories, Daniel (brilliant Brian Webber) is sick and has been thrown out by his wife, Ruth (the amazing Karen van der Laag) has eating issues, and the baby Levi (William Harding) is in love with his soon to be revealed half-sister. It’s complicated.
I have had a very interesting response to The Table. It’s weird, but it feels like I really liked it, in spite of itself. The play is in two separate styles; a strongly stylised Sylvaine Strike movement based interpretive visual almost slightly grotesque mode, and then a terribly naturalistic ordinary kitchen sink-ish emotionally fraught purge. And I liked them both, but was never sure how well they got on with each other.
Then there is the story (and I love a story), which just feels like there’s too much of it. The discovery of the black half-sister who lived under their roof without them knowing (reminding me strongly of Mike Leigh’s Secrets and Lies), the mother’s holocaust drama (that includes the table and reminded me of the movie of Everything is Illuminated) and then all the fraught family stuff that includes a healthy Jewish guilt complex, unresolved and hideous jealousy issues, lots of love, childhood memory games and the usual sibling stuff when a bunch of adult children get together. Too much story.
While all the performances were really good (some characters definitely had more meat written into them) Karin van der Laag and Brian Webber were beyond amazing. This play deserves to be seen just for them. I absolutely loved watching them and when I wasn’t convinced about other stuff they helped me get over it.
Everybody has spoken about Sylvaine’s trademark style of direction being all over this piece. I haven’t seen enough of her work to know about this, but there are moments of really beautiful magic, where things are stretched and extended, weird juxtapositions happen, strange things take place with ordinary props and subtext is played out in slow motion movement. Some of these are breathtakingly lovely.
A funny thing happened to me during the show though. There was a constant nagging at the back of my mind, and I struggled with it all the way out into the parking lot, and then back home, when it hit me. During the Directors and Directing weekend Faniswa Yisa spoke about loving working with The Magnet Theatre company because she was sick of only ever having the option of the playing the maid in South African plays. She said that those were the parts written for black women. Put in a black maid. And there she was last night. The black maid; steadfast, loyal, hardworking, traumatised by her own personal secret, and in her housecoat and doek. Surely, surely there are other parts for black women when they are in white stories?