Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Month: November 2011 (Page 2 of 2)

Tabloid style reviewing

Take a look at my blog. Scroll down a few pages and you will see that I have liked or loved at least eight things in a row. Ok, that does include a movie, but still. Eight in a row is pretty good going I think. Especially for me, since I have been called harsh, and vicious and bitchy and horrible, amongst other things. You will notice that the most comments any one of those rave reviews got was three. Yup, three people committing to comment on the good stuff. Then go to the ninth thing. The one I didn’t like so much. 20 comments. And they are rude!

So, I’m understanding something here, and relating to the tabloids who have made a business of smut and negative and scandalous. That’s what people want. They get excited and hot under the collar. They get defensive and personal and mad. But mostly, they get emotional.

Forget rave reviews. Forget brilliant performances. Forget me trying my hardest to conjour up an audience for something worth seeing. No, people want me to hate something and slag it off. That’s when people get sent to my blog. That’s when word gets out. That’s when people jump on the comment wagon and sing their stuff from the meganshead rooftop. And that’s when I get my reputation for being a theatre hating, blonde hating, music hating cow. It would be hilarious if it weren’t so revealing. This is an industry that loves the dirt, the scandal the failure. And I find it weird. Pretend I hated Hol. Get excited and go and see for yourself.

Hol hol hol

I can honestly say I have never seen anything like it ever. Hol is Nicola Hanekom’s one woman tour de force (she wrote it and performs it) directed by Fred Abrahamse, and it opened at Artscape’s Arena Theatre as part of this year’s Artscape’s Season of New Writing.

Now I knew all about this piece; Nicola and I have spoken about it before, but nothing could have prepared me for it, and I was undone by this most brilliant show. Picture this. As you enter the theatre the glaring white perspex box of the set (brilliantly designed by Marcel Meyer) frames a treadmill. The character that Nicola plays, Lisbet, is already on it, walking and running, and drinking water. And that is where she stays, for the next hour. For the next hour she is on that treadmill, running. Running away, running towards thinness, running her thoughts out of her head, running alongside them as they appear to torment her.

I keep saying, I have never seen anything like it, and there is nothing to compare it to. Nicola’s performance is jaw dropping, heart aching, and astounding. She manages to combine fierce technique, unbelievable fitness, perfect timing and an emotional connection for every single moment of this complicated, magnificently written, cerebral, layered, and moving piece. And there are times when it is blisteringly funny. My Afrikaans is ok, and I got mostly everything, but I hate the idea that there were words, phrases or concepts that I missed because the script is so dense. Nonetheless, what I did get moved me out of myself and I sat next to my theatre date with tears literally falling off my face.

Take it from me; in a world where I see good theatre all the time, Hol is special, better, more original, more satisfying, more meaningful, more sad, more horrific, more everything. Nicola is unbelievable. Fred and Marcel have done an extraordinary job with direction and design. I don’t know why there was not an overfull house at the Arena (come on Arena, your bar is so pathetic, there wasn’t even an ice block to be had) but here are the exact dates of performance. 18, 22, 24, 26, 30 November and 2 December. The only excuse you have not to see this is if you do not understand a word of Afrikaans or if you are in a coma. Don’t even try and talk to me about theatre if you don’t go and see this. It defines how I think about things theatrical from now on.

*This amazing photo is by Nellis Rietmann

Rose Red; a wicked treat

Going to the opening of Rose Red at The Kalk Bay Theatre with my delicious theatre friend who is visiting was the best fun. It was a shmooze fest before and after, and we loved, loved, loved it (and I did have more than one glass of red myself. Just saying.)

And I loved this strange and wonderful story with songs. Rose Red is a monologue, written and performed by Dianne Simpson, accompanied by live pianist and MD Dawid Boverhoff, and directed by Pieter Bosch Botha. It is the story of Snow White, told from the perspective of the evil step-mom, the queen.

Pieter has transformed the stage at KBT into a dark and gloomy little cottage, exposing the gorgeous stone wall at the back and filling the floor with dry leaves, teeny stools for the dwarves and other bits of furniture that looks dusty and untouched. This sets the scene for the ghost of the evil queen to come and speak to us, mirror and all. It’s a layered, modern and complicated tale.

Dianne Simpson is amazing. She comes on in wicked fairytale clothes and make-up and tight and crooked upper lip. She looks like wired-up wickedness. Then through story and song (weird, well known songs, turned on their heads to fit her style and mood, including Tori Amos, Lady Gaga and Annie Lennox) and simple, beautiful piano music we start to understand the complicated dynamics, the feminist yearnings and the misunderstood actions of this traditional villain.

I have always thought that Snow White was a bit of a wimp. I was quite comfortable going with this complicated woman’s version. Her crazy upbringing, her rags-to-riches, her insecurities and need to be seen and loved. I was caught up from beginning to end. It was so refreshing seeing performers I don’t know (everyone is from Jozi, but Pieter is going to be making Cape Town his new home) being directed by some fresh new director whose work I have never seen. New ideas, new theatrical solutions, new excitements. I love theatre. And this is a great example. I swayed to my feet for a rousing ovation at the end.

Check. It.

Putting The Tent up at The National Theatre Studio

Warning; this post includes trumpet blowing of the worst personal kind. I am finding it hard not to glow and radiate with excitement about my upcoming trip to The National Theatre Studio in London for a week of workshopping (and other amazing theatre stuff). This week I received an email describing the plan and our agenda. On Monday and Tuesday there will be introductions and we will get to see plays (awesome). From Wednesday to Friday we will work with our designated directors and actors on rehearsing and then performing a ten minute extract from each of the six plays. These extracts will be performed to an invited audience of theatre people; producers, directors, management. I can hardly believe it.

Then I received an email from the director who will be working on the extract of The Tent. He is Kobna Holdbrook-Smith. Check him out here on youtube. He seems really inspired by the play. Honestly, I am blown away by this opportunity. Here is a reminder picture from the production we mounted at Artscape in 2009.

Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act

In a church, with the audience facing the door, piles of books, boxes and library stuff, a weird partitioned off room, and a blanket on the floor. The light so dim you can just make it all out. And the talking and touching starts. Intimate, sometimes rambling, mostly beautiful and completely revealing. Until the nightmare begins.

Kim Kerfoot was awarded a young director’s bursary by The Theatre Arts Admin Collective (and GIPCA and Distell) and he chose this Fugard play with the impossibly long title to do. He directs Bo Petersen, Malefane Mosuhli and Jeroen Kranenburg, with design by Guy de Lancey.

The version of this play is possibly as good as any version could be. The performances are great, the direction excellent, the design simple and effective. And, for me, this is Athol Fugard’s writing at its absolute best; where his characters are incarnations, most human people in untenable circumstances, who have to fight against, negotiate, try and often fail to understand a system that makes no sense of anything.

Written at the time that there actually was an Immorality Act (even the words, let alone the concept are mind boggling) the play is completely bizarre in its circumstance. It’s like watching a play about concentration camps. How was that humanly possible? How could it be? And ultimately, that is its extraordinary success. We know it was like that, and, against the odds, two people, for whatever reasons of their own, found each other in that craziness.

I have no idea why, but watching this performance made me think about the relationship between the script, the director and the cast. It is such an intricate, complicated and strange relationship, and not everybody is friends all the time. There is constant ‘push-me-pull-you’. There is constant negotiation, constant compromise. There is honouring, questioning, trusting, boundary pushing. It is an amazing thing. And Kim Kerfoot has done an amazing job.

 

 

I Like It Vrot

Jinne ek was bly gewies that I managed to wikkel me and Big Friendly tickets to last night’s “media night” of David Kramer’s new musical comedy @The Baxter. That either almost makes me media, or just very forward; just saying. There is such a lekker vibe when The Baxter foyer is full and pumping, and it’s a David Kramer, Mark Lottering, Christo Davids combo that pulls the crowd.

David’s musical is centred around one of Mark Lottering’s characters, Shmiley the ghaatjie, who has now found himself a full cast of players to play with, a Cape Town crime story of massive proportions to be caught up in, delicious opportunities to be in drag, and special new Kramer songs to sing.

The result is fresh, funny, cute and delicious. The cast are amazing. Larissa Hughes, who plays detective Mercia Meintjies is by far my favourite. Ok, ok I’m biased, but honestly, that girl is a brilliant actress, a powerful presence, hilarious at comedy, and yo, can she sing. But, to be fair, I loved almost everybody just as much. I loved Mark Lottering. And Christo Davids. Oh, and Abduragman Adams. And the rest.

The story is very local, set in Cape Town, the Cape Flats and Wynberg (by the magistrate’s court ne), and perlemoen poaching, gangster action, night clubs and a hotel at The Waterfront are the background for a farcical romp while Mercia does her detective work to catch the bad guy. There is hilarious drag, the best Al Jay Zee gangsta hip hop, a touching solo or two, and kick ass performances from everybody.

Nothing about Some Like It Vrot is earth shatteringly original; but it has the perfect formula for hilarious local entertainment, brilliantly done. Even if full on traditional musicals are not your cup of whatever, you will love this laid back jaul, that delivers entertainment on every level.

Oh ja, and the set (Saul Radomsky) and costumes (Craig Leo) are amazing! Lekka. I did not find it baaring, ever.

(This awesome photo is by Jesse Kramer)

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