Month: May 2012 (Page 1 of 2)
One sad moment (a cancelled TheatreSports show) meant I could get to The Baxter last night for The Brothers Size, and I am so glad I did. I must confess that I had been harbouring a nasty case of “Why does an overseas production get all the attention?” but I needed to check it out for myself. And (aside from the peanut gallery of Monday night audience cellphone, weird lady who hmm’ed at everything that was said and sweet obsessed group behind us) I am so totally delighted I experienced it.
The people.Â Written byÂ Tarrel Alvin McCraney (who apparently wrote the script at the age of 23).Â Directed byÂ Timothy Bond. Performed byÂ Joshua Elijah Reece,Â Rodrick Covington andÂ Sam EncarnaciÃ³n.
The Brothers Size is a small story about the relationship between two real brothers; the divergent paths their lives take because of their characters and circumstance, and the sacrifices they make for each other. Three young actors transform the space, take us into their world, and perform their hearts out, without losing a beat, without the tension flagging, without a muscle relaxing. These characters are right there for the audience to taste, smell and experience, and love.
This is a story told in poetry narration, dialogue, simple spoken stage direction, song, movement and light. Its rhythms are African drum, its heart is a Springsteen song, its body is an athlete, its emotions are all family and longing and nostalgia and heartache.
These actors are so good. They take their work damn seriously. They are gorgeous and committed and passionate, and fit and strong and focussed. And it is a pleasure to watch them in this work.
Last night Ntombi Makhutshi won Best Director for Song and Dance, my play that was a finalist (and runner up) in the PANSA staged play reading competition for new South African plays. Once I had (irrationally, you know what happens when you suddenly find yourself being all competitive and ‘competition brained’) gotten over my disappointment of not winning, I was able to get back to the real stuff, and I want to pay tribute and give thanks here to that; the real stuff.
First of all, thank you PANSA. This competition is an amazing platform for us writers. What a brilliant way for the scripts to get a first outing. It is a long-waited for, very valued part of the theatre calendar. What is also so important here is that the staged readings feel safe, creative and fun as well as competitive. It is a fantastic thing to be part of. Thank you Brian, Angela, Nono and Max (the PANSA people I harassed on an almost daily basis) for your support, problem solving, enthusiasm and encouragement. And Paul, thanks for the butternut soup. Also, thank you Magnet Theatre; I loved being in your space.
The director and cast of Song and Dance were a dream come true. Ntombi Makhutshi understood what I wanted to say with this play right from the start, and then she set about making it happen with confidence and a deliberate intention. I thought that it was extraordinary that she was able to get so much of the physical comedy and timing into the piece with only a few days’ rehearsal. This was helped by our brilliant casting of Deon Nebulane, Anele Situlweni and Zondwa Njokweni, who rose to the challenge and made my script look brilliant. To be honest, my biggest sadness that Song and Dance didn’t win Best Play is that the cast is not going to go to Durban for the final. I would have loved them to have gone.
I was so happy that so many of my friends made the effort to come and see it. And I was delighted to receive such positive, constructive and helpful feedback from the judges Lara Bye, Tess Fairweather and Mzi Vavi, as well as from the audience. This steers me in the direction of how to make the script better for when it happens for real in a full-scale production.
I was delighted and humbled by the standard of the company I kept, with winning writer Peter Hayes (for his play Suburbanalia), Karen Jeynes (previous winner for Everybody Else Is F***ing Perfect) and Fred Benbow-Hebbert (whose plays have been in every PANSA finals). I was beyond excited that Ntombi not only held her own but took the honours in Â company with the brilliant and experienced Tara Louise Notcutt, Pieter Bosch Botha and Jaqueline Domisse.
There will be very little resting. We may not be off to Durban, but the plans will start soon. Thank you team. This is just the beginning of Song and Dance.
Song and Dance is the title of my new play. It was chosen as one of four in the comedy section of the PANSA competition of Â staged play readings taking place next weekend at the Magnet Theatre in Obz. The director Ntombi Makhutshi and her fab cast were rehearsing yesterday and I stopped by to drop off some set and props for them. I have realised that this is the first time I have properly handed over something that I have written myself to another director. It is totally liberating. It helps that I trust them completely, but weirdly, that isn’t the main issue. The big deal for me is not that we win the competition (although that would be nice) but rather that my play gets worked on and played with by a cast and director and we get to see whether, if and how it works. It’s one thing for me to direct my own words off a page but quite another for someone else to interpret it. And it is at that point that I become a playwright as opposed to theatre maker.
Song and Dance is a 5pm on Saturday 19 May. Come. Let me know what you think.
I was flu-ish and slightly feverish last night. I thought it wouldn’t be a great way to experience David Kramer’s famous musical Kat And The Kings, but instead I had an amazing and slightly transcendent experience. I sat in the Fugard theatre last night and had one of those moments of pure childhood fantasy. It was an idea of the impossible made real, like when you thought you could really, really have a talking dog, the only one ever and it would belong to you? The power of the childhood fantasy was always an emotional one too. It made you feel something huge and indescribable; a feeling of such potent longing and possibility. That’s what I felt last night in the theatre during Kat And The Kings.
I am not going to go into any detail about this production (which is completely fabulous) or the cast (who are mostly amazing) or the design (lovely) or the production values (awesome), or the absolute hugeness of the difference a live band makes. Let’s take how good this show is for granted. I want to talk about the other stuff, the stuff it made me feel.
Imagine this. Imagine that Kat and The Kings was a show that ran in Cape Town, right where it is now, at The Fugard, for forever. Imagine that every tourist, both local and international, when they came to Cape Town went to Robben Island, Table Mountain, to the penguins, and to Kat And The Kings. Imagine many of them being disappointed because shows were sold out months in advance. The cast would change, people would move on, but Kat And The Kings would keep going. Locals would attend every couple of years, celebrating birthdays, and anniversaries, and even deaths. Â People would come to Kat And The Kings as one of the first things they did when they came home to the city. Audiences would dress up on certain nights (like the Rocky Horror Picture Show) in polka dot skirts, kid gloves, pomaded hair and skinny ties. School kids would come, at least once during primary school and once during high school, as part of the school syllabus. Old people would come, from Woodstock and Rylands and Athlone and the Flats to hear the stories of their parents and grand parents.
Kat And The Kings would run for years and years and years, like Moulin Rouge in Paris. It would be part of Cape Town, and it would preserve that history and all its charm in the best possible way. In theatre. In song. In laughter. And love. We could make this happen. We could just keep going to Kat And The Kings.
Yesterday Big Friendly and I celebrated our 8th anniversary. It’s not a lot, compared to the many marriages out there that have lasted a lifetime, and we did only find each other later in our lives, but it has been the best working part of each of our lives these last eight years.
Last night (I felt flu-ish and feverish all day) over a quiet meal at one of our favourite restaurants we chatted about how lucky we were, with each other and for each other (I know. If anyone was listening it sounds like a Mills and Boon ending in real life), but we also spoke about why it worked and why we were so lucky. Here are some of those thoughts and reasons.
We support each other. We support each other when things are not going well for each other, but more importantly, we support each other when things are going brilliantly. I am utterly convinced that Big Friendly’s support is a large part of the success I consider I have achieved in the last eight years; professionally, socially and psychologically. I have a husband who delights that I am going to New York and Australia and will be away for a month and a half, and will do anything to help. Yes, we will miss each other, but we want the best things for each other, and will help each other have them.
We champion each others’ causes. In very different ways. Big Friendly is loyal and elephantine in memory. He does not forget a hurt I feel, and feels it long after I have recovered. I am the talk machine of support. I will talk a thing through and through, and listen to it from every angle.
We have our work around the house and Big Friendly does things for me, and me for him, with love.
I hear him when he says he doesn’t really like going out, and I go out without him, often. And then, sometimes he does come with me, to be with me. And sometimes I just stay at home, to be with him.
We have suffered the loss of animals deeply and painfully, and our love of them has brought us closer.
We are proud of each other. Glowingly proud. We show each other off when we talk about each other (but not necessarily in front of each other; Big friendly would die). Big Friendly tells everyone about my work all the time, doing publicity for me with such sincere pride in my achievements. The result is that he validates them for me, and when I have moments of doubt, they can, and are assuaged by the one who believes in me.
We recognise each other’s weaknesses but don’t use them against each other. We don’t store old hurts and bring them up to hurt each other. We generally make a big effort not to cause each other pain or anger. And we try very hard not to blame each other. This last one is not easy, for both of us, but we work on it, and get it mostly right.
We hardly ever fight. We have had maybe four big fights in our relationship of nine years. This is a personal miracle for us because I am queen of confrontation and Big Friendly is emperor of the cold war. We decided not to fight and haven’t.
Of course there are niggles. And moments of irritation. And the one time (out of twenty) that we don’t get each other, or agree. And then, we are more surprised than anything else, because there is so much we do completely see and be eye to eye on. And for those of you who know us in real life, you must know I don’t mean that literally. It’s a size thing.
It also helps that we find each other hilarious. And that we send each other pictures of animals all day.
I am getting up now. I want to make Big Friendly lunch to take to work. He is making my coffee. Life is good.