Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Month: April 2013 (Page 2 of 2)

Hacking Loss

I have no idea what happened, and my main man Big friendly, who usually just ‘fixes’ everything when things go wrong, can’t this time.

Yesterday, when I tried to access megan’s head, the whole site was gone. I immediately thought that I had done something stupid, but when I came home from teaching last night the site was back, minus my last three or four posts. These include my thoughts on The Line, my recent trip to Jozi and my review of Champ. Poof. Gone.

What has surprised me the most is how sad I am. I really feel a huge loss. I am so attached to this space, to what I write here, and how I write it. I have lost bits and pieces before; like losing a post while writing it, but never a whole chunk of my personal writing history. It also frames how dependent I am on the internet and technology, and how blindly trusting I am of it. I always remember how ‘nothing is ever lost’ on the interwebz, and now my posts are gone forever.

And I also feel like I am letting my readership down. So dear megan’s head followers, I am sorry. Just so you know, I was absolutely undone by The Line, and I thought Champ was very hilarious.

Cute as Bear Shit Champ

I am one of the didn’t-see-it-last-timers. I had been kicked off Artscape’s New Writing Programme’s opening night invite list, and I was in production with something else and I never made it; but obvz I had heard all about it, and was amped to see it last night. I even managed to beg to be invited to its opening at The Fugard, and I am so glad I did.

Champ. 3 actors dressed in bear suits and their demented hippy manager/director are having a particularly crap day at the Mall and their kiddie’s entertainment is being sabotaged by the pissing monster child, 6 year old Rodney. Things go from very bad to very worse when they score six bottles of Stellenbosch whiskey. That is all I am saying.

Champ is Mark Elderkin, Nicholas Pauling (who are completely amazing, show makingly great) and Oliver Booth (a little less completely amazing) as the bear suited actors, Pierre Malherbe as the completely whacky and bizarre Waldo (I love Pierre Malherbe a lot) and Jenny Stead, the Minnie Mouse from hell of Mall Management (who managed to pull off a final monologue like a maniac). Champ is also filthy mouthed playwright Louis Viljoen (who already won the Fleur for Champ for Best New South African Script) and director Greg Karvellas. And amazing Julia Anastosopolous designed the gloomy and grim looking set (I loved what happened to it during the Horror).

Now I am not scared of swearing. This is good, because there is a lot of it in Louis’ fast and hectic dialogue, and some of it is very explicit and creative. I am also not (very) scared of the predicament of under employed actors, and I know their (our) type very well. It should probably be said here that I spent two years working weekends at The East Rand Mall (in a job so indescribably hellish I cannot even do it here), and I spent about two years performing dramatised school tour walkabouts at the V&A Waterfront. Yup. Fo shizzle. So, Champ was pretty familiar territory for me. And I guess, that’s what made it (stripped of every second expletive) damn funny and cute.

Champ is a fast, fun, filthy frolic through the hells of malls, acting, and fucked up relationships that produce offspring with the worst parents. I had a good laugh out loud time.

PS. I also loved the pre and post show music, and I was also jealous. I want to be in a play like that and speak that dialogue.

Jewish

Most of you know, I’m jewish by accident of birth, and proximity to and love of family (to whom it may or may not mean a little or lot more), but personally, I can take it or leave it. Mostly I am not proud of the special antics of visible Jewish behaviour and am definitely the other side of Zionism (which is a whole ‘nother story and can be found on this blog in better and more serious detail here and here).

I am often in mood swings with the Jewish stuff; I love making and eating kneidlach, which I do generally very well. I have some fond memories of Jewish occasions and traditions, kept in a bastardised kind of way by my grand parents, and I love Kletzmer music with a deep and abiding soul connection. I will speak out against all forms of anti-Semitism in the same way as I do with racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia – I despise discrimination and hate those that practice it. But the truth is, I am often embarrassed by the way Jews behave!

So, what happens? I fall in love with, and marry, a perfectly un-Jewish gentile (his 6ft4 frame stands like a lamp post amongst my very Jewish family of bedside cabinets), who is delighted, entertained and fascinated by all things Jewish. Big Friendly has three ‘yarmies’. He asked for and received a Channukiya for a wedding gift. He indulges in an Afrikaans-ised Yiddish that is as hilarious as it is corrupt. He loves Shabbash (Shabbat, with our friends the Noodles). He geshvitzes and shloofs. He gets toegedreidt (instead of tsudreit (sp)) and he loves all Jewish references in movies and books. Go figure.

When my cousin decided to come to Jozi from Australia to hold a rolling four day barmitzvah for her son I realised that is was going to be a series of firsts for Brenton. And it was brilliant.

Day 1 was a drive through a sleepy public-holiday-Jozi city centre to get to the Lion’s Shul. All Jozi Jews of a certain age remember this shul near the old Alhambra Theatre because of the two lion statues on either side of the doors. It was Big Friendly’s first time at any shul. He was a little unnerved that men and women would sit separately and so I sent him in with my brother, and I went upstairs to the opposite balcony so that we could at least see each other and pull faces. The shul is cute, old and gorgeous, with lots to look at. Imagine Big Friendly’s total surprise when some of the men, with giant prayer shawls in place, hauled two little leather strapped boxes out of bags and started putting them on heads and arms. His eyes nearly popped out of his skull.

After the service, and his horror at the kids pelting the barmy boy with sweets (Big Friendly’s second fave things, next to chocolates), his amazement at the Brocha spread, and his fascination at how, throughout the service everyone kept up a constant chatter, he asked me why one of the men was a ninja. He felt very sorry that this guy, the ninja, had been asked to leave for a section of the service. He in fact was a Cohen, who had to leave so the family could get preference for coming up to the bimah (you try and explain that!).

That night, at the party, I watched Big Friendly as the barmy boy was hoisted high above heads on a chair and shaken about in celebration. I watched as the look of confusion spread when he took in the barmy singer, singing along to the remix track of “Simeltov u Mazeltov” and his amazement at the food and the Jewish love of it.

Then there was the Friday night supper. Brenton loves the Kiddush wine. I had to give him my glass as well. He still laughs every time he hears that there will be benching, and he forgets every time that it means grace after meals.

Then there was the actual service and main reading at the Glenhazel shul on the Saturday morning. It was a long one, in a giant, modern shul. I don’t remember why, but Brenton absolutely loved it. Maybe because he got given another special yarmie. My fave moment was when a wooden walking stick suddenly went horizontal among the seated men, and I watched as ancient Hymie tried to poke my cousin with it; he needed help to go to the bathroom.

Saturday lunch in an old Joburg garden was when Big Friendly attached to Frank the French bulldog. And when we drank pink gin and watched kids versus adults play the most vicious, dangerous and hard-core game of soccer.

It was intense.

Being home is a lot less Jewish.

The Line

I thought I would only get to this in the morning, after taking a bit of time to compose myself, but I can’t help it. It needs to be written now. Truth is, I am waiting for my face to get back to normal, from an hour long cry.

Tonight was the opening of my sister-in-law Gina Shmukler’s play The Line at The Baxter Studio. It is only on this week, as part of the Rolex something or another (not exactly sure), but this means that you need to make a very special effort to get to one of the very few performances. It is absolutely required viewing.

This play has arrived in CT with a lot of hype because of how well it did in Joburg at The Market. I was nervous about how it would translate for a Cape Town audience, particularly an invited, opening night one. I didn’t need to worry. It delivered on every level and I was in trouble after the first five minutes and didn’t ever pull myself back.

Some of you will know how the subject of xenophobia gets me going and so it is no surprise that from this point of view I was invested. Two actresses play characters and tell stories taken directly from interviews with perpetrators, victims and witnesses of the out of control xenophobic attacks that rocked South Africa in 2008. And it is devastating.

The Line is a radical, complex, powerful, shattering, horrific, personal, critical, and ultimately human look at these xenophobic attacks, and how it affected those involved. I knew that this was what it was about, and yet, revisiting it in this way was like opening the emotional floodgates. That’s because the piece is so contained and clear and it is able to cut to the real dark heart of this horror without ever getting sentimental, preachy or message mad.

The two actresses, Khutjo Green and Gabi Harris are nothing short of extraordinary. I marveled at their performances. The set (Niall Griffin) and sound (Charl-Johan Lingenfelder) were perfect, as was the lighting, but I say this as an afterthought. I was totally undone by this piece in its totality, and I cannot urge you strongly enough to go and see it. Go.

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