Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Month: July 2013 (Page 1 of 2)

A bit like jumping off a cliff…

I keep thinking about how last night I felt like I jumped off a cliff. I was standing with my back to the audience, Bruce Springsteen (my favourite, yet all too close music) was playing, and it was a scene for one actor. My instinct told me to go as far away from my real self as possible and I jumped. I turned around and I was literally somebody else. I had jumped off a cliff and into another character. Who was she? I had about half a second to find out, because I opened my mouth and a voice and accent and situation all came out. And carried on for the next two or three minutes. Then Bruce Springsteen started singing again and that scene was done.

We were performing Little Space Between, an improv format with scenes and situations about intimacy, sex, relationships and emotions. On the last Thursday of the month some of the more experienced improvisers in our team get to push the boundaries in more risky, experimental improv at The Alexander Bar. It’s a delight to be able to do this kind of playing and I think we’re getting better and better and braver and braver.

Big thanks needs to go to our tiny but brave audience, who take a chance with us, relish the successes but are generous and forgiving of our failures. Of course not everything is going to work. It is improv after all. A bit like jumping off a cliff and landing in a sea of unexplored ideas, feelings, possibilities. All you have to do is trust, and choose something.

Klezmer in Cape Town

It was a week of much and diverse live performance last week. I emceed TheatreSports on Monday, played on Tuesday, went to The Rocky Horror Picture Show (amazeballs) on Wednesday, did a double feature of Vigil and The Year of the Bicycle on Saturday and last night I went to clarinetist David Krakauer playing with SA klezmer band Play With Fire.

So, there was a lot to digest. But last night blew me away. A full house in the Baxter’s main theatre for klezmer music? Yes! And it was a totally transcendent, magical, crazy experience. I don’t see enough live music anymore but this has given me inspiration. It was extraordinary and I am so glad I went.

Linus the Magnificent and Frieda the Supermodel

Dear Cape of Good Hope SPCA

This is an open letter to you, to let you know of the developments in our home ever since yesterday, when we saw that Frieda had been chosen as a finalist in the most prestigious Mutt of 2013. Obviously, we were delighted. And then we looked for Linus’s name amongst the finalists. Nope. Nothing. Things were about to get hectic. We gently broke the news to them. Frieda immediately jumped on the couch and started throwing the cushions around and burying her nose in the crack at the back, with her bum and exquisite tail in the air.

Unfortunately Linus has been acting up ever since. All he wants to do is eat. We think it’s comfort eating. He feels so bad he has even tried to eat poo in the park again. He runs through grass with his mouth open, to catch a blade to chew on. He looks on with disgust as Frieda flies gracefully through the air to catch balls. He sleeps a lot. Ok, so does she, but we know she needs her beauty sleep.

What should we do to restore his confidence? How can we show him that he is as special as his sister, just, not as photogenic?

I felt compelled to write so you could be filled in on the details.

Dog besotted

Megan

Let’s be honest

Dear Nikki Froneman, it was so wonderful to have a frank, exciting, challenging, inspiring theatre chat with you last night. It made me feel brave, and it inspired me to continue to be loud and honest about an industry that, quite frankly, isn’t.

I loved what you said about how people live, talk, read, debate, engage with and participate in theatre in Argentina, and I am jealous that we don’t. I am frustrated every day by the smallness, pettiness and bullshit of the South African theatre industry and community in general, and Cape Town in particular. I am always angry at how it’s so easy to wrong and offend people, how ungenerous people are around both giving and receiving criticism, and how the tininess of the industry pool makes us in or out of a nasty little boys’ club.

I hate the fact that people lie to each other about their work and then bitch behind their backs. I hate that even I am often silenced by the certainty that it will be seen as me rather than what I say. I hate the feeling that people are not honest and brave and challenging with me, and that they rather bitch behind my back. I am frustrated that we are not united in the common goal of building beautiful, meaningful, challenging theatre AND audiences. I am angry that we are not allowed to fail, and be held by each other when we do. I am enraged that we continue, in our timidity, to not have the debate, the honest discussion, the ‘here’s what I think’ bold statement.

It terrifies me that people have all pleaded with me to continue writing about theatre and that I should do it anonymously. As if I would be saved from being associated with my opinion. We are playing a horrible, dishonest, full of blame, trumped-up success, desperate and spiteful game here. And it makes me sick and sad.

So Nikki, when I want to say these things I will just have to find you.

Jervis Pennington

I hardly ever see anything twice but last night I saw A Town Called Fokol-Lutho again, after seeing it first in Gtown. It is a delightful, quirky, funny, rude and strange little piece, with cute original stories and lovely singing (and delightful direction by Tara Louise Notcutt and design by Juanita Ferreira). And it is very odd. Made odder by the really odd, fantastic and unsettlingly moving Jervis Pennington.

Now everybody seemed to know Jervis and The Soft Shoes except me. Of course I had heard of them, but had no memory of who they were and what they had done. I guess because at the time (1983 and my first year at UCT) I was listening to more alternative SA music; The Malopoets, Ella Mental, Via Afrika, Roger Lucey, and even Happy Ships.

Jervis has written and composed A Town Called Fokol-Lutho, and he appears in it too. He looks every bit older than he did when he was the poster boy for South Africa’s first boy band. He is surrounded by some fine young Cape Town talent and he is definitely the odd one out, but, his presence is vital, and special. I am so moved by him on stage. And heart wrenched. In a good way. There is something infinitely humble and really creative about his presence (I have no idea if it is true), and he brings a totally different edge to this deeply original little show.

Festival Post Mortem

I always knew I would write this post, but even now I find it difficult. I have been home 3 nights and there is nothing more comforting than fast ADSL, animals, my things and my solid pillar of Big Friendly. Still, for those of you who weren’t there or didn’t hear me say so, the festival was one long, tough, exhausting, often painful, occasionally inspiring, frighteningly empty affair.

I had very few people coming through the door to see Drive With Me, even though those that did seemed to love it, a lot. The combination of a great review on day 1 and then nothing until an Ovation award on day 10 didn’t help (although I am deeply grateful for both). Song And Dance got better and better, without a word or pic in CUE (to be honest I have no idea how people knew about it), and even though Pieter Bosch Botha and Richard Antrobus did a sterling publicity job on Fully Committed and people raved about it I had visions of sold-outs and extra shows because of how perfect it was for the festival. Truth is, it was a very quiet affair, with tons of parking in the streets, food and furniture always available at the Long Table, nobody at the Village Green, and people handing out comps left, right and centre. The only full show I attended was jammed full of school kids. That’s not to say there weren’t full ones. It seems shows that were there for the 2nd and 3rd time did better.

The worst part about all of this is that I am already thinking about how to do it differently next year. Please, theatre gods, if I decide to jump, look after me harder.

And now for some other news. I have decided, after much hearty discussion with friends, family and some colleagues, to stop writing review style posts here on meganshead. I am very sad about it, but I feel like it typecasts me in the industry and people then find it difficult to see me or receive me when I do theatre work of my own. Obviously, that is still more important to me, and so I think I will serve myself better if I am not seen as a theatre critic. I’ll still write, and share my opinions about everything else, including industry related stuff, but I will leave the ‘reviewing’ to those less involved, even though I am confident I did a bladdy good job. So, I will still see almost everything, and I will facebook and tweet about whether I liked it or not, but I’ll reserve this space for writing about other, varied stuff. How do you feel about that? Please send me comments to let me know.

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