Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Month: July 2014

Megan’s Head – back in action

Some of you will know a little, or a lot, about what this last week has been like for me. I am not going to go into it here. I still want to leave the comments open, and if I go there I will invite more than the usual regular trolls. Instead I want to write about a direct consequence of the whole ugly business.

Megan’s Head, this blog, this space this voice, which has been soft and scarce and shy and self-conscious for too long is coming back. Suddenly I have lost what made me not write. I am raring to go. I will say what I feel and think, and stand by it. I will bring my voice back into this space to write my strong opinions, and I will debate and respond and take criticism and hear your voices too. This blog is so important to me. It is an important place for me to be bold and clear and fearless about things. Part of that will be me criticising things. I welcome your divergences. Let’s keep everything out there. Let’s make sure there are no cows too sacred to mention. I am not afraid of those in power.

The Big Fat Cape Town Fringe Festival Elephant in the Room

I have put off writing this post until now because I was a little nervous that certain productions that had put in proposals for the new Cape Town Fringe Festival would be unfairly disadvantaged by whatever association with me. I shouldn’t have worried. They were both turned down anyway. In fact, I only know of 2 productions that were selected and I heard about that before any other announcements were made (no idea how they knew that they had been chosen!), and they were not Cape Town productions.

Ever since I heard about this new, shiny Cape Town Fringe I have had more questions than answers. No, let me express myself a little more clearly, so you get the picture. I have felt rage at its existence, fury at the lack of consultation, disbelief  that the City of Cape Town signed a 3 year contract with the powers that run the Grahamstown festival, and total amazement that other artists and arts media and theatre lovers all thought that this was a good idea.

Here is just some of what pissed (and continues to piss) me off.

1. Why do we need a Cape Town Fringe Festival in the first place? I know my home town as a place where I spend the whole year making theatre and sukkeling to get an audience to come, dealing with venues, producing work, directing work, performing work and supporting others’ work. That is what we do. All year round. Now the GTown powers are coming and telling us what to do, how to do it and when, in Cape Town. Sorry, no.

2. Why a new festival when all others have bombed? We have had Cape Town festivals before that sucked and failed. And winners that failed. Out The Box, a gorgeous festival, died a horrible death when it couldn’t get funding. Infecting the City is already a Cape Town festival.

3. Who has curated this Cape Town Fringe Festival? Ok, so it’s no secret that I have a terrible relationship with the Gtown powers that be. No love lost. But really? The flailing Gtown festival organisers sail into my city and make a festival? Their rules, their ideas, their plans, their choices, their budgets in my city? I get that if I don’t want to do their festival in Gtown I can choose not to, but this city of Cape Town is our stomping ground (me and those unconsulted, unhappy, distrusting and bitter) and we feel betrayed by the City of Cape Town. Why weren’t any of the Cape Town theatre players that I know and respect consulted?

4. Suddenly people who ‘applied’ are getting rejection emails that explain that the work they submitted isn’t representative. Ja. WTF? Explain who decides that. No, don’t. What utter trash.

5. Why would any local artist pay to be part of this? I cannot imagine who would put up the extra costs. Apparently plenty do, and are, if the flood of applications is anything to go by, but I don’t get it. At all.

6. Why is the whole thing so hush hush? Why wouldn’t Zayd Minty (from the City) meet with us to answer our questions? Who did the deal? Who gave the go ahead? Who drew up the budget? Who is paying?

On a personal note, I think I will make a plan to be out of the city then. Stuff your festival and the miserable Eastern Cape sponsored car you drove up in.

PS. I know. I know the backlash is about to whip my sorry arse. Hasn’t killed me yet, and shutting up never made me friends anyway.

There is no final destination

Liz Mills (the director of Drive With Me) said to me last week how happy she was that the piece had done so well, both in terms of audiences and in responses. We were lucky to get two brilliant reviews in both CT daily newspapers, here in the Cape Times and in The Argus. She said that the reviews had helped prepare audiences for what was a particularly tough sell, theatrically. She is right. Drive With Me is personal, didactic, creepy, esoteric, wordy, complicated and bizarre, with only a few jokes and quirks to lighten the mood. It also asks a lot of an audience, who play an active role in the story, and are part of the plot.

To further the challenge we chose a slot to perform it in Cape Town at the exact time that the Grahamstown festival was on. This was absolutely deliberate. I wanted to make it clear that the show, set and written for Grahamstown, could have a life outside of the festival, where last year I died such a miserable death.  Performing it at Alexander Bar is what solidified it. The Alexander Bar is fantastic. Brilliant management, supportive and hands-on staff, great technical solutions and support, hilarious and widely spread news letter.

I feel deeply satisfied and proud that it has gone so well. My faith in Cape Town audiences has been restored. People have taken the risk of attending different, challenging theatre, and they have been moved by it. This gives me great hope as I turn towards the next thing.

PS. There are still a few tickets available for the added extra show of Drive With Me tomorrow, Wednesday night at 7pm, if you’d like to catch it. Book here.

Joy

photo 4I woke up with this little bubble of joy in my chest. It is wintery and my arms are cold out of the bedclothes as I type and the dogs aren’t in their usual rush for me to get out and walk them, instead they are happy to lie on the blankets and snuggle. Back to the joy bubble. Last night was the beginning of my second week of performing Drive With Me at The Alexander Bar and I loved it. After that Charlie Keegan and I read bits of Clouds Like Waves for the monthly Playthings as well, so it was a theatre double bill for me. And I loved it. I absolutely loved it. I loved the whole of Drive With Me and the response from the small but completely engaged audience. I loved getting notes from Liz Mills who is the most attentive and clear director. I loved reading with Charlie, to an audience that doesn’t usually see my work. Afterwards I loved hanging out with The Alexander boys, Nicholas and Edward, and my gorgeous friend Candice D’Arcy, and I loved driving home full of the theatrical possibilities running through my brain. It is absolutely true that I am a theatre animal, and doing it makes me the happiest I can be. I am savouring this feeling. I am completely aware that it is fleeting. There is nothing more shocking than the end of a run. It is like waking up and something being forever gone.

Compared with my deep misery last year, while I was at the festival that shall not be named, I am a different person. Instead of being the invisible ghost of my character Marion Taylor, I feel entirely seen. People are coming to Drive With Me because they want to. I am not desperate, bitter or lost. Don’t get me wrong. I am passionate, driven and hard working (none of that grateful and blessed stuff). I am proud and clear and satisfied that what I am trying to do is almost what I am actually doing, and with writing and acting that is a pretty good result. Bubble of Joy.

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