Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Month: September 2014

Brett and Exhibit B

I have been properly unsettled by the many thoughts I have had over the banning of Brett Bailey’s performance art piece Exhibit B at The Barbican in the UK. I don’t think any art should ever be banned. But no, that isn’t entirely, 100% true. A starving dog was once on exhibition. That needed to be banned. I was convinced that the pig-cutting-up exhibition could have done with further curating. So I have blurred boundaries too it seems.

I need to say that I have not seen Exhibit B. I have seen (and loved and hated) lots of Brett Bailey’s work. I have experienced his work in turns as extraordinary, brave, outrageous, creative, radical, passionate, inappropriate, scandalous, successful, flawed, beautiful and even boring. His work is controversial. So is he. He likes challenging an audience. I like that too. I know that Brett is brave and strong, and when he makes work it is to shake things up a lot, especially notions of colonialism, black politics, identity, slavery, Africa and women. His interpretation of Medea was magnificent. Big Dada might have been one of my best ever theatrical experiences.

So, should we take Brett’s history into account when we talk about Exhibit B? Can we? Does the work need to stand (or fall) on its own? Is his work different in a South African context? If it is, is this its flaw? These are just questions I pose without answers, and here is the reason. You can’t tell people how to feel. I know that Brett is heart sore that the very people he was hoping to represent, to express, to give voice to in his piece are the ones that have formed the angry mob against his work being seen. Young, black and angry, some people in this mob have not even seen the piece (although, contrary to a lot of Facebook rage a lot actually have). And here is the deal. They don’t like what the piece says, for or about them. Should this make it banned? I don’t think so. It destroys any possibility of robust debate. it destroys any freedom of expression. It destroys the possibility of actually calling Brett on his stuff; intention, result, execution. It means that the artists (performers) do not get a chance to speak for themselves, outside of the silence they uphold during the exhibition. And we don’t know what they would say, in answer to the outrage, the accusations of racism, the calls for Brett’s scalp.

So, we don’t get a chance to decide whether the work is great or terrible. We don’t get a chance to analyse, debate, criticise, disagree. We effectively don’t get a chance to engage with the artist at all. What a waste.

But, I there is one thing that keeps niggling me and that is the nature of the work. It isn’t theatre. It is an exhibition. There is no story. So the audience is required to interpret, to give meaning to this thing. There is no actual narrative, no beginning, middle, end, no journey of characters traveling. It is in the eye of the beholder. And, certainly in my experience, you can tell (and show) people how you feel, but you can’t tell people what and how to feel. They will feel things, and it may not be what you want them to feel. With Brett’s other work, what he feels and the journey he is taking you on, however obscure, is still more visible, deliberate, accessible. That’s because it is theatre. There is a story. I wonder.

What do you think?

 

Violet Online

Is online! You can already book for it here, on the Alexander Bar website. In fact, people have already been booking. How utterly cool. Now, it is no secret that I am not a photographer’s arse, but Lynita Crofford is pretty damn gorgeous and here is an attempt at a publicity shot that I took for Violet Online. This is getting exciting.

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Introducing Violet Online

My new project is directing the fabulous Lynita Crofford in a risky, frisky one woman show that is part blog, part confession, part fantasy called Violet Online. And it is the best fun I have had in ages.

Based on blog entries chronicling her post-divorce dating life, Violet lets us into her hilarious online Scrabble sex sessions (who would have thunk?), her dress code dilemmas, her online dating stereotypes, breaking the colour barrier, and many other of her most quirky and delicious observations.

I can’t wait for ordinary women to see this piece. It will be on at The Alexander Bar at 9pm on 8, 9 October, and then the following Monday to Saturday at 9pm. I’ll keep you posted, and add pics here on Megan’s head.

Fourplay

I am filled with a special kind of joy and excitement because next Monday we are doing a different kind of improv from the usual Monday night’s TheatreSports. Awesome improvisers Carolyn Lewis, Leon Clingman, Ryan Jales and I will take to the stage at The Galloway Theatre at 8pm, and improvise. We have no idea about format, shape or form. We will let it all unfold. If an hour or so of the totally, magically unexpected gets you going then you should book on 0729393351, and come along. Tickets are a ridiculous R60, the theatre is a spit away from the Waterfront, it is a Monday night and you might need some cheering up, and it will be us, a gorgeous bunch of creative madness let loose on stage. Gwaan. You know you wanna.

Epiphanies, Insights and other random ramblings

I have just had a blinding realisation. It happened while looking at a pic of a man and a signboard. He was advertising his show at the Edinburgh festival. My heart did a lurch when I identified with him and imagined how he felt. Here is a screenshot of the pic. Screen shot 2014-09-01 at 2.08.40 PMTotally innocent and cute, unless you know how he feels. and I do. So, I am looking at this guy and suddenly I know that I will never, ever beg for an audience for my work again. I will tell people about it, and promote it, and write about it and be proud of it, for sure. But I am done begging. And it feels fantastic just knowing that.

That is the epiphany part of this post. The insight part is about my gorgeous and special boy dog Linus, who has a recurring condition that makes him very sick. He is at the vet as I write this, and he is seeing another specialist vet tomorrow so we can make plans to manage his problem better. Truly, there is nothing sadder than a sick pet. I am so haunted by his sickness and how responsible I am for him, beyond words. I ache for him especially since he has no idea why he feels so terrible. I really need a god of small things here. Instead, we will do everything to find out what is wrong and hope that we can help. But it is so, so hard. Here is a beautiful pic of my boy. photo

I love him so much.

And now for a few ramblings.

1. This is the first time the first day of Spring has been a gorgeous, hot, still, beautiful day that I can remember. I have lived in cape Town for 21 years this time around and 1 September is usually winter.

2. You need a Yellow Fever jab when you go to Zanzibar because you can’t come back into SA unless you have one. It isn’t the other way around.

3. I am mid-travel on a roadshow, with a week of travel left and I can’t multitask when I am away. I can’t think of the next project if I am in a strange town.

4. Sugar free ginger beer is awesome. I cannot understand why it isn’t totally available everywhere. (Except I don’t love the Woolies one).

5. I am missing improvising. I haven’t for about three weeks and I miss it.

6. I have lost enough weight to buy and wear clothes I like.

7. I am madly in love with my niece and struggle to be apart from her.

 

 

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