Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Month: May 2015 (Page 2 of 2)

Ninety Nine

When I saw the letters printed out on the front wall instead of just the usual numerals I had a little internal shiver of disapproval. How pretentious. I mean, what’s wrong with the normal 99 Bay Drive? Why ‘ninety nine bay drive’, without the grammatically correct capitals? I was outside this stone and concrete triple story construction that was launching itself at a jaunty angle into the blue sky, for an audition. An audition to audition really. I was meeting the director of the project, who needed to see whether I ‘got the concept’ well enough to be able to qualify for an actual audition. As I rang the bell I swung from the outrageous confidence of, “these people will be blown away by how damn good, clever and versatile I am” to the bleak negativity of, “why am I doing this to myself, I am such a con artist, a busker and it’s all such total bullshit.”

I could hear the sound of the electronic doorbell ping and echo through an obviously not carpeted space. And of course, from somewhere inside, the dogs started yapping. It was the high pitched, hysterical Pavlovian yapping of dogs who do this every time the doorbell rings. I waited. The make up I had applied was beginning to itch in the sun. I knew it was going to start smudging under my eyes, and that little sweat beads would push through onto my upper lip and forehead if I didn’t get inside soon.

I rang again. There was the subtle click of magnets releasing and the door moved a centimetre. I pushed and entered. The passage was cool. A giant ball stood in an atrium, spewing water from an invisible hole. The water trickled over the expanse of concrete ball and then puddled in a pool below, to be sucked up again, but there was something wrong with the little pump and it was grinding and churning. The dogs sounded even further away, now that I was inside. I pictured them upstairs, locked in a bedroom for the day, and then wondered if people actually lived here, during normal non audition times.

A childlike person sat at a little table at the end of the passage with an iPhone glued to his ear. He didn’t say anything over the phone, or to me as I approached him. There was a pile of forms on the table and he handed me the top one, and a number, hand-written in black felt pen on a sticky label. 99. I was person 99. I was the 99th person that was ‘being seen’ by the director.

I sat on one of the black plastic chairs that had been lined up against the stone wall of the passage. There are two ways of looking at this, I thought. 99 is a sign. Or, dear gods of insults and disappointments, 98 others have come before me. The tiniest movement caught my eye. A spider was suspending itself from a rough piece of up-to-date-and-fashionable stone outcrop in the wall.

The child-man clicked his fingers and I looked at him. Still holding the phone to his ear, he mouthed silently at me. “Running late.” I was not surprised. In a flash I knew today was going to be the ‘it happens in 3s’ day. In a vision of absolute clarity I knew I would be sitting there for 99 minutes. Another decision. Do I stay and get progressively more furious and unable to produce a decent representation of myself, or do I cut my losses and leave, saving 99 minutes of my life?

And I had thought all of this, imagined it all in the 99 seconds after receiving the brief, in an email, from my agent, with the address of the audition location printed boldly at the top.

Claimer. This entire story is true. It happened to me, but maybe not all at once. It is a collection of tragic audition experiences. Except for the last paragraph, which is creative licence and an attempt at making it all a little bit more tolerable.

This post is one of nine tandem blog posts, all with the same topic, and all released at the same time. Please check out the other offerings by these amazing writers.

Sarah: https://medium.com/@ricegirl2

Dave: http://bloggsymalone.wordpress.com/

Nick: https://medium.com/@nick_frost

Brett: https://brettfish.wordpress.com/

Cath: https://cathjenkin.wordpress.com/

Scott: http://squidsquirts.blogspot.com/

Kerry: https://medium.com/@Kerry_Contrary

James: http://www.jamespreston.org/

 

Life is a Cabaret (but the world wants Disney)

Cabaret-03I don’t know why I have ended up at matinees at The Fugard twice in a row. I should have learned my lesson the last time, at David Kramer’s Orpheus in Africa, where all I wanted to do was kill the people around me, with their sweets and things in wrappers and coughing and cellphones and generally disgusting behaviour. I walked into the gorgeous Fugard foyer yesterday, took one look at the special matinee audience and felt sick. A Saturday matinee audience is the worst collection of old and deaf, parents and children, out of towners who don’t want to drive home too late, and me. So, what I am about to say about this extraordinary production of Cabaret is tainted by who I experienced it with. Just so you know.

As you, dear meganshead readers, are aware, I made a deliberate and hard choice not to write review style posts about theatre anymore. It stopped working for me, for many reasons (written about here in old posts). So it is interesting that I am returning to it so passionately with this show; mainly because I feel emboldened and want to declare why I thought this production was superb, on many levels, and why it is exactly this that has been its failure.

Matthew Wild’s vision for this production is dangerous and beautiful. His design is awesome, and his choices are strong. But, even just mounting this production was a huge risk for the hero director of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and The Fugard management, who must have wanted to come up with a successor to Rocky. Initially I questioned the choice. There have been recent productions of Cabaret to compare it to, and of course there is the dangerously dated Liza Minelli movie that has locked this story into that version. Ok, so Rocky suffered the same conditions, but Rocky is fun, and outrageous, and cheeky and naughty (in that join in ‘I can be a little naughty too’ way). Cabaret is dark. Cabaret is proper horror. Cabaret is bleak, and historical, and complicated, and tragic. In a nutshell, it is not fun. This is a problem that many musicals face, but there is the promise of fun in Cabaret and I think it is what people remember. Liza Minelli as Sally Bowles; a ditzy, big-eyed innocent who just loves to be on stage, is what people remember. Cabaret has been disneyfied in memory.

Before the show even started I became aware of the loudness of the gran and her friend next to me, and the clacking of the ice in the miserable teenager’s plastic cup in front of me. “Ooh look, it says Berlin!” said the gran to her friend after repeating word for word the typing as it appeared on the scrim. Clack clack clack went the ice. Everything was more or less ok until the first boy on boy kiss. Then the gran got loudly disgusted and I knew we were in for it. They didn’t even know the story. And, unfortunately, this is how it was for most of the audience; some of whom didn’t even make it back after the long first half.

Charl-Johan Lingenfelder’s performance of the emcee is totally inspired. He is a marvel in this role. It is a performance that is multi-layered, disciplined, articulate, magnetic and riveting, as well as beautiful, painful and exquisite. He moves from being charming and bold to horrifying and then exhausted, and every moment is a commentary on the world his character inhabits. And he plays the piano accordion. And he sings like a demon angel, and he dances his ass off. It is almost unbelievable.

The rest of this superb cast are extraordinary too. Everyone. Claire Taylor’s interpretation of Life is a Cabaret is the best I have ever seen. I thought everyone was fantastic. I loved the choreography, and styling and costumes, and I even loved the set (although it was a bit clunky).

This well thought out, clever, harsh, bleak, challenging show is not cute, or sentimental, or full of heart. It is ugly and raw. The girls are too thin. The boys are cruel. The main characters are complicated failures; the world is on its head. The choreography is clever; sordid but context conscious. The protagonists are weaklings, and self-absorbed. Nobody is loveable. The closest we get to liking someone is the Nazi sympathiser. He is personable. How clever. How complicated.

It is no secret that I am not a fan of musicals. The singing always gets in the way of everything. And in the real acting scenes here this is a great challenge. Also, the acting scenes are dated. They are old fashioned and long. This is also a huge challenge that I think has been handled boldly and bravely, but it is a high risk choice for a Disney ready audience. They want it offered to them. They don’t want to do a stitch of work.

I think this production is the best Cabaret I have seen. But, during the interval, in the toilet queue I heard old ladies complaining that it was too weird, and one old lady said, ” I’ve seen it twice before and this isn’t the same.” That is what they wanted it to be; the same as something they remembered.

So here we are. Between a rock and a very hard place. Thank you for this amazing but totally misunderstood piece.

(I think Jesse Kramer took this pic that I lifted from the Fugard website)

 

A wonderful response

In 2011 I wrote this post, An Open Letter to a Drug Addict. I had been grappling with the incredibly bad (but typical) behaviour of a drug addict in our family’s midst. It was a letter that got a good response on my blog, and one that occasionally came up again, when people who were searching for that kind of thing found it. So, when I got a new comment on the post not so long ago I checked it out but the link made no sense and I forgot about it, until this morning, when Stacey left a new comment and sent me a new link.

This is her daughter’s dance interpretation of that letter. She recorded it and danced to it, to express her feelings around her brother and his addiction. It is quite extraordinary and I am touched.

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