Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Month: June 2017 (Page 1 of 3)

NT Live, and theatrical thoughts

I hope you have noticed that I have been writing reviews for Weekend Special, Cape Town’s newest and most comprehensive online arts and lifestyle magazine, started and curated by Karen Rutter and Jane Mayne, two vital and veteran arts journos, contributors, editors and theatre and music lovers. It has been an honour writing for the website that has made an enormous impression on the arts in Cape Town since it started up in December.

I have written about plays, movies, series and even a restaurant, and it has been such fun. One of the best parts has been that I have gone to preview screenings of the NT Live productions. I was absolutely transformed by St Joan, and Hedda Gabler, was awe struck by Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, and have a few on my list that I am so excited about (tomorrow I will see Emelda Staunton in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?).

What has been such an eye opener has been that even the famous, experienced and visionary theatre makers in the UK don’t always get it right. Last week I saw Obsession, directed by the amazing Ivo van Hove, with Jude Law, and it was truly horrible. It was agonisingly horrible. And without sounding like I am gloating, there is something so comforting in knowing that even the masters get it wrong.

Of course, the lesson is that we can all fail when trying to make theatre (or any art actually), but it is the trying that is so important. Here, at home the rules of engagement are so different, and so much of the theatre (and film) we make is terribly, boringly safe. Safety can be in what is expected of us, or it can be in having a proper, paying job, or it can be doing the same thing over and over again. Safety is low risk, low challenge, low stakes theatre, to get by. Low risk theatre is easy to make, needs short rehearsal times, and short cuts on everything including the massive commitment needed to make a show. And then, add meek critics to this; those that would rather not say if something is bad because they don’t want what tiny audience there is to stay away, and theatre is dead in the water. Nobody wants to see stuff that hardly blows air up your skirt.

Now, before everyone gets hysterical, I am totally generalising, because it is a miracle that so much great theatre IS made here, in spite of how ball achingly hard it is, and how we have none of the support, money, sponsorship, subsidy, history and culture of theatre attendance and theatre vocabulary that the UK has. I know. But there is something so extraordinary about a spectacular failure, as opposed to a whimper. And I just don’t see that here.

 

Improv excitement

I sprang out of bed today with the happiest sproing because on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night I am going to be improvising with ImproGuise and we are doing a different improv format on each of the nights and this makes me very damn sproingy.

We are going to be playing our hearts out at my favourite theatre, The Alexander Bar, and we are on at 9pm and we want you to come and witness the fun and join in the laughter. On Thursday night we will be warming up with old school TheatreSports; short form, competitive improv games, with suggestions and scores from the audience. Friday night is reserved for our new format Tribute. We have only played this once before and we were transported by it. The first half is an improvised documentary about a made up band. Then, after suggestions for titles from the audience, we pay tribute to the band by singing four of their songs; all made up and never heard before. You need to be there to believe it. Finally, on Saturday night we’ll be doing SuperScene, where each player directs a scene using the other players, and the audience votes for which ones they want to continue seeing, until there is the last and final, winning SuperScene.

You know me; any opportunity to get my improv on. I am so, so sproingy. Please go here to book. The venue is tiny and you only have 3 nights to choose from. Yayayayayayyayayayyay!

PS. I was a little bit underwhelmed by the response from actors regarding my proposal for improv masterclasses. Maybe you want to come check out the show and then see?

Improv for Actors

Dear Cape Town actors, I am seriously considering running once a week masterclasses in improv, specifically for actors, but I need to ask you outright whether you would come, and whether you would make it a regular thing? Is this something you think you need, or would benefit from?

My vision is that we would work in monthly modules. For example, we would do four sessions on being present, four sessions on improvising a character and character work, four sessions on status and relationships, and so on, pretty much ad infinitum.

I am also open to the possibility of focussing on what you as actors need from these sessions. I know that there is always a request for improv as an audition tool.

Improv is my big love, and I have seen how it has helped me, both on and off stage. Aside from the delight of performing improv, I also adore sharing the love as a facilitator and improv teacher.

Who is keen? Be honest here, is there a need? Would you come? Should I find a venue and propose a time? I would try and make attendance at these classes really cheap and accessible, so what would be an affordable price? What would be a good day (or evening, or morning)? How much would you spend on weekly classes? How long should a class be?

I would love to get your feedback before I source a venue and put in the work. Let me know by sending me your contact details in an email at megan@improvision.co.za

 

Winter Solstice

I often wonder whether there are things in the world that we all feel exactly the same about. I know it couldn’t possibly be true that everyone had the same response to things, especially since our lived experience all over the planet is so diverse, but I have these poetic notions that there are things that bind all humans; even if it is simply that we share in the wonder of new life, the sadness of sudden or even lingering death, and an innate aversion to suffering. I don’t let myself think about that too hard, because of the holes; those that I know do not share these things, or at least act like they do not feel them, or have unlearned the feelings.

But I have this feeling once a year, on our winter solstice (based on absolutely no fact, or reason) that we are all a bit crazy on winter solstice and that we connect to something dark and old, a bit dangerous, a bit unstable, and very natural. It is both an unsettling feeling and a comforting one; that we share this short day and dark night with each other, and that, symbolically, we start moving towards the light now, even in tiny increments.

This year I hope it has to do with our whole country, I am able to visualise our country being in this nadir of dark unsettledness, and now crawling towards something lighter, easier, healthier.

I guess this is simply a visualisation exercise, but how cool if we shared it.

(PS. I was on set yesterday, acting and having the best time of my life, so maybe that is why I am all blissed out and full of thoughts for positive change.)

The Rat

I should have known the particular “Megan!” that Big Friendly shouted, early yesterday morning, before the sun was even up. I should have recognised the tone, but I was still half asleep, so I wasn’t fast enough when he shouted “close the door!” and I jumped up, too late and a thing crawled in and under the spare bedroom door.

Thus began the stand off between us, the thing, the cats and terrified dogs, that is a rat/mouse in the house. The last time it happened, Chassie had caught a mouse and it was screaming for help as he squeezed it in his jaws. It was a Saturday night and it took Big Friendly two hours to catch it after forcing Chassie to release it, then building a fort, blockages and various other obstacles. I was pretty useless. I was used as look-out and pet body guard. The tension between Big Friendly and useless me was big.

Yesterday’s drama was a bit of a repeat. Big Friendly had to create barriers, and take out most of the stuff that was moveable in the spare room. I took the terrified dogs for a long walk. When we came back the rat/mouse/thing was stuck under the small, but very heavy old cupboard in the spare room. There was no way we were going to manage this operation on our own.

Enter Facebum and our fabulous Woodstock group. I searched for pest control and was immediately reminded of Sebastian Seelig from Pest Free SA. I buy GR5 from him, a strong, environmentally friendly, multi-purpose household cleaner. I saw on Facebum that he also does ‘extermination’ and pests. I called him, desperate.

Sebastian came, and the first thing he asked was, “do you want …?” And we knew exactly what he meant. We said, “please do the other thing, release it somewhere.” and he said “sure.”

And between him and Big Friendly they caught the small rat/giant mouse and got it into a cardboard box, and Sebastian drove it away, and we all saw on Facebum later that he released it at Paarden Island. I don’t know if these guys are territorial. I hope we haven’t started a rodent gang war.

Some of the chat on my thread on Facebum was the best. Apparently rodents don’t like damp cotton balls covered in cinnamon or peppermint. Apparently this makes them run away. We didn’t try that, but I’ll bear it in mind.

But Big Friendly and I have spoken, and we want to save our relationship. These rodent encounters are too stressful. And we have 2 and a half cats (Jonesie the part time cat is actually probably a rodent exterminator specialist, since many a front door mat has had to be thrown away with blood and guts soaked fur or feathered dead thing mashed into it). I mean what are they there for, these cats of ours? We need to let them sing (or kill) for their supper. They eat enough Royal Canin Feline Senior Consult Stage 1 anyway.

There is a construction site down the road, that has basically been a dump since we have lived here. All the feral cats, various rodent life and any other scavenging, desperate thing are being moved out. Some are going to find their way here. And next time we are taking the dogs for a very long walk and leaving the thing to the cats. We will deal with the bloodbath after the war.

Period Pain

I am reading South African writing at the moment and have just finished Kopano Matlwa‘s Period Pain.

I can’t remember being that unsettled by a book, ever, really. It takes the form of secret journal posts, some confessional, some describing events, some reflecting back on the past, and some even prayers and admonitions to god by a black, female medical doctor.

It is in turns hilarious, gross, shocking, unbearably sad, jarring, ugly, beautiful and mad. It is our country in one person, and one person who barely survives our country.

Conflicting and fluctuating attitudes about religion, education, family, xenophobia, white mistrust, and what it is like to be a woman are all turned over, examined, shaken about, discarded, picked up again and examined for wounds.

It is a devastating read, made more bleak because every word could be true and these things happen to people here every day.

And yet the writing is mad, quirky, urgent, poetic, totally original and compelling. I haven’t ever read anything like it.

It is a must read book. Must.

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