Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: Cape Town (Page 1 of 81)

#DayZero – open letter to the City of Cape Town

Dear City of Cape Town

I am really in a very bad mood with you guys. Truth is, I feel like you are taking the piss, and I don’t think you should be taking anything right now. I am sitting here, sipping my bought water very slowly, trying not to sweat because I can’t shower, and failing to control my temper because I cannot believe your disgusting behaviour.

Without virtue signalling, like madam premier, I have been a dedicated and high performing water saver. We have drastically reduced our water usage, have systems in place to use all grey water and we buy drinking water for humans and pets. I  support and encourage all efforts by our neighbours, friends and even further afield on social media, and I interact and intervene with people in public and work spaces to create further awareness.

Not that it matters, but I was one of the very, very few who was vocal in my support of increased water tariffs based on the value of my property, even though I knew the suggestion was because you guys were caught in a catch 22; asking for people to use less water meant you had created a cash flow problem and were getting less hard cash.

I was active in solving your mistakes when you installed our new water meter and it leaked. I was proactive in getting us back onto the system when you guys couldn’t see what the problem was, even though our meter hadn’t been read for over a year after being installed and our water was estimated.

I am perfectly comfortable with the effort I have made to bring my water usage down to the targets you have set every time they have changed, and I have been living fearfully with the idea of #DayZero as a real possibility.

So, now I feel you guys need to come to the party you forced me to attend.

Let’s start with your hideous, inappropriate mascot. Please explain who signed that off and then who executed it. How did that pass any kind of inspection? Who thought that was cool? Who pays for it? Honestly, I have seen better outfits at charity shops.

Let’s move on to the helicopter banner. Who is paying for the helicopter and banner that flies around our skies with Day Zero, Save Water on it. That’s it. How do you imagine justifying the cost of that? My brain hurts when I think about it. Help me understand how this is an effective part of your awareness campaign.

Finally, I see via the news yesterday that there is a glitch in your new water monitoring system that you have just switched over to and you will be charging us for water based on last year’s usage for the same month. So, last year our water meter was broken, and the reading was an estimation on the year before. Also, we will now not have an accurate (or even general) reading so we can see our usage and our water saving. Plus, water prices have gone up, so we will be paying more for water we haven’t actually used. No. This does not compute.

We need your help here if you want us to play ball. I am sick of your threatening ads warning us about what is going to happen if we don’t do what you say, when you ride roughshod over all our efforts and betray us when it matters. I am shocked that you have made no real inroads in reducing water consumption in the bad suburbs of Constantia, Fresnaye and Camps Bay when my Woodstock is coming in well under target.

Your handling of this drought has left so much to be desired. You have lurched from shouting school headmaster to ‘our-hands-are-tied’ blamers of National government. Now, as I sit here seething at the sound of that helicopter circling for the fourth time over a very water wise suburb, I want you to understand how I feel. I feel like Mrs. Kippie, and you are taking me for one.

Oh the Humanity

I was being chatted to by an actor the other night, and he was shooting the breeze, complaining about chancers in the industry who give the ‘real deal’ a bad name, and bitching about the Cape Town Joburg separation of power and ideology. He spoke about how the Fleur du Cap Awards are hamstrung by old thoughts, how certain directors have fallen into bad habits, and how most actors of a certain age are only just functioning alcoholics. The usual. Blah blah Shakespeare.

And then it happened. This respected and very super talented actor gave a thorough analysis and deeply thought out criticism of a play he had not, actually, in fact seen. There are few times when I am completely at a loss for words. Not that he noticed. His diatribe had come out of a moment where he inhaled mid speech and I had told him about a play that I had in fact seen; a play that I did think was hideous; based on actual first hand experience. On his out breath he started talking about this other play, that he had not seen, but, according to him, could never work because of 1. the director, 2. the cast, 3. the content and 4. how it has been done in the past.

I suddenly realised that this happens a lot. A lot of actors don’t see other work but have opinions on it. I see a lot of work. Some I write about, others not, but I never ever have an opinion on a piece that I have not yet seen.

Next time you get into one of those post-show, a few glasses of wine later monologues in pseudo camaraderie, ask the speech giver up front if they are talking about a play that they have seen.

Advice for recent Drama Graduates

This is an open letter to all recent drama school graduates who are trying to enter the profession, from a very experienced, not always successful, long time fighter in the field.

Dear almost made it,

Firstly, congratulations on completing the introduction to what will be a lifetime of learning, practicing, hoping, developing and waiting. Drama school (I include all of them) is the very beginning of your journey and, if you are anything like I was when I finished my diploma and degree at UCT, you have only just started to understand this world. Yes, it is a great start, but that is what it is – an introduction.

What next? Some of you will wait to get work, hope to get an an agent, go to castings, become bar tenders while you wait. Some of you will tech for other shows, stay part of a theatrical community, do courses, get drunk with your friends, or give up entirely and make a different choice for your life. One or two of you will land that job, make a name for yourself, fill your calendars, win awards and glow and succeed.

Some of you will be bold and take the initiative to create your own work. You will be both praised for this and warned; it is so tough on every level. It is tough to work with no money, and to get others to work for no money, it is tough to publicise a show with no resources, no name to go on, no past history to rely on. It is heart breaking to perform for tiny audiences. All of this is true. So, if you do decide to put on your own work, even with all these things conspiring to make it the hardest thing to achieve, you need to make sure you do the work.

Learn your lines. Rehearse. Rehearse more than you ever did at school. Make sure that you respect the space, the playwright, the director and most importantly, the audience, because there will be people like me, who have been there and done that, who will be sitting in the audience and who will know. We will know that you just haven’t done the work and you are trying to get away with it. Your raw talent, and recent knowledge of voice warm-ups will give you false confidence, but it isn’t enough to pull the wool over our eyes, and you do yourselves a terrible disservice.

Honour the theatrical space by giving it the respect it deserves. Honour your education by knowing that all those things you learned need to be put into practice. Make a commitment to putting on great work, and failing, rather than trying to get away with shit work, or no work.

Whatever you do, do not present shit work, half-baked work, work that shows you up as a chancer, as someone who doesn’t really take their craft seriously. I recognise talent, but I can tell you right now, I have only once ever casted someone because they were talented, even though I was concerned about their reliability and commitment, and I made the biggest mistake.

We see you, those of us in the tiny audience who know how it works, and we know exactly what you are doing. And your friends and family might not tell you the truth, so I am going to. Do not do the barest minimum of work and try to get away with it. It will not serve you.

I hope you know that I have your best interests at heart. I want you to succeed, make beautiful theatre and be brilliant. That is what I want to watch.

Megan

 

 

Accidentally delicious Vegan Salad

Sometimes I’ve just got to blog about it. I am currently eating and blogging at the same time because I have to tell you about this morning’s accidental salad.

Quinoa left over salad (quinoa – my special recipe, diced cucumber, snap peas, spring onion, blanched green beans, basil, flat leaf parsley), shredded cabbage (my new obsession), diced avo, tablespoons of chia seeds, goji berries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, tahini, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar. So completely delicious.

The Tiniest World of Song and threads of History

When my brother and I were tiny our family would come to Cape Town some December holidays to stay with my paternal grandparents who lived in the last house in the road in Oranjezicht. Across the road was a rugby field and then the mountain. We would wake up in the morning and head across the road to play in the stream that came off the mountain, catching tadpoles and wetting our feet, until the rest of the household woke up.

My grandfather had a giant Valiant; the worst size of a car for his tiny height. Driving with him was hilarious for us kids and terrifying for my parents because my zaida Israel would let go of the steering wheel and tap on it as he sang Yiddish songs. “Yum Tsiki dai dai” he would sing, or “Chiri Bim, Chiri Bom”.

Last night I snuck into The Labia to see the second screening of Philip Todres’ documentary Leah, Teddy and The Mandolin – Cape Town Embraces Yiddish Song. The movie house was filled to the brim with white haired Jewish moaners; I overheard how this lady had all her jewellery stolen by that maid and all she got from insurance was R21000, not enough for a single choker. I heard snippets of the ‘Jewish report’ of how many Jewish Capetonians had been forced to leave the country – things are so bad. I had to cough and splutter to get the woman next to me (who had come late) to shut up and stop using her cellphone. The usual. The kind of audience I had grown used to with From Koe’siestes To Kneidlach.

So imagine my surprise when I found myself utterly moved and connected to this little piece of history, celebrating Philip Todres’ 10 years of The Cape Town Yiddish Song Festival. This tiny movie, with interviews and recordings of songs from the concerts, tells the story of the rebirth of interest in Yiddish, and through it all I felt the longing and nostalgia for my grandparents’ home, up the hill from The Labia, and my zaida killing himself laughing at that “knakker on a nun”, and my granny Sophie (born in SA and less fluent in Yiddish) telling him to shush; he was letting the world know how unsophisticated he was.

I was taken back to my late father’s record collection and I remember those deadly boring Sundays of my youth when the Nationalist government wouldn’t allow anything to happen on the day of rest. We would lie on the carpet and listen to Connie Francis and Eartha Kitt, and even Harry Belafonte, singing Yiddish songs and my father would join in. Sometimes my maternal zaida Louis would come by, and a game of Klaberjas would happen and my zaida would curse in Yiddish (a chaleria zols du chappen) if he lost, tease and boast if he won, call my father a ganef, and he would tell us again about how strong uncle Izzy’s Yiddish accent was when he complained about the dog showing ‘vite tiet’.

I lost my critical voice and professional opinion last night. This is very unusual. I put it down to what Klezmer musician band leader Matthew Reid said about all the Yiddish songs being in a minor key, so even if they are happy and jolly songs they are still sad. Those minor keys got me, and even though I would never in a million years go for the terrible shtetl stereotypical scarf and suitcase Fiddler styling and direction, I found myself humming along and tapping, with the rest of the audience in the movie house.

Well done, Philip Todres. I don’t know how you have managed to make Cape Town’s Yiddish Song Festival a thing, and now even a little movie, but you have, and it is its own special kind of wonderful.

Poem for Water

It is raining as we get on the plane

Raindrops trail on the outside double window

A taunt.

The tarmac is wet and slick

And sounds are water muted

Our showered bodies smell clean

But we feel somehow unprepared for our return

To the dry land

The panic land

The brown land

The bone sand dam

The hollow dry bed

The withered pot plant

The turned off tap

The unused pipes

The dirty sheets

The threat of fires.

Our throats dry in the pressurised cabin

And our tiny bottles of bought sparkling water

Are drops in the sky from up here

They will pass through our bodies before we leave the air.

This last week of swimming

And summer thunderstorms

And pink centred bromeliads holding minature worlds of water

For frogs and bugs

And taps for feet washing

And balconies dripping rainwater onto the balconies below

And gathering more and then dripping onto the balconies below

Has felt so tropical and abundant.

I am drying up and out

As I head home.

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