Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: inspiration (Page 1 of 34)

Being vegan – the price you pay

It’s almost three months since I started this vegan journey and I am learning, exploring, discovering (and gaining weight) all the time. Aside from the usual “where do you get your protein?” question, the most common thing I am asked is about how expensive it is to be a vegan. It is so interesting that people think being a vegan is expensive when I have found an animal protein heavy diet almost completely unaffordable. Meat, fish and dairy are very expensive, and, in general, I am spending much less and getting much more. You can go the very expensive, deeply organic route, and buy your tofu from a health shop for R50 a tiny block, or you can get it fresh, like I do, from a Chinese supermarket for R45 for ten blocks.

With some proper sourcing, and a bit of capital outlay on the essentials, like quinoa, nuts, nutritional yeast, tahini, grains and sauces, you can whip together really cheap meals. Even the processed soya meat alternatives like Fry’s¬†are cheaper than most meat products. The rest is largely veg, and my rule is, go seasonal.

Even eating out seems cheaper, with the average price of the vegan option cheaper than the flesh ones.

One thing I am going to have to spend a bit of money on, I imagine, is an iron supplement, and possibly a few others. That might be a bit more pricey. But, on the whole, this journey is not at all cost prohibitive.

 

the best improv fest

I know it hardly makes sense for me to be talking about the next best thing when the best thing of the moment hasn’t even started yet, but I have to. You see, although From Koe’siestes to Kniedlach hasn’t opened yet (it previews on Tuesday and Wednesday and opens on Thursday at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square this week), and that has been my main and most absorbing focus, once it is open I whizz back to Cape Town without a moment to catch my breath and start playing my heart out in ImproGuise‘s fifth annual improv fest.

Starting on Monday 6 March, and with a different format every night until Saturday 11 March, this is the improv festival I cannot stop thinking about. The intimate Alexander Bar theatre hosts us each night at 7pm for an hour long exploration of on the spot creativity, team work, imagination and fun. Nothing thrills me more than a week of improv every night for almost a whole week. And I am playing with Cape Town’s finest improvisers and make-believers. The Alexander theatre is small, with only 42 seats a night, and the different formats we are playing are a combination of audience favourites and ‘brand-new-never-tried-before’. My old favourite is Documentary; a completely made up documentary (think fake news only much more creative) based on a few suggestions from the audience. The format I am the most excited to try out is Tribute, part documentary, part tribute show. We make up the band, the members, the people who influenced them, and then we sing their songs, based on titles given by the audience. There is also Naked Improv, Duos, Westword and Alexander Abbey (our nod to period drama). I am salivating.

Improv for my life

For those of you who know me you know that I love directing theatre, performing plays and writing them, but my big love, if I were forced to choose, is improvising. I am the happiest and luckiest when I am making things up, especially in front of an audience. I have been very clever about living my dream. For the past 24 years I have been doing this almost every week, in some form or another. I remember thinking, when I was in my 30s that there was an age limit to this form of play, but I haven’t stopped and I love it more all the time.

Last night we practiced a new format that we’ll be ‘premiering’ at ImproGuise‘s fifth annual improv festival (can you believe we have done 5 improv festivals?) that takes place at my favourite Alexander Bar from 6 to 11 March. This new format is called Tribute and how it works (kind of) is that the first half is the back story of the band or musicians we are paying tribute to, and the second half is the tribute band playing their songs. Everything is made up. For those of you who know me, singing is not a strong suit of mine, but I love it nonetheless, and I will be belting it out with the best of us. I cannot wait.

Every single of the five nights is a different format, and the Alexander Bar is teeny, so you should start booking for the ones you definitely want to see.

Also starting in March is our new Improv for Beginners training course. I haven’t been involved in the teaching or running of one of these for a bit, and this year Tandi Buchan and I will be doing it together. It is also another favourite thing of mine to do. If you are keen, please email Tandi on tandibuchan@gmail.com for info on dates, times and costs. This course will change how you do life, and it is for everybody, so come and play.

AWPN, Niqabi Ninja, New Stories

AWPN. African Women Playwrights Network. I don’t even know where to start with this post, and I know I am going to leave out vital parts of what ended up being an extraordinary weekend of African women theatre makers making a very special kind of noise.

About two years ago I signed up to a very basic website/group called AWPN, added a terribly simple bio, visited the site a couple of times, and then forgot about it completely. A lot happened in between, and then Amy Jephta, co-creator of the network, contacted me to find out if we would consider performing Niqabi Ninja at this small symposium that AWPN was hosting. There was an extra edge to it because the playwright of Niqabi Ninja, Sara Shaarawi, was one of the playwrights selected for publication in an anthology of African women’ s plays, and she would be coming to the symposium, from Scotland. This would also be the first time that Sara would see our production of the play (or any production of it). Of course we agreed.

The AWPN took place this weekend, at my other theatre home, the Theatre Arts Admin Collective (without which I would not survive). And it was the most extraordinary weekend. We discussed, we debated, we raged, we committed, we connected, we told stories, we met each other and fell in love, we passed on information and gossip, we networked and shared each others’ stories, and we witnessed Niqabi Ninja all together (a complete brain and heart explosion for me and the ninjas Loren Loubser and Bianca Flanders). We met and joined hands, hearts and voices from Cameroon, Egypt, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, KZN, Gauteng, Free State, Robertson and Cape Town.

I was lucky enough to attend every session and I am richer, wiser and more passionate than ever about my craft as playwright, my job as director, my love as performer, my heart as storyteller. I am also reinvented as a woman at all of these things (although I should have known I was, from the beginning, right?).

Amy and Yvette Hutchinson organised a tiny miracle that took place in Observatory this weekend and I am still glowing.

(I also love this pic I took on my phone of Ayanda watching a performance by Mothertongue Project)

Opening A Can of Beans – Considering Veganism

img_5647-2I have wanted to become a vegan for many years but haven’t been able to bring myself to the point of actually doing it. It has mostly been about laziness; I kept on imagining that it would take considerable effort, and time and work. I have been a pescetarian/vegetarian for most of my adult life, and then, when I went on the Dukan diet I had to eat protein, so I ate fish, eggs and cheese a lot. In the back (and slowly moving to the middle) of my mind was the knowledge that vegan was really what I wanted to be.

I decided that becoming a vegan was going to be a new year’s resolution, and so I have been gradually preparing for it. I have been buying some stuff to have in the cupboard, I have made the switch to milk alternative in my coffee (delicious) and I have been reading ingredients labels with dedication (and fury; who knew that had egg in it?). I have also been listening, deeply, to Big friendly’s concerns. Becoming a vegan when you are married to a food fussy omnivore is problematic and challenging.

I have a few concerns about my lazy nature, my propensity for weight gain, and my tendency to overindulge. I could become a bread ball in a matter of weeks. But I am going to try and be as conscious and committed as I can. It most definitely looks like Cape Town is perfect vegan country, with restaurants, shops and even delis dedicated to providing for the fast growing vegan community, so there won’t be any stress there.

Where there is stress is on Twitter. Wow. In preparation for my transition I have read a lot on the internet; checked out recipes, blogs, science, pseudoscience, and deeply personal tips from vegans worldwide. I also decided to follow some vegan related people/things on Twitter. Bad idea. I got a DM from someone demanding I stop the killing NOW! I replied that that was why I was starting my journey, and promptly unfollowed them. Somebody else screamed at somebody else that dairy-free was NOT vegan and they need a disclaimer in their one line bio. And then there were the links that led to nothing but clickbait and ads. So, being a #twittervegan is not going to work for me.

I am going to have to tread carefully. A friend told me about how his sister who is a vegan gets abused and challenged by flesh eaters every day. Why? Shouldn’t it be the other way around actually? But, that is not who or what I want to become. I have already done that with smoking. Over half a lifetime of smoking and then 14 years of having quit made me into one of those rabid anti-smokers for a while, and it was hard work. Nah, I am too, too lazy for that.

But. I am going to need help. And suggestions. And great ideas. And encouragement. So if you have any or all of those, I am open, like a vegan recipe book.

 

 

The Bird Lady

cape20white-eye20pewaAs the year closes in I want to write a little post, a story, that is also a slice of positivity and synchronicity amongst the gloom and news of another celebrity death.

This my story of the bird lady.

About three weeks ago I was still in bed, on my laptop, when Big Friendly came charging into the bedroom. “Jonesie has bird!” Jonesie, our in-and-out cat, who moved in from someone else’s house, is good at catching things and leaving their carcasses on the doorstep as gifts. Actually, considering how well fed he is (read fat) I am sure he steals the bodies from the less well nourished and more desperate street cats in our ‘hood. It is a pretty grim job for Big Friendly to clean up. We have thrown away at least four doormats. This time we both assumed Big Friendly would have to separate Jonesie from the body and throw it away, but then I heard, “It’s still alive!” Big Friendly closed me in the bedroom with all the dogs (2) and cats (3).

He managed to get the little thing into the courtyard and closed the door to stop any further animal investigation or murder. Now what? He kept going out to check and the little pigeon was alert and alive and he couldn’t see where, or if, it was hurt. I am not a bird person. Touching birds makes me feel really funny and uncomfortable, and injured birds really freak me out. I wouldn’t even go and look.

Now we were going to have to ask our neighbour to come and be brave enough to euthanise it, except he wasn’t around. We needed to go the vet anyway to get cat food (oh the irony) and at the vet we asked if we couldn’t bring the bird to be humanely (oh the irony) put down. And the receptionist said, “Here is the phone number of the bird lady. See if she can’t help.”

Brenton called the bird lady and went to drop off the bird to see if it was saveable. He took it, wrapped in a kikoi in the cat box (just to extend the irony a little further). He left it in a special bird-leaving-basket at the bird lady’s gate because she wasn’t home at the time, and followed up with her later. She said a bit of medicine and rest was all it needed. It would survive. The bird lady was a miraculous discovery.

A week or so later I started telling my close friend the story. He was shocked. Just a week before he had taken a baby Cape White Eye baby bird to the bird lady. He had pried the jaws of his cat open to release the teeny thing, and fed it (the wrong stuff that the internet had suggested) every hour, before finding out about the bird lady and taking it to her for saving. When he told the story to another mutual friend she too told her bird lady story; similar in cat assassin and rescue result.

Finally I discovered that another friend had contacted the bird lady for advice about finding a missing parakeet. Her advice was taken and Harvey was found, by my friend, with the help of the bird lady.

I am so grateful and moved that there is a bird lady. Just knowing she is out there, on a mission to help and save birds, makes my world a tiny bit better.

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