Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: inspiration (Page 1 of 36)

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.

How to say it

From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach, Chantal Stanfield’s one-woman piece that I directed has just been extended for a week at The Baxter. Nothing could give me more ‘naches’ or joyful pride. This joy is brought home by me not having to beg, coerce or Chinese bangle (is that horribly un PC now?) anyone into going to see it. Crowds (mostly my abandoned tribe) of people have been flocking to see it, and have been doing the word of mouth thing that is more powerful than any advertising.

Although my job of directing and even ‘getting in’ to a new space is long over, I find myself drawn to the show every couple of nights, mainly to check in with Chantal because I know how lonely a one-woman show can be, but also to witness first hand the audience response to the work.

One of the benefits of directing work like this is that someone else is able to put across more subtly, kindly and persuasively, some of the strong opinions I have about being Jewish. Also, because Chantal tackles the subject from the outside looking in, she is able to make light of her observations, and it is this that the audience loves. Non Jewish audiences find the show a hilarious learning curve, while Jewish audiences are given an opportunity to laugh at themselves and see themselves a little more critically through an outsider’s eyes.

All of this in  great, true life, storytelling tradition. I am beyond delighted that this work is being so well received, thanks in part to Daphne Khun who began the journey with Chantal, and then to Nicolette Moses, who fought hard to have us at The Baxter.

You have one more week SlaapStad. Get your tickets now.

Thoughts on going into this year

I know I want to reinvent this blog. It is a kind of new year’s resolution without the fanatical resolve. I am already in the not fanatical stage. Maybe it’s because meganshead is 11 years old this month. That’s long for a blog I think.

Anyway.

What do we want to share in a blog? It has to be something longer than a Facebum status update, or a new, double length tweet. It has to be something that readers will come here for. Especially. Deliberately. On purpose.

Do people still read blogposts? I do, but very rarely. I usually get directed there by an announcement on social media.

I have decided that today I won’t announce this on social media and then see whether anyone swings by to look at it.

Please leave comments with thoughts. Love ya, mean it, bye.

In the Presence of

Last night I went to see something quite transformational and spiritually injectifying. My ex student Melanie Aiff organised a sort of concert/gathering/jam/witnessing of creative live performance and music in which she was the thread, voice, word, move with all these other amazing people in the space (the totally transformed Theatre Arts Admin Collective).

She advertised it as Mel Mwevi Shares, and there was a lot of sharing. It was like being in her crazy lounge and reading her diaries (entries of which were played as a slide show on the big screen), while sitting on cushions on the floor.

She sang, performed poetry, spoke rambling personal stories, got outraged, introduced us to her friends (and some fellow performers) from Breaking Bread, a one woman organisation who takes care of and feeds the homeless and helpless of Salt River, Woodstock and Obz, and we ate delicious vegan food, and fell in love with Mel and her friends.

Mel is the easiest and most charming person to watch. Somehow she combines the deepest emotion with the lightness of touch, and sheer enjoyment, indulgence, arrow sharp point slash of intention, trivial tantrum are all combined to make everything she does real and meaningful.

We sat transfixed for two sets that lasted almost three hours and I (who can barely manage a 55 minute play) was happy to be there until the full moon rose again.

Now here is the thing. Mel Mwevi is a true artist. She is a goddess of the word, a siren of sound and a wizard witch of the performance space. She needs to be able to make and share in every crevice, corner and stadium of the world. She is unique and inspirational. She needs to be given lots of hard cash to do what she does, and to pay the troupes of people that will work with her. I know there are people who have managed to get this right, with patrons and crowd funding. So, people who have, or who know of people who have, please let her know how. I will connect you up.

PS. Photo stolen from Facebook. Taken by Jono Tait.

Princess Stuffed Mushroom Magic

Sometimes I get so obsessed by a recipe I invent I have it three times in a row. This is one of them, so I thought I would put it down here, for everyone.

I bought big brown mushrooms but didn’t really have a purpose in mind and then I bought a jar of Pesto Princess Red Pesto (sun dried tomato and pepper) because it was dairy free, and wasn’t sure what I would be doing with that either.

Then, when I opened the fridge, I saw them both and an idea sprang to mind.

Oh, and coconut flakes? They have been sitting in my cupboard since I bought a stash from Komati Foods in Obz for very cheap. I don’t know how to use coconut flakes.

Long story short. I allowed the inspiration to flow, stuffed the mushrooms with the pesto, sprinkled chilli flakes over and topped with handfuls of dried coconut flakes.

Then I bunged them into the oven and waited until the coconut flakes went brown before hauling them out.

In this first version I sliced them, and put them on a bed of sautéed spinach with nutritional yeast, and sliced avo, all on a warm roti.

There are no more pics, because, eaten.

I also did these mushrooms with fresh tomatoes and lettuce (and a drop of tahini and lemon) in a roti, and one with just mushrooms, lettuce and avo. All were equally delicious.

Princess Stuffed Mushroom Recipe

Ingredients

Pesto Princess dairy free red pesto

Big brown mushrooms

chilli flakes

Coconut flakes

Method

Pre-heat oven to 200°. Scoop a heaped teaspoon of pesto into each mushroom and spread it around. Sprinkle chilli flakes over and put coconut flakes on top. Bung in oven and watch for the coconut flakes to go brown.

 

 

 

True Story

About 5 years ago I bought a Cape Honeysuckle and planted it in our back courtyard, up against the wall, in a tiny patch of sand after I had lifted one of the tiles. I also planted a Black Eyed Susan. These two went absolutely mad, took over completely and were impossible to control. I was really sad when I had to make the decision to chop them down, especially since their colours were extraordinary. The Honeysuckle had deep red flowers instead of the more common yellow or orange. But, they were becoming a big nuisance and were threatening the wall, so I chopped them down.

A year ago I noticed that a shoot of the Honeysuckle had taken hold and was growing in a tiny crack in the corner. We had a conversation, me and it, and I warned it that I was going to be absolutely ruthless with it; I was keeping an eye on it to make sure it only went upwards and more than once I chopped off big runners that went off on their own. And I have been keeping an eye on it.

Imagine my utter shock and surprise when I saw these.

These lilac trumpet like flowers have absolutely nothing to do with the original plant whatsoever. I have no idea how this happened.

I had another conversation with it after seeing the first bloom. I was, “What are you doing? Where do those come from, and wow, they are a beautiful surprise.” Bad idea. It went mad and there are blooms and runners and shoots and leaves all over. It was as if it had tried me out on this new floral expression and now, with permission, it was going to show off, a lot.

This is a true story. No idea what is going on here but it is beautiful.

PS. My accidental tomato plant has also gone totally bonkers and I harvest about 30 teeny tomatoes a day. They are delicious.

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