Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: inspiration (Page 1 of 37)

Reginald Dwyer

Here’s another product of my writing group. Many of the elements used to thread the story together were prompts. See if you can identify them.

Reginald threw the watch into the disappointingly calm sea. He imagined feeling something huge. Instead he watched as the thing sunk like a stone, and because the water was so unexcited, he saw it plonk on the sandy bottom and stay there, suddenly motionless. He turned and huffed his way along the beach, squinting at the sunset and glowering at the couples looped in each other’s arms and kissing, eyes closed. His twingy hip alerted him to the fact that the beach was sloped, and the fine sand was filling and emptying in his brogues as he walked. Suddenly, and without any warning to himself, he grabbed at his shoes, ripping them from his feet to reveal his beige and brown diamond socks. He hated them the minute he saw them and tore them from his feet too. Everything was thrown into the sea. The socks floating, the shoes sinking slowly.

His slight stutter and small frame had resulted in Reginald Dwyer having a completely sheltered upbringing. Fussed over by a social worker mother and completely ignored by his slightly abusive and competitive, muscular father, Reginald slid through school avoiding blows and spending afternoons in the school library. Mr Collins, the insane school PE teacher knew he was there, and preferred it that way. Reginald was left hand left eye dominant and useless at ball sports. That library clock; its gentle ticking and slow, mechanical second hand had been his first love.

And then he read the Sherlock Holmes novels. The stories kept him awake and intrigued. Moriarty was alluring and terrifying. Reginald fell into a fantasy world that had him fixing clocks, solving crimes and being the world’s greatest cat burglar. He stole and collected his mother’s hair pins and taught himself to pick locks. He listened to the ticks and clicks of safe mechanisms. He practiced saying “the dead never speak” in French and German accents. In case he was ever caught. The fantasy ended in him swallowing a fast-acting poison that he had concocted in his very own underground laboratory. He thought of the pill box that housed his first tooth as the perfect poison holder. He was a loner. Independent. Secretive.

Reginald waded up to his knees. His heart was stuck in his chest. How had this happened to him? He was always the picture of restraint, manners, old fashioned distance.

How had his emotions unravelled so tremendously? The icy water lapped plastic packets against his legs. He felt trapped. His chest constricted.

Mrs Cartwright had started coming to the watch repair shop with silly little requests. She had asked to sit next to him while he worked. Her heady sandalwood incense perfume made him queasy. Fix this link. Change that face. This little watch runs slow. That one runs too fast. And then she had started sending the SMSes. Always the same. Always in caps. “I love you”. It was horrific. She had leaned over. Touched him. He had taken the watch on a chain and strangled her. And run.

The sun had disappeared. Couples had gathered their blankets and bottles and were heading to the parking lot. And Reginald Dwyer walked into the gloomy water.

Out of the Blue

Seriously. This little writing group is messing with my mind. This is what came out of me last night and I don’t even know what to do with it, so I am leaving it here. The first piece was a warm-up with two prompts; desert and sea (or see or C)

Out of the Blue

Waves but not water. Heat moving outwards under dunes. A false shimmer. Attention grabber. Ultimate distraction. My tongue runs along the ridges of my palette. Other less mutable waves. I close my eyes. Two hard red C’s are burned onto my retinas. My eyes throb. I see their blood vessels. I am seeing my own blood.

I scan the horizon. Useless. I can’t tell the difference between wave, motion and man. My hands do the check. Gun, helmet, gas mask, ear piece still attached.

Something emerges. Form becomes more. Three bodies. They move like a dance. They are dancing. The earpiece crackles. A voice. “Shoot. Aim for legs.” These are dancers. The exploding bullets of the IDF will blow their legs off. The dancers are graceful. Small. Women. I aim. Through the eyepiece they are bigger. Real. Knee. Chest. Head.

They drop. Puffs of dust. Then waves. They disappear in the waves. Sweat stings my eyes. I close them again. Hard red blood C’s.

And then, following the instruction to ‘write the passenger safety card for a time travel machine’ my brain spewed this.

Dearest and most beloved on high Patronager and Provider of all things governmental and Spiritual

It is time for you to travel away from us and towards our future.

The Worker’s Union of Nambia most respectfully and with tiniest detail attending thoughtfulness have built the definitive and most secret not to mention special and outcompeting time travel machine outstriving not only the scabby and inconsistent Ruskians, the grabby and fat Amilkians and the troublesome and unhealthy Seffafikans.

Please consider this seat your golden on high throne to the future of Nambia.

Strapping your holy and divine body securely with the maroon stretchy safety garter belt will ensure your un whiplashed haloed head and prevent you from stainage on your most royally blue corduroy pant.

Two fluffy sheepswool head rest ear covers will respectfully surround your ears and prevent them from hearing false rumours and engine failure.

Special and Beyonce feet boot holders will overwhelmingly nurture your footness in the holding position beyond all movement and escapism.

This divine and shiny gear leverage will assist you painlessly to our Nambian future where you, most highly high personage and the only one capable of withstanding troublesome forces, will go to see who we become.

Thanking you subjugatedly and apologetically in advance for tiny errors. Please warm your royal bummage on the preheated bum cushion of this time traveling machine. Close your eyeness. Sit backwards and relapse.

The Workers’ Union of Nambia.

Pete

I had a full week of improv teaching and facilitating last week, including running 5 short 1 hour and ten minute sessions for a school celebrating 2 days of end of term Art Jam. I worked with groups of between 8 and 14 students and we played warm up games and they learned some improv basics in a fun and interactive way.

In my second session of my first day I encountered Pete. I could see (it was obvious) that he was out of the ordinary. He struggled with eye contact and found it difficult to do the fun and spontaneous silly stuff when we went around in a circle, but he seemed to have a spark of enjoyment about what we had done and that was great.

After a fifteen minute break I got ready to receive another group, who were coming from doing something else entirely. Who should join this group? Pete. This time he was bolder and more silly. When it came to the final game (an interview game with two players playing the talking characters hands) he volunteered, sat down, and when I asked for an expert he announced that he would be an expert in Soviet monkeys. And that is what he was; confidently, loudly and hilariously. The teacher who had joined this group told me afterwards how delighted he was that Pete had participated and spoken up – he never says anything in class.

Pete was one of the first kids to arrive the next morning for the first session. He was becoming an expert himself. Funny, clever, silly and totally committed, he had an absolute blast. And so did I, watching him. He tried to come to the last class too he but was hurried off to the session on his schedule. I don’t know if it was any good for him.

But I was so chuffed to have had him choose my improv sessions. I saw the deep magic of it in practice.

OY! Theatre and DNA

Things have been happening at the Theatre Arts Admin Collective, in Observatory. Twice a week young people from all over Cape Town have gathered, under the inspiration of Caroline Calburn, and the direction of Jaqueline Dommisse, and they have been rehearsing a play.

Last night I went to the opening performance of DNA written by Dennis Kelly and performed by the company of (almost totally) school goers, and I was absolutely blown away.

Every single aspect of this extraordinary production was completely professional, and mindbogglingly good. So good, in fact, that they deserve a proper review.

The plot. A group of teenagers do something bad, really bad, then panic and cover the whole thing up. But when they find that the cover-up unites them and brings harmony to their otherwise fractious lives, where’s the incentive to put things right? A modern Lord of the Flies, with more swearing, introspection and added horror. It is really, really scary.

Jaqueline Dommisse has worked magic with these young performers who have fully developed characters, stage presence and a deep understanding of the material. What they lack in stage experience and technique they totally make up for in commitment and presence, and they work gloriously as a team to create powerful, emotional, meaningful work.

Jaqueline’s set is inspirational. A jungle gym is skeleton, structure, status and school ground. The use of the space is amazing, allowing the children to pound across the distance. Music and superb lighting (Frans) add to the charged atmosphere, and even details like prosthetic make-up are perfect.

There are things that make me happy and proud to live in this city (not often, but sometimes) and a youth theatre company down the road from where I live, is my newest happy making thing.

I am so excited that I am going to be working with this extraordinary company next. They are going to be exploring improv with me, and we will aim to perform some traditional TheatreSports shows at the end of the term. Watch this space.

Vegan Lasagna Supreme

I spent the day cooking – a rare occurrence, but very successful. I made vegan kneidlach (matzo balls) in non-chicken soup, and then I made my first ever and definitely the best vegan lasagna. I scoured vegan lasagna recipes online and loved parts of them, but not the whole ones, and so I took the bits I liked from the recipes, adapted them, and combined them, and it was a total success.

I am going to try and write up the whole thing, and all the parts.

The parts

Italian tomato sauce, made from scratch, mushroom and spinach filling, cashew ‘cheese’, bechamel, lasagna sheets

  1. Tomato sauce

Ingredients – half onion chopped, clove of garlic, 1 fresh chilli, olive oil, dried thyme, sweet basil, oregano, 1 tin tomato puree, a small tub of tomato paste, water, a handful of fresh basil, balsamic vinegar, salt, black pepper

Fry the onion and garlic in a splash of olive oil, adding the dried herbs and chilli. Then add the tomato paste and stir before adding the tin of tomato puree (you can use a tin of whole tomatoes too), balsamic vinegar, half a tin of water, salt, pepper to taste. Cook on a medium heat until the sauce thickens slightly and bubbles. Then add chopped fresh basil and mix in.

2.  Mushroom and spinach filling

Ingredients – half a punnet of button mushrooms, a bunch (or packet) of spinach – washed, de-stemmed and shredded, half an onion, Italian dried herbs, clove of garlic, salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Fry the onion, garlic and herbs. Add the finely chopped mushrooms, and when golden, add the spinach, salt, pepper and lemon juice.

3. Cashew cheese

Ingredients  – 1 cup pre-soaked cashews, clove of garlic mashed, 3 tbsp olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, 6 tbsp water and 3 tbsp nutritional yeast.

Blitz everything in a food processor until smooth.

4. Bechamel

Ingredients – 1.5 cups soya milk, 2 tbsp flour, 3 tbsp olive oil, salt pepper

Heat the olive oil and add the flour, whisking fast until smooth. Add the milk slowly, whisking all the time, over a medium heat. Stir until sauce thickens, adding salt and pepper to taste. When sauce is thick take it off the heat.

Build the lasagna by putting dry lasagna sheets down first, then layering mushroom and spinach, tomato sauce, bechamel and blobs of cashew cheese. Do this three times in this order, ending up with a béchamel and cheese top.

Bang into a preheated (180°) oven. I used a casserole dish with a lid, and I baked it for 40 minutes.

I have made myself a bit sick. I have eaten half that dish. So good. So amazingly good.

 

 

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.

Page 1 of 37

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén