Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: theatre stuff (Page 1 of 65)

A First Audience

My body is an amazing machine. I have woken up this morning with an entirely different sensation in my entire body; one of almost relaxation. I had no idea how tightly I have been holding on, with a seriously stiff back and shoulders, taut stomach muscles and even tension in my jaw and face.

But last night we (Chantal Stanfield and I) had our first preview audience for From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach, and it was a test. A hard test because the preview audience, ‘friends of the theatre’ at Auto & General Theatre on the Square are a tough crowd of mainly old, mainly been around the block, mainly Jewish theatre goers, and we had no idea at all about how the show would go down.

As the lights dimmed and the music started I realised that I was clutching my pen so tightly I had broken though the skin on my palm. Chantal came onto stage and started. It was like my body started leaking out the tension with every word she said and every reaction from the audience. By the time she reached what we think of as the turning point there were those in the audience who wanted to clap. I found myself beaming. And then, at the end of the hour I found myself melting completely as many in the audience stood to give her a standing ovation. A Standing Ovation at our first preview.

What a blissful, comforting, lovely relief. My whole body feels it. Ok, I have woken up with a stye in my eye the size and shape of Swaziland, but that is obviously the exact point of tension release.

I can hardly believe I have most of today free. It is a gorgeous, cloudless, perfect Joburg morning. Then tonight it is our second preview and we open tomorrow night for real. Only a few tweakings and fiddlings and we are good to go.

I am finally allowing my body to start thinking about home. Big Friendly, dogs, cats, beach, wind, improv, other work that has been seriously neglected. Deep breaths in and out. Life is good.

 

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.

Joburg Nights

The window is open and the cricket is so loud its like a one cricket band on steroids. I love Jozi at this time of year when everything is lush and green and the summer heat is tempered with rain on most days.

I am up here directing Chantal Stanfield in her one woman show From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach, opening at the Auto & General Theatre on The Square. It previews on 28 Feb and opens on 2 March, and even though we have just started rehearsing this week, I can already tell that it is going to be so lovely. When I suddenly have a waterfall of ideas (most of which will never manifest and be in the final result) I know I am operating in my creative space and it is delicious. It’s also that time when I find things on the rehearsal floor achingly (and repetitively) funny, and my cheeks are sore after every session.

It is interesting working in a space that isn’t my home, and I seem to have lost any small ability to multitask (let’s face it, I don’t have much ability to start with). Everything feels different. Space and travel and timing and food and even the air is different from home. Here I am loving other dogs (missing my dogs), walking the aisles of unfamiliar supermarkets, driving a different car. It’s like I have swopped my life for someone else’s.

This is the second Jew-ish themed piece of work I have done in the last while (I performed Mother in The Finkelsteins are Coming to Dinner; a show I am dying to do in Joburg, hopefully still this year). For someone who is reluctantly Jewish as I am this is hilarious. And we are rehearsing in a pretty Jewish neighbourhood too. All my Jewish radar is on high alert. When you are looking for it, Joburg can be pretty Jewish. I keep having the urge to tap into my ancient Jewish network, to insist they come and see the show.

Whenever I come up to Joburg (my hometown) I am split between wanting to live here and in Cape Town. The urges for both are so strong. This is definitely second prize though; if I can’t live here and in Cape Town at the same time at least I can come up here for a couple of weeks at a time for work.

And, if you are in Jozi you can come and see what I’m doing. Let’s hook up.

 

 

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)

Niqabi Ninja in a New Age

Yesterday we got together for our first pick-up rehearsal for Niqabi Ninja; we are performing at a little symposium next weekend and we haven’t looked at it for a while. We did a read-through, and then we stumbled through a run, reminding our bodies, minds and hearts. It was a very fresh and intense experience and the words and meaning of this play were sharp.

What added to my deeply felt experience was the fact that this was a new era, a new time, with sexist misogynist, the orange man, president of the United States. The sexual harassment of women the world over takes on new meaning, and must be fought on a grander scale now. Our job as commentators, educators, art makers and theatre warriors is harder, and must be louder and more frequent.

Niqabi Ninja becomes our cultural weapon, and we will use it. Sara Shaarawi, Loren Loubser, Bianca Flanders, Caroline Calburn, we are an army.

Single Minded Hilariousness

1441_dsc_0721-2Last night I laughed. I laughed loud, and long, and kept on going. I barked, and guffawed and chuckled and giggled and squealed. And this was all in the same hour, at the Alexander Bar, at Jon Keevy’s new creation, Single Minded; the sort of sequel to his Dirty Words. I liked Dirty Words, but I love Single Minded. It is right up my, oh god, alley.

Single Minded is very, very clever sketch comedy, written by Jon Keevy, and directed by him, and performed by the adorable Kiroshan Naidoo and delicious Kathleen Stephens.

I usually hate sketch comedy actually. I usually hate it because it feels slapped together; underwritten, under rehearsed and kind of ‘let’s see if we can get away with it’ in style and tone. Single Minded is not that. It is very well written (especially if you delight in puns and wordplay), beautifully rehearsed, and it has costume changes AND choreography. It also has a great soundtrack and (as Jon himself pointed out) many, many sound and light cues. This is a slick show, levitating it above the genre, and making it very damn funny.

Kiroshan and Kathleen are entirely at home with the style, which is bold and cheeky, and they indulge in the material, and scene changes. I loved them. I loved Johan (but will not give more info as a spoiler), and I loved drunk bride-to-be, and I loved self-help guru and assistant the most. Actually, Johan the most, no, no, drunk bride-to-be.

Last night was particularly special because somebody in the audience got used; a really old guy, and he had absolutely no idea. I thought I was going to get a hernia.

I cannot imagine why you would not go and see this show, on at 7pm for the next two weeks. And my fave Dani and the Lion is at 9pm, so make a meal of it. Best ever.

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