Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: Uncategorized (Page 1 of 10)

Bianca does Lola

I don’t think I have ever written about a show twice before. Since starting to write for Weekend Special I have let my review style pieces live there officially and I have used meganshead to mouth off on other things. But, last night I went to see An Evening with Lola, a cabaret created and performed by my NBF, ninja and heroine, Bianca Flanders, and I felt inspired to write about it twice.

This isn’t going to be a ‘review’, but it is going to be an indulgence in the talents of my friend. And it is going to be an encouragement for Capetonians who read my blog to get their shit together to book and go this week, because that’s all there is (this time around). It’s at my favourite, The Alexander.

So Bianca and her director Iman Isaacs birthed the show because of their situation at the time – two talented but out of work actresses waiting for their next gig. To be fair, I think that neither of them had any idea how busy they would end up being. They have both squeezed this run between all their other amazing projects.

This show is such a delight because Bianca is absolutely everything a cabaret performer needs to be. She is a bombshell in her red catsuit and big hair (think Donna Summer), she is a true comic with exceptional timing, her voice is utterly amazing from kick ass belting it out, to sultry crooning, and she has the most delicious and intimate rapport with her audience, including the sap she warned she would pick on for the rest of the night. She reminded me of a young Eartha Kitt, and this made me very, very happy. I love Eartha Kitt.

But there is a subtle thing going on here with Lola, that had me thinking again this morning, and it is a real achievement. Bianca and Iman have been able to be subtly, slitheringly political, in a ‘it creeps up on you’ kind of way. It is the best kind of political. No slap in the face, no toy-toy’ing and flames. But a gentle, consistent reminder that certain things are certain ways and that it isn’t altogether kosher.

There are tons of in-house actor jokes, but the audience of non actors were collapsed in their seats from laughing, so I don’t think the jokes are exclusive. And Bianca’s throw-away lines get some of the biggest laughs.

Go and see the range of what this young dynamo is capable of.

 

A last word on the ‘comments’

One of the niggling things that has been bouncing around in my mind is a picture of  the kind of white South African who has tons of opinion about the how and why of protest.

In the comments there is the voice of outrage about how these people burn stuff, and destroy stuff, as if they should somehow know better. In the comments, people judge from a position of superiority, as if the commentator is somehow above this savagery. Their tone is, if only these people were more civilised in their protest we would have more sympathy for them, but, how can they expect our sympathy if they burn/stone/destroy what little they have?

If I were to visualise this person I would see this man that I once saw at the Gardens Centre. He was shouting at the man who was putting change into the parking ticket machine. This first man was in his late forties, and he was fat, with his boep hanging over his belt. He had food stains on his shirt, and crumbs on the wiggling hairs of his moustache. His voice was whiny and breathy. His car keys jostled in his hand and his overflowing bags of Woolies groceries lay at his feet. He was terribly inconvenienced, this man, who wasn’t able to use this particular machine at this particular time to pay for his parking. And he was bullying a man who would never, in all his whole life own a car, let alone park one, or drive one. This man, who was shouting felt entirely superior and worth more.

As I turned away in disgust I thought about how deeply unjust this country was, that allowed this man, in all his mediocre failing, to be more than, worth more than anyone of colour. All he was was born into it. He hadn’t earned a single fragment of the privilege he tossed about. He hadn’t even made good on his huge and outrageous starting advantage. He was a giant blob who in any other circumstance would have swept the car park, or moved the trolleys. And yet here he was, and he was an alarm bell, a flashing neon light, an advert for how even the most miserable and mediocre among us are better off than the black majority who won’t be let out of the starting blocks.

So when that ‘civilised’ voice makes its ugly appearance in the comments section, I see that man. And I imagine the protesters seeing that man drive past them, or watch from his balcony. And, to be honest, it makes even me want to go and burn shit.

 

tHEARTre

Everybody who loves theatre knows that kind of love. For those of us who make it, it is a tricky affair, especially in South Africa, where we are all fighting for audiences, for support, for resources, for money, for space and time. It’s like being in a relationship with a student who is waiting to hear from NSFAS.

So I am always equal parts excitement and anxiety, delight and despair, generous and jealous.

We open From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach, Chantal Stanfield’s one brownish Cape Town woman’s journey into the mysteries of white, Jewish Joburg, in exactly a week. A week is just enough time to be convinced and doubtful, totally excited and utterly nervous about putting this work in front of an audience.

This is the first time I have premiered a work in Joburg. And even though Jozi is my hometown, and it holds my heart in so many ways, I can’t help but feel a little like a fish out of water here. Who are all these people, and where do they go, and will they come?

I can’t decide if the material is contentious or not. I can’t tell if it is kak funny or terribly sad, or none, or all. But soon, when we have an audience, I will know. And so beats my heart in theatre.

To book for From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach, go to Computicket now.

2 Parrots and a Sandcastle

IMG_6968So, my way of starting the new year is with three improv shows at my fave Alexander Bar, this coming Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. I will be performing with a different improviser each night, for an hour of made up stuff, with no pre-plan or any idea at all about what we will be doing. I cannot wait.

The line up of performers joining me is unbelievable and I am so lucky to have these people to come and play, and fulfil my dream and first love, improv.

Tandi Buchan, AD of Improguise, our improv troupe, joins me on Thursday night. We have been improvising together for over twenty years now. In fact, Tandi is like my improv wife. We are so safe with each other, but still continue to surprise each other. Tandi is imagination. Tandi is a storytelling machine and brilliant characters. Tandi is Noel Coward and South African Soap. I love being on stage with her.

Friday night is Brett Anderson night. It is also the night of his birthday, so double celebration. Brett ‘take it and run with’ it Anderson is a different kind of partner in crime. Wordsmith, rhyme guy and creative punster, Brett gives me a run for my money with quick thinking and wittiness. I so enjoy being on stage with him.

On Saturday it’s Leon Clingman’s chance to join me. I have been waiting for a chance to share a stage for an hour with Leon. We really get each other as improvisers. With Leon I can take risks. With Leon there is conflict and drama and relationships. Leon is my improv husband. I know it is going to be interesting, and amazing.

I don’t want you to have to choose which night to join us. Come to all three. It’s cheap as bad gossip. R80 if you book online.

Do I dare disturb the (theatre) universe?

With deep apologies to T.S. Eliot.

Last night I attended a second round of double bills in Artscape’s New Voices season. Once again I sat with a small (first play) and then further dwindled audience (second play) in the deathly hole that is my favourite theatre in Cape Town, Artscape’s Arena.

So, first to everything (no not everything, because that would take me my whole entire life) that was wrong with Artscape last night. I will only do one night. I arrived and there was a 50 person strong queue at box office, with 3 minutes to go before the show I was attending was to begin. People were texting other people to tell ushers and door people that they were struggling to pick up their tickets. I didn’t even try. Luckily I smashed into someone dashing to the venue who had a ticket for me. The usher at the door knows me. He hugged me and whispered in my ear that he missed me, from decades ago when we would improvise in On The Side, a fringe venue that we made, that has disappeared (one of many, many). We dashed up the stairs to join the tiny audience gathered for the first double bill. (More about the plays soon.) We came down at interval, when half the audience left. No music in the bar. No nothing. Bleak as hell. Ten minutes later we traipsed up the stairs with holes in our hearts for the actors and director of the second play, who had to start the show at 8.45pm to the fifteen of us who had remained. After that show we exited into a closed and silent bar. I had to go backstage to talk to my friends in the show. There was literally nowhere to wait for them. Ironically, that was probably for the best, because both of them live in the townships and have to rely on public transport and it was getting very late. I left through the foyer tunnel. I noticed hundreds of posters for shows that I had not heard about anywhere else. You know what Artscape? You need to do proper publicity. I looked for information on the website. It was outdated by months. You know what Artscape? You need a regularly updated website.

So, Artscape, let’s talk about this scheduling thing. I am delighted that the work is trying to appeal to a larger, blacker audience, but how about making it easier for them to actually attend the work. Why a double bill? How can you justify it? This is not the Alexander Bar; a niche venue with 44 seats and an audience with private transport or access to Uber. Why stick with this completely shoot-yourself-in-the-foot scheduling nightmare? Ityala Lamawele was also on last night. From what I have heard, attendance has been dismal. Why? Scheduling. I saw it on its last run. It was on a Sunday afternoon and the main theatre (500 seater) was full. That would surely give you a clue about scheduling wouldn’t it? So help me understand what you are trying to do here please.

Now to the plays themselves. I am going to be hard. Three out of the four New Voices productions were particularly bad. Seriously, individually, uniquely bad. The first one was a hideous combination of industrial theatre, soap opera and school play and it was embarrassing. The second one was an unrestrained agony of misplaced internal feelings attached to a nonsensical discourse around identity, that left me reeling. The third one had lots of potential. It needed a mentor, a dramaturg, a coach and director to remove all the added on, trite, pseudo cabaret, generalised wankerage, and to get to its core story which was beautiful, and even well performed. I suggested to a friend in the know that a mentor would have been useful. She said each production had one, at great expense. Oh dear theatre gods, you have sold us down the river of theatrical hell. The last one (seen only by the few hard core die-hards) was beautiful. It was gorgeous, well conceived, moving, engaging, intelligent, original and theatrical. Not 100% so, but in comparison it was the surprise upgrade to premium class. And, it must be said, and I will mention names, Thembekile Komani and Ntombi Makhutshi you were both outstanding and a joy to watch on stage. It must be asked of the other shows, what the fuck were these mentors doing?

Now Artscape, if you are going to be spending the money, then at least do it properly. Experimental work is a must, and it is a great programme, but don’t make it so high risk for your audiences, who are making a huge effort as it is. Come on. You have a huge responsibility here, and you have a magnificent opportunity too. Please let us make this work. Mandla Mbothwe I want to help. I want theatre to win.

Dani and The Lion, Last Night at the Den

1199_IMG_4340I get bored during most live shows, even the first time around. There are very few shows I will watch more than once, and seeing a show for the third time is as rare as  hen’s teeth, or even as rare as Whale 502.

Last night I saw a 3rd incarnation of Dani and The Lion, performed by my best Daneel van der Walt, and new Leo piano man David Lubbe. It isn’t fair to say it is the same show I saw last year though, it has grown and developed and is even more mad, mesmerising, moving and completely hilarious. There are a few new songs, a magnificent new costume, a gorgeous new sign, and the show has an all round attention to detail that is utterly charming, strange and other worldly.

Daneel is extraordinary. Her voice. Her arms, her funny bone, her emotion, her mal kop. David Leo Lubbe is the perfect piano man. He is so complimentary he is virtually for free. Nicholas Spagnoletti, the director, has brought focus, fabulousness and attention to detail that make the show more direct and magnificent. And Nicholas is responsible for that sign. I love that sign.

To be honest, there isn’t a thing I don’t love in this show. I call this my best show. There have been others, but I can’t think of them right now. This is it. Dani and The Lion, Last Night in the Den.

So, after tonight it heads to Gtown. I am nervous that it isn’t going to be as well received as a Neil Diamond tribute goes down in that place, but that is my own bullshit and I want so badly to be proved wrong. If you have believed anything I have ever said about anything, believe me here. Best show.

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