Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: writing (Page 1 of 16)

Art as Life

As an artist who plays in many different forms – performance, writing, directing, marketing, facilitating, teaching, I am always preoccupied with whether the work of the arts can make a real and powerful difference, and can bring about fundamental, systemic change.

Art, especially theatre, can be a potent way to deliver commentary on the human condition. The arts change, often with the use of emotion, how audiences think and feel about many things. It’s what happens to those thoughts and feelings afterwards that I am interested in.

This current version of the world is full of distracting fake everything. It is a rigmarole to find out who really said what, and when a thing happened if it, in fact, ever did. It is distraction of the highest order and it makes us feel bogged down, immobile, and also unable – dis-abled. In art we are unburdened by whether something is a fact; we are made to believe the ‘what if it were true?’ notion of things, and then we see the consequences of it, as if it were true.

We test things out in this artist space. We examine these ideas – and they can be anything, from how to rise above childhood trauma, to the apocalypse, to politics and their intersection into community. We rewrite the common view of history, we invent people to go through hell on our behalf, and we make radical choices and ask our audiences to make decisions based on what feels right. The theatre, the gallery, the darkened cinema is an emotional dissection space where politics, science, history, psychology, and the deeply personal are portrayed in a such a way to elicit a response.

This is powerful stuff. This stuff is the emotional juice of any revolution. It is the potential glue of genuine uprising. It is how Vaclav Havel rewrote the history of the Czech Republic. It is how Woodstock was the expression of a shift in the new world order and a total discarding of the old narrative.

Right now fake news on social media, manipulated by big business politics, is our greatest distraction because it keeps us locked into an outrage that feels both helpless and impotent, and then we suffer outrage fatigue. I believe ostrich head in the sand or even true despair and depression come next. We don’t see the point of voting, participating, or even telling people to pick up their litter. In this state they have us where they want us; we are consumers. We consume their information and their products.

This is where art – theatre, film, literature, stories can be the great shifter. Art can introduce a new possibility. It is the least we can do.

 

What Audiences Want

I know this has been a recurring theme in my work and writing. I asked the question more boldly when I was young. The Return of the Rhino Woman asked it directly, with me as performer refusing to come out of the dressing room until the audience declared their interest and commitment to the performance. I have been posing it differently since then, and more subtly, but I really do want to know this more, and better.

A result of wanting to know this has been me switching from writing about theatre I see, here, in my deeply personal and uncensored way, to writing about theatre in a more official review style for Weekend Special. My writing there has a much broader audience, especially since it isn’t only people who know me and my blog. I believe the WS readers are mostly Capetonians who want to find out about good theatre in the city, and productions who can use positive words and phrases for publicity. But is it? Are they?

I went to see The Cenotaph of Dan Wa Moriri on Monday night and wrote about it immediately when I got home. It was a most beautiful piece of theatre by an incredible performer. I loved everything about it. All I wanted was to do the piece justice and to make people want to see it. My review went live on Wednesday morning and I can see it has been read a fair number of times. But has it made a difference? Have people read my review and gone to see the show?

If you are reading this, and you read my review, did you go? Have you made a plan to see it? Please let me know.

Lost Property in Jersey City

Finally, after 17 days of squirming, my Thundafund campaign is live. It has been a long, uncomfortable wait but now I can confidently ask for help to get me to the USA to be there in person when my play Lost Property has a reading at this little play festival.

I am so proud of this work, and I have to be there in person because I wrote the play very specifically to be performed by me.

I need $1500 to make this trip real, and I need it before I leave on the 22 May. I am offering some fun and fabulous rewards too, so please take a look and then help. Every tiny bit helps.

Go to this link www.thundafund.com/project/lostproperty and please contribute, and share to anyone you think may be able to help.

With love and gratitude.

Good News

Today has been a really good day from a creative point of view. There have been a series of signs that I am moving in a positive direction – not totally there yet, but moving certainly. I am working my way through getting funding for my trip to the US so I can be at the reading of my play Lost Property at the end of May, and I am preparing for a reading of it here at home before I leave (watch this space for more news of that). I am gearing up for the first ever proper performances of my piece The Deep Red Sea on the 20, and 21 May at the Alexander Bar and Café, and I am preparing for teaching a series of classes and workshops. Also, my favourite thing happens next week, also at the Alexander Bar – we are improvising from Monday to Friday in The Style High Club, a series of long form improv shows dedicated to style – film noir, SA soap, Austen, movies and musical, all made up on the spot.

But the best news of the day is that my rhyming children’s story has been picked up by a really big publisher and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I will share all the details as they evolve, but right now I am grinning, and giggling and delighted.

A Dream of a Beach

(A semi-true story. The feelings are real.)

I feel the pull back to familiarity. There is a soft, furry body lying alongside me. Early risers; those getting children to school or off early to miss the worst of the traffic slam car doors or call loudly from the street to someone still inside.

 

I keep my eyes closed, not ready to let go of the feelings of my dream even though the images are still to coalesce in my mind. Loss. Longing.

 

I dreamed of a beach.

 

I was on my way home, walking through familiar streets, totally confident that I knew the way. I greeted passers-by and smiled and waved. And then I took a different path between two pale and old buildings, following a kitten who had looked at me with recognition on its dirty ginger face.

 

Then I was staring at a beach.

 

I remember thinking in my dream that my street had been close to the sea, right up until a hundred years ago. Woodstock Beach had been filled with swimmers, fishermen and strollers. I remember seeing black and white photos suspended on metal wires in a trendy, retro craft gin store. And I remembered this in my dream. I remembered that I drive on Beach Road.

 

In my dream this was Woodstock Beach. Accessible only to me. I alone knew that it was right there, a few metres from home. Nobody in today’s world would ever find it. It was safe. Our secret.

 

Between the grey, crumbling dolosse birds had made nests. A white whale skeleton formed a ghost wedding arch in the sand. Gentle, pretty seaweed and crusty mussels grew in a rockpool. Another was filled with giant purple and ruby red gem stones. I looked down at my feet making soft dunes where I walked. At the water’s edge I turned around to look back. The city was a smouldering, crumbling urban monster. It was exploding in a disorganisation of more building, more development, more greed.

 

I saw an old woman wave at me from under the frame of a beach umbrella. She looked like she had always been there although I had only noticed her in that moment.

 

I wanted to stay. I started taking my clothes off to get into the water but up close the surface was densely packed with completely transparent plastic bottles.

 

“You can walk on it, but you can’t swim” yelled the woman. Now she was surrounded by crime tape, held by four estate agent boards. She stood up and I saw her police uniform.

 

I thought about leaving and my heart shuddered. If I left I would never find this secret Woodstock beach again. I started scooping the sand in my hand, the damp sand. Could I build a house here? There was nothing to make it with. A hole. I would dig a hole.

A Poem for My Gran and the World

My gran

A long Craven A cigarette with two centimetres of ash

Hanging, hands free, from her lip

Would say

“Too terrible”

When she would recount the hopeless relationships

In the soapies she followed.

“Too terrible” was also for the callers who phoned in

to talk shows with their incurable aches and pains.

My gran could relate.

She said “too terrible” about the food at the function

Which was mostly inedible – she had tried all the cakes to make sure.

And a special, drawn out “too terrible” was reserved

For the fashions of the day, worn by me

The first-born grandchild with “a mind of her own, mind you”.

“Too terrible” was for how she felt after a restless night,

Or how the Joburg summer heat made sweat bead on her upper lip

Or darken her silk neckline.

And it was “too terrible” the way people were treated,

Or the way others drove, or hooted, or slammed on brakes.

 

My gran, whose telephone voice

And jewellery box, and teiglach I miss

Managed to capture a helpless, hilarious, and most deep humanity

In those words, “too terrible”

It’s “too terrible for words”.

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