I went to my first Let’s Get Intimate last night. I have as mixed feelings about the concept as I do about the performances which were a mixed bag. So, how it works is on Sunday nights (at 1930) there is a kind of showcase/open mic session at the Intimate theatre. Kati, the ‘boss’ of The Intimate does a really good job of making the venue and bar and even outside look pretty and red and inviting. Last night was obviously not a good judge of how successful this is. It was freezing cold and coming down in buckets. I think the audience (most of whom came late) totalled about 14 and I think a lot of them were recycled performers.
Graham, Fuzzy and Pitchie performed two songs from SOHAR to start. I guess they are used to tiny audiences. Brendan Murray emceed the evening and he is cute and charming and sometimes even funny. Then was the turn of a stand-up comic (forgive me but I have NO recollection of his name, which is probably just as well) who did a dreary little set with a couple of slides. He had arrived late to set up and I thought he was irritating. I’m not that good with stand-up in general though. Next up was a cute singer/songwriter/pianist called Frieda. I have auditioned her before. She is very talented and has a beautiful voice. She needs some direction though. Her stuff is very complicated. Very Tawdry Amos.
Then there was a break. Then there was a guy called Stan who is one of the performers of Like Fire, Ilana Wetzler’s collection of male singer/songwriters who perform on Sunday nights in May at my favourite venue The Obz Cafe. He was ok. The magician didn’t pitch. Then Godfrey Johnson did three Brel numbers. I love Godfrey’s Brel. I am biased. I directed his show when he performed them and he does them just the way I like it. That was it. Oh, I did win the free VIDA E coffees for heckling the emcee.
The performers were lucky last night. They had me doing sound. That’s because I didn’t want anyone touching our mixing desk which is set up for SOHAR. They all sounded beautiful through Pitchie’s mics and our speakers, amps and desk.
So here’s the rub. Last night was a bit of a musical variety show. Which was a bit boring. I suppose the real challenge is to get a strong and contrasting line up every week. I have been slack. Kati has asked us to come and do some TheatreSports and I think we should and we haven’t yet.
Back in the old days Melinda Ferguson used to run ‘Theatre Voltaire’ up in Jozi on Sunday nights. First it happened at the Junction, a seedy downtown club (seedy and downtown were different in the very early 90’s) and then at the Coffee Society in Rockey Street. What was brilliant about Theatre Voltaire was the range of stuff that people came to show. Strippers, fan dancers, scenes from new plays, short films, stand-up, drag. There was always a huge audience who were very vocal about their likes and dislikes. We fought like cats for slots at Voltaire. A good response could determine a future for whatever you were doing. I performed the first ever ten minute version of The Rhino Woman at Theate Voltaire. It went on to become a brilliant one woman show that even had a sequel, The Return of the Rhino Woman.
So maybe I’m stuck in the past, and maybe I want thrings to be ‘like they used to’. But maybe it’s a different world out there. I guess people are not that interested in each other’s work anymore. None of the students on the Drama School campus have come to TheatreSports or SOHAR. They weren’t there last night. Where is everybody?