Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

open letter to Fred Abrahamse and Marcel Meyer

Dear Fred and Marcel

It has been extremely difficult to keep the control it has taken to not sink with you into the deep mud of this tacky and painful story, but think it’s time to put this to bed. Fred and Marcel, I accept your half-hearted attempt at apologising and your retraction of my ‘banning order’. I will hurriedly blog my heart out, moving the offending posts further and further down the pages of meganshead.

I have decided that I will keep doing what I do, even though there are those who see it as a conflict of interests. What started out as a space to rant about badly made theatre in Cape Town, has by virtue of its new found popularity become a serious space where I will treat myself and the work I see ‘as if’ I was an important voice. What started out as a casual commentary (albeit a bit personal and bitchy) read by my friends, has become increasingly widely read because of this scandal and now I have a readership that has doubled if not tripled. I will make myself very clear from now on. I remain independent, unaffiliated, un-objective and uncompromising. I will see and write about the shows I am invited to, and those I choose to pay for and see.

I am bitterly disappointed that the NewSpace has been smeared by this ‘monster’. I was very excited about it and committed to the idea of it. The first shows I ever saw as a student were there and my first lifelong friendships with theatre people were made there. It was a space that made the kind of theatre that sticks with you forever and that you aspire to.

I would like to request one thing from you. Since you emailed your original letter to me to your entire database (which included those who know me and those who don’t, friends, colleagues, managements etc), I think it makes sense that you email them your ‘retraction’ too, since many of the people you included on your list are not meganshead readers and have no idea that you were encouraged to retract.

With regard to your suggestion that we meet, the ball is in your court. I have no interest in pursuing this myself, but if you feel it is necessary then I will sit down with you.

Sincerely

Megan Furniss (nee Choritz)

Previous

A bok by any other name

Next

post script

12 Comments

  1. Steven T Sawyer

    Dear Megan, I read with great hilarity the on going banter between Fred & yourself , and find it really sad that you are all so self absorbed you seem to be missing a few very basic points here . The public the great force that putts bums on seats and pays for you the artist has the best and most honest say and that is stop expecting us to pay to watch crapp .Theatre in Cape Town used to be a real treat but of late like the cape winter all is too long and depressing. I talked to a staff member in Pick & Pay the other day and i actually should give you his email address so he can give his review of Dalliances personally , his words do not go to see it do not waste your money. Sadly a lot of amazing talent gets overlooked in this town due to the same old faces being used again and again, so with the same old face goes the same old performance. I find it sad thet Fred and Marcel had to respond in such an unprofessional manner to your personal opinion after all a review is a review good or bad and if they are afraid of bad reviews then do not attempt to start at the new space theatre with a dismal Sondheim failure . Please God it works or else we will all be banned from his new baby and then we will all of us the great theatre going public have to become masters of disguise just to get into Computicket. Easy on the reviews Megan, we wouldnt like Fred to rehearse one of his assasins too well ( just joking) Steven

  2. jo

    Of course there is bigger issue lurking here. When the NewSpace announced themselves it was pretty much as a reopening or continuance of The Space/People’s Space Theatres.
    Not as a rehabilitation of the building which once hosted these famous theatres. There has always seemed to be something slightly shady and spurious about this attempt to market an as yet unseen ‘product’ in the cloth of a historically revered and significant exemplar. What gave them this right? Was it somehow assumed that the values and virtues of the old Space somehow lodged – like dry seeds -in the decrepit mortar of 44 Long Street, merely awaiting a sprinkling of water, gold-dust, gorious optimism or calculated opportunism?
    We should be warned to observe with rigor such shapeshifting mystifications.
    The Space opened with the premiere of an indigenous play, Statements, an attempt to reflect the world outside the theatre’s doors. The NewSpace ( will it host as part of its cultural-commercial mix a NewsCafe?) will open with a ten years after revisit of Assassins. Let the games begin…

  3. jo

    To contextualize my previous comment, this quote from the City of C.Town:

    “This pioneer of fringe theatre in the country has staged almost 300 productions. Now 36 years later, with the encouragement of its founding members, it has re-opened its doors to theatre goers as a welcome addition to the Cape Town theatre scene,” says Fred Abrahamse the Artistic Director of New Space Theatre.

    The City of Cape Town has contributed R30 000 towards the opening of the facility.

    “The Space has a very special place in the history of theatre not only in terms of the talent it produced, but also because of the important platform it created for free expression during the apartheid years,” says Councillor Simon Grindrod, Mayoral Committee Member for Economic, Social Development and Tourism.

    “Through their productions in the 80s, The Space took a courageous stand against an unjust system, and Cape Town is proud to have it back as part of a new democratic cultural landscape.

    “The City will do everything in its power to create an enabling environment for the growth of the local arts and culture industry.

    “The performing arts is not only a tool for social cohesion; it is also an economic development imperative. Tourists visit Cape Town in order to experience our local art and cultural talent.

    “The New Space Theatre will become a key tourist attraction. I have asked my department to see how the City can establish an arts and culture tourism function so that Cape Town can grow its tourism assets further,” says Cllr Grindrod.

    I am sorry to go on about this, but something is not right here. One cannot conceive of a theatre which is ‘for’ all the above, yet ‘bans’ criticism. They belong in different universes. If they are to be forced into the same universe it suggests that economic rather than artistic considerations rule, and that a degree of untruth is being spun to paper the cracks. What do the NewSpace’s august trustees, people like Winston Ntshona and Bishop Tutu make of this?
    One can go further and say that, while there has been no Space for the past twenty years, the flame has been kept burning, although often ignored, and mainly by ‘small’ productions. Many of these small productions only reached the view of wider Cape Town via the commitment of Megan. Commitment to SEE a lot of what is on, and also to share with us her response to what she has been seeing. I am reminded of Grotowski’s comment that the work would reach a wide audience through the reports of those few present…

  4. five finger death punch

    The NewSpace was created by accountants with property development testosterone and a huge bond to service. The kind that are turning the city into Orange County. Or the Waterfront. It is another eye glazed tongue wagging kill before the world cup reflex every good villager dreams of capitalizing on. Someone doing the development numbers realized there used to be a theatre there, hey quite a famous theatre, and the theatre nostalgia dollar kicked in. They know nothing about theatre and couldn’t care
    who or what graced the stage, as long as “someone who knew what they where doing”put bums on the newly designed seating arrangements optimized for numbers. Look at the torpid utterly corrupt history of Maynardville’s pitching process. We are heading for more of the same. The present artistic-financial arrangement is perfectly suited. Snug and safe in our own inferiority. Otherwise Rob Van Vuuren’s energy would have opened the doors for starters.

  5. Tante B

    C’mon kids. Grow up. (I can say that because I am 80 years old) If you want to read a really good review of a play, which amongst other things, calls the play “To be or not to be” ” a walking corpse of a comedy……..””this production has the spring, color and freshness of long refrigerated celery……
    This production has Maria vibrating like a pneumatic drill …..

    For sheer enjoyment and entertainment (and hedimification (education) go to:
    http://www.theater.nytimes.com/ref/theater/Brantley.bio.hotmail or if I haven’t got that quite right, : Ben Brantley’s theater review of “To Be or Not to Be” in today’s NY Times. Enjoy.

  6. Sterkte doll. You have handled this with dignity and great restraint. I don’t give a toss about what’s going on in theatre in Cape Town, but I do get annoyed when a blogger gets a snotklap for speaking her mind.

  7. The Saint

    Have the boys been big enough to send the retraction to all those to whom the original letter was sent ?

  8. megan

    They said they would!

  9. Sceptical

    Have you had any response or communication with them at all recently? If so, what? As someone who has invested time and energy into this debarcle, I’d love a bit of clarity/closure…

  10. Tante B

    I agree with Sceptical. A great deal of harm has been done to Megan’s good name and reputation in your theater community, and a lot need to be done by Fred and Marcel to compensate her for subjecting her to such “ridicule and contempt” We all need to see it here, in this blog . WE ARE SORRY, SORRY, SORRY – It is they who should be severely reprimanded by “The Authorities” of your theater community. Such is my opinion. Okay, so I am Megan’s Aunt, but I think my opinion valid, nonetheless.

  11. Candice van Litsenborgh

    Megan, I’m very glad that Fred and Marcel have made an apology and withdrawn the banning.

    This is just my opinion, for the people who seem to have an issue with the choice of material at the NewSpace. What’s with apparent nastiness about a Sondheim show finally being done in this country? There is not a singer on earth who wouldn’t give their arms and legs to be able to perform in a Sondheim musical. I would play a tree in Into the Woods just to get to say I’d been part of a Sondheim show.

    TUT students spend an entire year on his work desperately hoping that one day they may get to even see one of his works performed. People in musical theatre in this country have been more excited about this first show than the reopening of this theatre. Why should South Africa not get to see everything the rest of the world got to see years ago?

    Now I am lucky enough to be a part of the cast of Assassins and it is an honour to sing what that man has written. I would love to perform in indigenous work, and if we had a composer who was already writing like Stephen Sondheim I would be doing everything I could to get into that show. But I’d still want to be in a Sondheim show over anything.

    We are a young country and a young theatre and we cannot expect to grow unless we first feed on the classics that have gone before and the great work that was and is being created all over the world. South African theatre isn’t more worthwhile simply because it’s South African, and an older American musical doesn’t necessarily have less value because it’s older and American? Yes we have great talent here, but so does the rest of the world and Sondheim is one of those greats.

    To the majority of South Africans Stephen Sondheim is something new and exciting. They’ve just seen Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd and they’re ready to step into a theatre and watch Assassins because of that movie. At least they might get to thinking about politics afterwards. I’m not sure they’d have that much on their minds after watching a Disney musical. Though I see value in something like High School Musical too because it will get children into a theatre when they might never even have considered going before.

    It shouldn’t matter why the NewSpace was created or what you believe its agenda is. It’s a theatre. It’s OUR theatre and it’s what we make of it. It is there to serve the community if the community lets it do that. Ultimately we go to the shows we want to see and at least with the Sondheim, Eugene O’Neill or Moliere at the NewSpace I know I’m getting quality writing.

    As a performer and theatre-goer I’m intrigued with the shows that have been chosen for the first season. I intend to be there for every single one I can afford to see on my tiny artists salary.

  12. Charles J. Fourie

    Hi there Megan. Love your blog!

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén