Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

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The Difference

A child is dead and her mother is badly burned, fighting for her life in hospital here in Cape Town. An appeal by the woman’s husband’s employer has been on Facebook. This husband is a good man, from Malawi, who ended up in Knysna to make a life. This man has lost his baby daughter and may lose his wife too. An unbearable loss. I know that people will open their hearts to help this man.

This man’s daughter died because his wife and child tried to outrun the fire. They were on foot. They couldn’t. There was no way. Now I know people who have lost everything they own, but they were able to escape by throwing their children and animals into their cars and outdriving the fire. In fact, there are photos of cars burned to their frames, on the side of the road, or in garages that no longer exist, ¬†and I think it is because there were not enough drivers for all the cars. This is the difference between black and white here, in case anyone was worried that I was making it about race. This is about race. Everything is about race.

The banks are jumping in, and helping in Knysna. Of course they are. They own the houses. Those are their mortgages and bonds. ABSA and FNB did not help in Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay. Those shacks were of no interest to them. This is about race. Everything is about race.

The difference is not who lost, but how. And how they will be helped to rebuild and fix. The difference is in driving not running. The difference is in where the banks will help.

I still stand by my post of yesterday. This could be the fire that rewrites Knysna, and South Africa, in how people choose to respond to it, but I think it will take more than just me asking for it. This is about race. Everything is about race.

Imagining Knysna into a brand new World

(One of Ivo Vegter’s devastating images on Daily Maverick)

I have shared the shock, horror and sadness with the country as we watched Knysna burn. In a rare moment of equalising, the fire took from all; rich, poor, old, young, those starting out with first ever homes, those nearing the end of their lives in old age homes, those squeezed into desperate situations in wooden shacks, and tiny rich families in huge mansions on the hill.

The efforts to help people and animals have been heartwarming. We South Africans are pretty good in a crisis. Calls for food, clothes, toiletries, pet food, and money have been met with a resounding response.

So is this not the perfect opportunity to acknowledge that Knysna has a population who live in dire conditions in their everyday lives, where unemployment, poverty, a severe lack of formal housing, TB and other poverty borne illnesses are rife?

I woke up this morning with a dream like vision that every person with insurance in Knysna skimmed a tithe off their claim, and built a second house for someone with no house. Not a shitty little charity shack, but an actual house, a home. Two homes. So, instead of rebuilding exactly what you had in both instances, people with insurance made a conscious decision to make something smaller, cheaper and more modest, and then made another one, for someone else to live in.

I know this will never, ever happen. And because it won’t, the playing fields will never be levelled, and we will never be having the same conversations unless there is a massive natural disaster. And even then, it will be a conversation that happens in that tiny moment before everything goes back to what it was.

But, imagine. Imagine if the brave, heartbroken, wrecked, grateful, passionate mostly white rich people of Knysna decided in this moment to change the town, the province, the country, the world? Imagine.

Thinking Improv

I went to a meeting yesterday to find out what a potential client needed. She had said she wanted improv theatre for a client presentation, but I wasn’t convinced that what she was asking for was improv; i.e. performers making stuff up. I was pretty sure she wanted industrial theatre; performance to support a boring event of power points and speeches.

I was right. She had been handed the notion of improv theatre by one of her superiors, didn’t really understand what it was, but couldn’t let go of the name of the thing. She was great, and responsive, when I explained to her the difference and what I thought she was asking for, but the default name of improv theatre stuck around for the meeting, and I was the one who had to let go.

And so I used the basic tools of improv for the rest of the meeting. I listened. I built on her ideas. We worked as a team. We developed the scene. I got her excited. She got me excited. We were so creative, and funny, and enthusiastic. When we walked down to the parking lot it felt like we had finished a healthy workout.

I am writing our ideas into a concept document and I have all the right improv energy to do it. Love improv. Even when it isn’t the thing.

 

Jealous

I have a confession to make. I suffer from jealousy. It’s one of the ugliest and least useful things to suffer from, and even though I know this, I often find it hard to shift. I am so aware of my jealousy I even think about how others may be jealous of me when things are going well for me.

I am usually only jealous about work stuff though. I am not jealous about things, or money, or cars, or diamond jewels, but I am often jealous of roles, or work opportunities, or big budgets to direct plays, or full houses of people who paid R150 a ticket. It brings out the worst in me, this jealousy. It is so pointless and frustrating and rage inducing.

And when I breathe, and look inward, I am mostly able to acknowledge all I do have, and all the amazing things I do actually do. Honestly, I have absolutely no reason to compare myself to anyone else, and it is an unnecessary evil, and I try and control the impulse. But then I see on social media that someone is doing this thing that I suddenly really want to be doing, and off I go.

This is the beginning of me dealing with my jealousy. I am hoping a confessional purge will help.

Limbless without Internet

With the law of averages it was bound to happen, and now we are in it. On Sunday morning we woke up to no internet connection and a stone dead land line. The usual jumping through hoops with Hellkom is always a challenge with on-line forms pretty unworkable, phone in fault systems utterly laborious and maze-like in their inefficiency, and of course, the usual lying reply of “they’re working on it right now and will call you in 5 minutes” a kind of standard response if you ever get to speak to a human.

I can’t believe how much of my work depends on me being online. I feel completely bereft and crippled. I am currently using my cell phone as a hotspot so I can write this, because I feel like I have broken a promise I made to myself to write every day.

And I keep remembering bits and pieces of things I needed to do, or said I would do and am not doing. Even just paying my cellphone account, or sending a press release.

I am totally useless at trying to imagine what needs to happen in order for it to be magically fixed. Big Friendly is a tech angel in my life when it comes to that, only he is feeling limbless without online access too. We are like a household that has been struck by a tech plague.

So stay with me online friends, and virtually hold my hand and un social media’ed thoughts while I sit, immobile in the real world until connectivity is restored.

White Night

I went to a thing last night at one of our theatres. This is not about the thing itself, but more about who these things are for. There were two shows going on; one in the big theatre and another in the small one, but they were white shows, and almost all of the audience was white too. The whole feeling in the space was one of whiteness. And the whole thing felt like there were a hundred white elephants in the room. Big, old, stinky, immovable, Surf white elephants filled the space and all the white people squeezed past them and said nothing.

Now of course it is funny that I am saying this. I am white. My date was white. And most of the people I spoke to (except for the people at the door, obviously, and the ushers, obviously, and the bar people, of course) were also white. The people I spoke to and connected with are fantastic, and enwhitenened, and aware and concerned. But we were all in a huge room together in Cape Town, South Africa, and the whiteness was blinding in the night.

This is not how we change things. Almost all white casts playing to almost all white audiences is not ok. And we will pay for these mistakes if we aren’t already paying. We need to change it right now.

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