Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Shit on meganshead AND feed me to the sharks!

I don’t know whether to be glad or sad, I tell ya. I haven’t had this much flak since I wrote my first ever review of a play here on my blog meganshead, over a year ago. I refer to the hoo haa that my review of Othello has generated.

The good news is that people are reading it, I suppose. That’s obviously the whole idea. And the by-product of that is that people are going to go to the theatre, in spite of or because of my recommendations or criticism. I wish I believed that the students were as committed in action as they were in words though. I never see students at the theatre unless it is one of their own productions. Student discounts that are offered are not taken advantage of and even special comps go unused when it comes to student attendance. Anyway, that’s a whole other can of worms.

I think it is only fair to remind my readership, both old and Othello new, that this blog is independent, unaffiliated and unsolicited. I go out there, see theatre and write about it. It is not my job, nor am I paid for it. I only get comps if I am invited, and I generally buy all my own tickets. I try and see as much as I can as often as I can. and then I am as honest as I can be in my response to it.

Of course I am biased. I work in the theatre and write about my own experiences. I am totally loyal to the productions I am involved in, and subject to the same joys and disappointments meted out by the critics. Most people have been big enough to receive even my harshest criticism with an understanding of where it comes from and I have had long chats with people about their productions and even been pulled in to help on occasions. That’s the game. That’s how it works.

Now, I have been made to feel like the Wicked Witch of the West about my review of Othello and I keep rereading it to check my “illiteracy, prostitution” and all the other horrible things I am accused of. I say amazing things about Vaneshran Arumugam and Ariella Caira. I say great things about the director, Geoffrey Hyland. I write about the production in a careful and deliberate way, complete with a sensitivity that the cast are students. I give reasons for my opinion why I think Iago was unsuccessful. Which is one small part of the whole review.

I really hope that I don’t have to try and justify myself here again. I really hope that the hoo ha will attract people to the theatre in droves. I really hope that the students will arm themselves with the viewing of many many productions, both good and bad, to become active members of a difficult, amazing, magical, cruel, crazy, unfair, life altering world of live theatre.

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11 Comments

  1. Jason

    What have you done -this- time megan?? Ruffling some feathers are you? Well, GOOD ON YOU! In my opinion, South Africans live in a mediocre mind-set where bad service is acceptable to so many people.

    Theatre attendance in South Africa is generally a rarity, its almost as though I would expect to be looked up and down if I told people I attended Aida, like they’d be thinking “What the hells he talking about Aida? They’re ‘mos’ a real estate firm”.

    I feel that when somebody puts something out there for the general public, they must accept the criticism and praises, or either/or. I mean, if I were to tell you I like wearing ladies undergarmets while I shop at Woolworths, am I not opening myself up for judgement and criticism?

    Where is the link to the review you gave on Othello? Im itching to read it now.

    Keep up the good work. I dig reading your blog!

  2. Gillian

    Dear Megan,
    You say that you write about Othello in a careful and deliberate way, complete with a sensitivity that the cast are students. Um. I suppose that means your throwaway lines like…”But Bianca and her belly dancing friends were just plain hideous. Student extras.” How sensitive is that?

    While a lot of the debate has gone around the role of Iago, I have to let you know that the irony of all this is that I happen to know Charlie Keegan – yes, one of Iago’s friends that you sneer about – and the irony is that Charlie is quite bewildered by all this fuss and has been interested in and accepting of what you say about the way he and his director have interpreted the role. I think he is as amazed as you are by the response. He also realises that critics are the lifeblood of theatre and respects you for that.

    FOM (Friend of Megan), Jason says “I feel that when somebody puts something out there for the general public, they must accept the criticism and praises, or either/or.” That means you too. If you can dish the dirt in public, you need to take it on the chin when people disagree with your opinions – even when it hurts.

  3. megan

    Dear Gillian
    I think you misunderstood. I am not hurt. I am just wondering what happened to my opinions about THE REST OF THE SHOW! I am delighted to hear that Charlie is more man than his manic friends and I share his bewilderment at all of the fuss.
    I am getting so much more mileage out of this than I thought possible. Thank you.

  4. Athlone

    Personally speaking I’m delighted to see Megan getting this flack. A typical case of being able to hand it out, but reluctant to take it.

    I note that these reviews are not paid, which is the most encouraging mark of discernement of the South African press I have heard in a long time. It is interesting that Megan states “I am getting so much more mileage out of this than I thought possible” – may I diagnose Munchaussen’s Syndrome by Theatre Critic Proxy?

  5. megan

    Ok Athlone, now you’ve lost me. I get that you’re delighted and then… whoopsie, I don’t know what you’re on about.

  6. Ashton

    Because of the rumpus around this production I decided to go and see it again and have come to the conclusion that Megan has been unkind and unfair about this production. This is an excellent show with Hyland’s usual genius in full throttle and the UCT Drama students showing the kind of potential that will make her eat her hat one day. Charlie Keegan as Iago is fresh, new and simply splendid – we will certainly be hearing more about him. Albert Pretorius is far from wooden. We will also hear more about him. Why was she so unkind to these actors and so fulsome in praise of others? The one thing one requires from theatre critics is fairness. She has not been fair.

  7. Oi, how shitchat hit the thespo-fan! I agree with FOM Jason, and – being also a fully qualified FOM for 25-odd years, I really think that some people got hurt by the crit – sorry, dudes and dudettes, read the full piece and see that it is really balanced. Oh, OK, it is balanced in favour of those who (the crit felt) did well.

    So? Where’s the problem!? Grow up already! Part of being a student is being protected from the outside world (some say mollycoddled.) But it’s better that you face the media and, I feel, Megan’s crit is as fair as can be expected.

  8. River

    Hehe.

    A fair and balanced review it was indeed.

    I’m amused by the over-sensitivity of those involved with the production and their self-serving attempts to defend themselves.

    South African theatre, and Cape Town in particular are far to used to the only criticism coming their way being from a select few reviewers who are far too
    forgiving in their assesments (partly I suspect, due to their love of socializing with performers and their desire not to offend)

    Even if this had been a scathing review, which it most certainly wasn’t, they still haven’t developed the thickness of skin required to take on board valid criticism without protest and resentment.

    My god if they can’t handle the criticism of a local blog how on earth do they think they are ever going to rise to the level of true professionals ?

    Keep it up Megan, and next time feel free to lay in, as long as you’re being true to your personal views there’s absolutely no need to fear the wrath of an angry cast.

    And to the cast and crew – toughen the fuck up.

  9. Sherna

    Sorry “River” but can you inform me of which CAST members need to “toughen the fuck up” as a result of their inability to “handle the criticism”? I am in direct contact with the cast on a regular basis and they are completely aware of this mishmash and have maintained that they respect individual opinions and criticism and welcome it openly with the knowledge that they are still STUDENTS of their craft and need every bit of criticism they can get in order to evolve and strengthen as actors. With that, they have felt that they are certainly in no position to add fire to the debate.

    So, again, inform me which of the CAST need to, as you so eloquently put it, need to “toughen the fuck up”.

  10. Daniel Galloway

    A point very well made Sherna.

    River (I love it when they hide behind pseudo names at 2:15 in the morning and get brave on line) seems to be of the opinion that the “cast and crew” are up in arms. The only people directly involved with the show who have commented thus far on this blog site are the director and myself!!! And if you have taken the time to read the comments you would surely agree that they are simply answering some questions…

    Not a SINGLE cast or crew member has made comment.

    Am a little confused with ‘river’s’ intentions- but thrilled that our “student” production of Othello has received so much attention!

    Daniel

  11. Trevor du Buisson

    I think it is worth reminding those students who have taken such offense to the opinion held by ‘meganshead’ that you are indeed still students. You are still studying, and you are still learning. That learning process includes learning to take all criticism in your stride good and bad.

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