Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Alexander Bar (Page 1 of 7)

the best improv fest

I know it hardly makes sense for me to be talking about the next best thing when the best thing of the moment hasn’t even started yet, but I have to. You see, although From Koe’siestes to Kniedlach hasn’t opened yet (it previews on Tuesday and Wednesday and opens on Thursday at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square this week), and that has been my main and most absorbing focus, once it is open I whizz back to Cape Town without a moment to catch my breath and start playing my heart out in ImproGuise‘s fifth annual improv fest.

Starting on Monday 6 March, and with a different format every night until Saturday 11 March, this is the improv festival I cannot stop thinking about. The intimate Alexander Bar theatre hosts us each night at 7pm for an hour long exploration of on the spot creativity, team work, imagination and fun. Nothing thrills me more than a week of improv every night for almost a whole week. And I am playing with Cape Town’s finest improvisers and make-believers. The Alexander theatre is small, with only 42 seats a night, and the different formats we are playing are a combination of audience favourites and ‘brand-new-never-tried-before’. My old favourite is Documentary; a completely made up documentary (think fake news only much more creative) based on a few suggestions from the audience. The format I am the most excited to try out is Tribute, part documentary, part tribute show. We make up the band, the members, the people who influenced them, and then we sing their songs, based on titles given by the audience. There is also Naked Improv, Duos, Westword and Alexander Abbey (our nod to period drama). I am salivating.

Improv for my life

For those of you who know me you know that I love directing theatre, performing plays and writing them, but my big love, if I were forced to choose, is improvising. I am the happiest and luckiest when I am making things up, especially in front of an audience. I have been very clever about living my dream. For the past 24 years I have been doing this almost every week, in some form or another. I remember thinking, when I was in my 30s that there was an age limit to this form of play, but I haven’t stopped and I love it more all the time.

Last night we practiced a new format that we’ll be ‘premiering’ at ImproGuise‘s fifth annual improv festival (can you believe we have done 5 improv festivals?) that takes place at my favourite Alexander Bar from 6 to 11 March. This new format is called Tribute and how it works (kind of) is that the first half is the back story of the band or musicians we are paying tribute to, and the second half is the tribute band playing their songs. Everything is made up. For those of you who know me, singing is not a strong suit of mine, but I love it nonetheless, and I will be belting it out with the best of us. I cannot wait.

Every single of the five nights is a different format, and the Alexander Bar is teeny, so you should start booking for the ones you definitely want to see.

Also starting in March is our new Improv for Beginners training course. I haven’t been involved in the teaching or running of one of these for a bit, and this year Tandi Buchan and I will be doing it together. It is also another favourite thing of mine to do. If you are keen, please email Tandi on tandibuchan@gmail.com for info on dates, times and costs. This course will change how you do life, and it is for everybody, so come and play.

2 Parrots and a Sandcastle

IMG_6968So, my way of starting the new year is with three improv shows at my fave Alexander Bar, this coming Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. I will be performing with a different improviser each night, for an hour of made up stuff, with no pre-plan or any idea at all about what we will be doing. I cannot wait.

The line up of performers joining me is unbelievable and I am so lucky to have these people to come and play, and fulfil my dream and first love, improv.

Tandi Buchan, AD of Improguise, our improv troupe, joins me on Thursday night. We have been improvising together for over twenty years now. In fact, Tandi is like my improv wife. We are so safe with each other, but still continue to surprise each other. Tandi is imagination. Tandi is a storytelling machine and brilliant characters. Tandi is Noel Coward and South African Soap. I love being on stage with her.

Friday night is Brett Anderson night. It is also the night of his birthday, so double celebration. Brett ‘take it and run with’ it Anderson is a different kind of partner in crime. Wordsmith, rhyme guy and creative punster, Brett gives me a run for my money with quick thinking and wittiness. I so enjoy being on stage with him.

On Saturday it’s Leon Clingman’s chance to join me. I have been waiting for a chance to share a stage for an hour with Leon. We really get each other as improvisers. With Leon I can take risks. With Leon there is conflict and drama and relationships. Leon is my improv husband. I know it is going to be interesting, and amazing.

I don’t want you to have to choose which night to join us. Come to all three. It’s cheap as bad gossip. R80 if you book online.

The Fabulous Finkelsteins, and me

1351_the_finkelsteins_are_coming_to_dinner_photo_nardus_engelbrecht_4(Photo Nardus Engelbrecht)

This little lovely play has been a lifesaver for me on so many levels, and as we turn towards our final week of this run (it has flown by with joy and delight) I am beginning to reflect on some of the secondary enjoyments of being an actor person in a successful production.

Being ‘just an actor’ doesn’t come naturally to me. I am a bossy, over compensating publicity maniac, a used car salesman of the theatre, hell bent on begging, pleading, cajoling and sometimes even paying for an audience to come and see our work. But The Finkelsteins are Coming to Dinner has managed to get its own audience for us to enjoy. I haven’t had to nag anyone. When I default into thinking about who hasn’t come and who has said they would but haven’t I quickly change that old worn script, because, who cares?

I look out into the audience (I only allow myself to see actual faces during the curtain call) without knowing who is there, and it is a surprise and thrill to find out at the end that there were people in the audience who I know. I am able to receive the love and warmth of strangers and friends alike, and I am completely able to play utterly unselfconsciously on stage without thinking about who is there.

I can check up on our bookings and delight in how well they are doing without panicking about the few nights that are still not sold out. I can allow myself to not check up on bookings at all. I can walk into the space knowing that I will be generous and present and do my best (and hope it will be the best night ever, every time) and honour the work, without thinking about any single aspect of production, or admin, or technical, or publicity.

Yes, it helps that the Alexander Bar team have created the perfect venue for these perfect gems of shows. Yes, it helps that I share the stage with two, true superstar men, and let me name them again, Andrew Laubscher and David Viviers. Yes, there is a brilliant debut playwright Richard Kaplan whose play I was lucky to have been cast in. Yes, I can’t help but think of the future of this play and whether there is one, and then I have to stop myself; it’s not my job right now. Right now I live in the luxury of having a day off before our final week of eight shows, and I am going to love every single moment of them.

 

The Finkelsteins Are Coming (to Dinner)

The Finkelsteins-5Tadah! Here is our poster.

The truth is that I am procrastinating, right this second. Instead of writing this post I should be learning my words. There are a lot of them. And it’s been a while since I was in a conventional play, with dialogue, and scenes, and other gorgeous actors, and a director, and set and props. It is fabulous and scary and challenging and hilarious and fun. And there are a lot of words.

I am in a brand new play, just written, (by Richard Kaplan) and this is the first time it is being performed. It premiers at the CT Fringe, and then we go on to do a run at my favourite Alexander Bar. We did a play reading of it at the beginning of the year, and everyone loved it so much we decided to do the production. We are me, Andrew Laubscher and David Viviers, directed by Adrian Collins. It’s a pretty phenomenal team. The Finkelsteins are Coming to Dinner is a funny, heartwarming, odd, gay, Jewish love/ghost story.

I am excited and nervous, in both parts. And I am hoping people come. You can book for the fringe here.

The Worst Auditioner in the World

There has been something that has kept me giggling for 3 weeks. I haven’t been talking about it much because I have been preoccupied with Niqabi Ninja which is pretty harrowing stuff. Sexual harassment revenge stories are not for sissies. Now that Niqabi Ninja has opened, I want to tell you about why I have spent most afternoons these last 3 weeks giggling, laughing and guffawing my head off.

Nicola Date asked me to help her with her one woman piece The Worst Auditioner In The World. She did a trial run of it at The Masque earlier in the year, and next week on 28, 29 and 30 July she has a 3 performance showcase at Cape Town’s (and my) favourite small, experimental theatre, The Alexander Bar. Go here to book.

Nicola has written a hilarious little script, all based on her true experiences at auditions and castings. I know they are true because similar ones have happened to me. There is the casting for a cave person, the outrageous imaginary eating, swimming, sleeping, walking, dancing when something crazy happens, the implausible, unreasonable, the totally unimprovisable. There are the questions, the retakes, the hopes lifted and dashed. And our worst auditioner keeps trying; tail up, smile fixed, brain quietly doing somersaults at the things asked of it.

What fun laughs it has been playing with Nicola as we stifle our laughs and force ourselves to be serious while we work. Every time we see each other we add another silly thing which keeps us amused. Please come and look at this thing. And laugh with us.

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