Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Alexander Bar (Page 1 of 7)

Confession Sessions grows up

It’s two days until Confession Sessions opens for a 6 show run at Alexander Bar. This show pretty much leaves me with a permanent smile on my face and here is why.

Last year I was asked to direct and facilitate a workshopped production with four AFDA Live Performance honours students; a production they could take to the Grahamstown festival. I met my students and chose a name for the production on day one, so that the forms could be filled out for the Gtown application. We had no idea what we would be doing, or how it would even be a thing. But. We worked hard, overcame the usual student challenges, met, argued, rehearsed, threw out, added, practiced, spoke for hours, and finally presented the product, Confession Sessions.

The hard work had paid off. We had ended up making an original, fresh, contemporary piece of theatre with dynamic characters and an interesting and engaging performance style.

After a successful experimental festival at AFDA, a great response at Gtown and two sold out performances back here at UCT, it looked like it was done and dusted, but it did seem like a waste. This show deserved a wider audience.

Fast forward to this year. Four now graduated and professional actors decide to do it again. What a pleasure. What a treat. Exciting and productive pick up rehearsals have left me beyond excited to present this piece again. Confession Sessions is what I love about what theatre can be. Pure and successful ensemble. Great storytelling. Brilliant characters. Hilarious moments. Originality. Entertainment.

If you are a young person, or have one around, I am certain that this show is the one that could turn them onto theatre in a big way. Superheroes with problems, crazy people from South Africa, relationship troubles, a mad funeral for a slain superhero, an arrest, an interrogation, a job application, a memory, ordinary people helped, a therapy session.

Thank you Melanie Aiff, Motheo Madisa, Rendani Mufamadi, and Trent Rowe. You delight me. Break legs for this run.

Book for the shows here. R90 online, R100 at the door.

Improv excitement

I sprang out of bed today with the happiest sproing because on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night I am going to be improvising with ImproGuise and we are doing a different improv format on each of the nights and this makes me very damn sproingy.

We are going to be playing our hearts out at my favourite theatre, The Alexander Bar, and we are on at 9pm and we want you to come and witness the fun and join in the laughter. On Thursday night we will be warming up with old school TheatreSports; short form, competitive improv games, with suggestions and scores from the audience. Friday night is reserved for our new format Tribute. We have only played this once before and we were transported by it. The first half is an improvised documentary about a made up band. Then, after suggestions for titles from the audience, we pay tribute to the band by singing four of their songs; all made up and never heard before. You need to be there to believe it. Finally, on Saturday night we’ll be doing SuperScene, where each player directs a scene using the other players, and the audience votes for which ones they want to continue seeing, until there is the last and final, winning SuperScene.

You know me; any opportunity to get my improv on. I am so, so sproingy. Please go here to book. The venue is tiny and you only have 3 nights to choose from. Yayayayayayyayayayyay!

PS. I was a little bit underwhelmed by the response from actors regarding my proposal for improv masterclasses. Maybe you want to come check out the show and then see?

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.

 

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