Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Andile Vellem

Waiting to become something

I am sad that I haven’t been more active here on my blog. I have had tons of stuff flying through my brain, and the desire to write is still strong, but I have had a lack of focus or intent ever since I stopped writing about the theatre I was watching. The really strange thing is that I have been less open to theatre since I have stopped writing about it. Maybe I am just looking at it a lot less analytically. I just haven’t been moved, elevated or inspired by anything theatrical lately. That is until this last Saturday night when I was arm-twisted into staying for the second half of a double bill at The Theatre Arts Admin Collective, a dance piece called UnMute.

Now, those who have read me or know me know that dance is my Greek. I don’t get it, read it or speak it. I am frustrated by it mostly, and generally find the art of modern dance painfully pretentious and self absorbed. So this is why I wasn’t in the mood at all.

Well, blow my brain open with a feather. From the very first moment of Laurie Anderson’s O Superman which began Andile Vellem’s piece I started weeping and that was it. Four dancers; Andile Vellem, Themba Mbuli, Nadine McKenzie and Zama Sonjica took me to a place I have seldom been before and transformed me emotionally and theatrically. I don’t know what else to say about the 30 minutes of moving magic. It was a piece that simultaneously took me out of myself and connected me to myself in the most special, organic way. I loved it. And I can’t help writing about it a little bit.

In the meantime I guess meganshead is in process. It is waiting to become something. It is waiting to become something else.

Memory of How It Feels

I took my friend V with me to last evening’s opening of Neo Muyanga’s Memory of How It Feels at The Baxter because she loves music a lot. This live performance is directed by Ina Wichterich, with Apollo Ntshoko, Chuma Sopotela, Andile Vellem, and musicans Galina Juritz, Thandi Ntuli, Candice Martin, Benjamin Jephta, Anna Telford, Natalie Mason, Nicola du Toit. Obviously Neo wrote the script, composed the music and was there with the musicians, playing, singing and conducting.

My writing about this piece is definitely going to be all over the place and will probably make little complete sense. This is probably because it’s exactly how I received the piece. There were things I absolutely loved, and thought I ‘got’, things I loved without having a clue, things I ‘got’ which I found a bit boring, things that I totally didn’t understand and didn’t enjoy.

The piece is sort of in three stories, but it’s hard to tell how they are that. They have weird, non-verbal, dance-move links. I love the language of the stories, and the words. They are strange and the language is manipulated in a totally different, clever and sexy way. It is delicious and surprising. The three performers are quite fantastic. Apollo does most of the speaking, and it’s a tough job with the kind of words he is given to use. He is successful for the most part. And he is an amazing performer. Chuma is so wonderful to watch. She manages to be totally invested in what she does, and it feels so right, and natural, and real. And she has the most beautiful back. Andile is gorgeous too. He is deaf, and his sign language gives the whole thing a different dimension.

It was a treat to have the musicians live, on stage and to watch and listen to how they linked up with the action to become part of a whole. And I enjoyed the music itself, which was original and exciting. And the dancing/moving was beautiful too, if not quite repetitive. You see, I don’t actually get a lot of the dancing/moving stuff, especially if it has a lot of unexplained emotion with it.

And that is the thing, I think. A lot of unexplained emotional stuff. When that happens we, the audience, watch and enjoy but don’t feel. We are watching others feel. And I wanted to feel, but didn’t.

I think Ina, as director, did a wonderful job with the areas that she is an expert in; all the physical, dance, movement stuff was fantastic. The phrasing of the magic words though, needed better sculpting.

Memory of How It Feels is an interesting, sometimes magical, very strange performance. It is not for theatre sissies though. You need to have confident theatre opinion to get your head around it. It might make non theatre people scared.

My friend V didn’t say much, but on the way home she said the experience was a bit like watching cricket when you don’t know how the game works, and you don’t really understand the why of it.

The funny thing is, I’m still thinking about it. And remembering how it feels.

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