Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Andrew Laubscher (Page 1 of 2)

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.

 

Actor people

Today is another two show day for me, performing in The Finkelsteins are Coming to Dinner at 14:00 and then at 20:30 it is the penultimate show of Niqabi Ninja at the Cape Town Fringe.

And today I want to honour the actors I am working with. I know I have said how amazing they are as performers; I watched Loren Loubser and Bianca Flanders in Niqabi Ninja for the 20th time yesterday and they reduced me to tears again, and Andrew Laubscher and David Viviers are also such incredible performers that I learn from them every day. But I am also struck by what beautiful people these are.

As actors we are supposed to come from a certain spirit, a certain place. In reality this is often not the case, which is why I love the mostly ego free souls of improvisers and find the self preoccupied actor soul a little more difficult. But these guys are beautiful, and I love them.

Bianca Flanders is a beautiful, sensitive, hilarious, generous, kind and quirky girl. We laugh and laugh because we are both Aries and have so much in common. Loren thinks this stuff is idiotic (she is a Cancer, so of course she does!). Loren is pure heart, and action, and word, and voice and humour and love and humanity and outrage, and passion. Both of them have giant talent, but that is not what this post is about. I love them.

Andrew Laubscher and David Viviers have held my hand on stage in The Finkelsteins, and I could not have been better supported. But, they are both such delicious people. They are the nicest people anyone can possibly hope to spend time with before, during and after stage time. Andrew and David, you are both such mensches.

Come and watch us all. This loveliness of being does translate onto stage. Come and see.

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.

Kung Fu The Comedy of Errors

A big new breeze, a fresh young wind has blown into Maynardville with director Matthew Wild and his creative team at the helm of this year’s Shakespeare in the park. The most exciting thing about this production is how young it is. Let’s face it; Maynardville is an institution, and coupled with the fact that it’s an annual Shakespeare, it pulls serious weight. So a young, new generation of theatre people is so welcome to shake it around a bit. Did they? Almost.

Last night the park looked so pretty with the chinese lanterns and lights and I loved the White Rabbit sweets, chinese fortune cookies (and completely irrelevantly, The Creamery ice cream).

Then we took our seats as the sun went down for some The Comedy of Errors. This is so difficult for me to ‘review’ for a number of reasons, but the main one is that I saw the National Theatre production in London not two months ago, and I can’t help comparing, which is totally, ridiculously unfair. The Comedy of Errors was also one of my first Maynardville experiences, which I remember unbelievably clearly. Soli Philander was in it and it was done Asterix style.

So, I thought, how about two lists, of things I loved and liked and things I didn’t like or didn’t work for me.

I loved the concept. I think the Kung Fu theme and the execution of it was delicious, iconic, modern and funky. The detail of the design (Angela Nemov), costumes (but not so much the girls’ ones), the styling, the actual Kung Fu and the music was fabulous. I loved the second half which was jolly and rompy and Kung Fuey. The school kids will go crazy. I loved Rob van Vuuren and James Cairns as the set of Dromio twins. They were brilliant. In fact, I’ll come right out and say it, Rob stole the show. Literally. He was the best thing in it, on it and through it. I will never, ever forget his explanation of how fat Nell was. James was his perfect twin. Lovely. I loved Andrew Laubscher as Antipholus of Ephesus. He was just the right mix of arrogance, frustration, speed and wit to be hilarious. I enjoyed Stephen Jennings as Egeon and his opening speech was warm and truthful and set the right tone. I also enjoyed Chi Mhende as Solinus. She was still, commanding and clear, with a gorgeous voice. I could hardly believe she was huge, fat Nell as well – a total transformation. I enjoyed Francesco Nassimbeni’s Angelo a lot. His character, the cockney-crooked foreigner-doing deals in China was totally slimily typical, down to his cotton socks in sandals (although I did worry for his voice). I loved the fact that I could hear and understand every single word on stage, and mostly get the meaning of the Shakespearian (having Liz Mills as voice coach was a genius move). I loved the silent basket merchants, carefully placed with their stock for eating, and fighting. I loved the fighting. And the sound effects. And the omnipresent, cute and quirky DJ (Nieke Lombard).

Things I did not love. I thought that it was all a little bit too serious, especially in the first half. I know, that’s when you have to set the scene, but I think the first half was handled too carefully, making it a bit slow and brooding. I did not love the fifty million accents. None of that made sense for me, especially that the sisters Adriana (Sonia Esgueira) and Luciana (Frances Marek) had two different accents.There was Italian, old fashioned Chinese, send-up Chinese, posh English, standard English and a kind of Kung Fu Chinese and it was too much. I did not totally love Nicholas Pauling as Antipholus of Syracuse. Though his performance was clear and well delivered, it was too serious and slow and considered to fit the comedy, and it was out of whack. I was disappointed that in the gorgeous styling there was the choice to have cloth sea. I hate cloth sea, especially if the cloth is too short to make like water. Ban cloth sea I say. I did not love the immovability of the set. Although I loved what it looked like I thought it was underused and a bit overbearing.

My advice to the cast, especially in the first half, is to find the funny. The play is a ridiculous case of Shakespearian mistaken identity. Let’s get there as fast as possible.

In a nutshell. Yes there is a fresh new wind at Maynardville. Did it blow my wig off my head? No. But the gentle wind does bring with it some pleasant possibility of change. I love the youth, effort, commitment, courage and flair of a brave new thing.

 

A trip along, over, into and across Mafeking Road

“Let me tell you,” I said, as I stretched my arm out to grab hold of the triple strength coffee that was going to help me write this at six in the am. “Ja, ja, ja, it makes sense. Four of Herman Charles Bosman‘s stories visited, and revisited by a pink couch, two cheeky, chatty, physical, sexy young men, and a director with a brain the size of the koppie the leopard ran to. Can’t go wrong. Ja.”

Mafikeng Road is Matt Lewis and Andrew Laubscher, directed by Tara Louise Notcutt now on at The Intimate. And it’s four Herman Charles Bosman Groot Marico stories like they’ve never been done before. I have wanted to see this show since early days and I have missed it every other time it was on, including in Grahamstown where it won an ovation award and was sold out by the time I got there. So I wasn’t going to miss it this time. I was there like a bear.

And what a flippen amazing, fast, hilarious, delicious, clean, precise, energetic, charming trip it is. Matt and Andrew are genius and they jump, squirm, crouch, limp, run, freeze, switch from accent to accent, body to body, human to animal, comic contort, flash back, subtitle, soundtrack, sound effect and sometimes, just tell, the stories.

Tara has them on a short leash. Not a moment is indulgent. Not a gesture is too big.  Not a joke milked for more laugh. These are two committed and charming performers who are making the magic without any actor bullshit. “And I could of sat there for hours, listening to them go on and on. Ja, ja, ja. Makes sense. Loved that damn scared horse Bertie. Loved that poor love struck policeman, loved the drunken getting drunker altar wine fetcher. Loved the moms and kids at kerk. Loved every finger chase along arms. Think I must of loved the whole thing man.” I reach over but the koffie is klaar.

 

Lovely Lovborg’s Women

Clever Astrid Stark decided to celebrate her birthday with a block booking for the return of The Mechanicals‘ production of Lovborg’s Women at The Intimate last night. What a great idea, I thought.

This incarnation of the play (I saw one years ago with Gaetan Schmidt, Allan Committee, Robyn Scott) also directed by Chris Weare, is up to date, sexy and completely hilarious. Mikkie-Dene LeRoux, Andrew Laubscher, Tinarie van Wyk Loots and Adrian Collins are the four who race us though the different genres and interpretations of Lovberg’s (the fictitious playwright’s) women. It is hilarious, cheeky and delicious.

It’s a bit like watching a brilliantly inspired, well rehearsed TheatreSports show; with all the madness of send up done with amazing commitment, music and costumes. And it is total, great fun. My favourite was the Third World Bunfight send-up. Classic.

This is a re-run, for all of us who missed it the first time around, and it’s a great opportunity to get into a theatre for brilliant performances, and team work, tightly directed and a completely satisfying laugh out loud.

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