Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Baxter (Page 1 of 2)

How to say it

From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach, Chantal Stanfield’s one-woman piece that I directed has just been extended for a week at The Baxter. Nothing could give me more ‘naches’ or joyful pride. This joy is brought home by me not having to beg, coerce or Chinese bangle (is that horribly un PC now?) anyone into going to see it. Crowds (mostly my abandoned tribe) of people have been flocking to see it, and have been doing the word of mouth thing that is more powerful than any advertising.

Although my job of directing and even ‘getting in’ to a new space is long over, I find myself drawn to the show every couple of nights, mainly to check in with Chantal because I know how lonely a one-woman show can be, but also to witness first hand the audience response to the work.

One of the benefits of directing work like this is that someone else is able to put across more subtly, kindly and persuasively, some of the strong opinions I have about being Jewish. Also, because Chantal tackles the subject from the outside looking in, she is able to make light of her observations, and it is this that the audience loves. Non Jewish audiences find the show a hilarious learning curve, while Jewish audiences are given an opportunity to laugh at themselves and see themselves a little more critically through an outsider’s eyes.

All of this in  great, true life, storytelling tradition. I am beyond delighted that this work is being so well received, thanks in part to Daphne Khun who began the journey with Chantal, and then to Nicolette Moses, who fought hard to have us at The Baxter.

You have one more week SlaapStad. Get your tickets now.

Something Special – From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach

Today I stepped into the Golden Arrow Studio at The Baxter for the first pick-up rehearsal for Cape Town’s run of From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach, and as Chantal Stanfield started exploring the text in a new space I started chuckling, and smiling and even laughing out loud.

And then, unexpectedly I found myself with a frog in my throat, and I had to catch my breath and wipe a tear away, even though I knew the text by heart. I can tell you, I was taken aback – moved completely by surprise.

We had a divine reconnecting rehearsal and I left, still thinking about how it had had a profound effect on me. I have been trying to work out what happened, and I think I have a sense of it now. This little piece is a feel good story in the truest sense of the word. It is a love story, and a generous exploring of different cultures. It is filled with observation, and kindness and wonder, and humour. And it comes straight from the heart, straight to the heart.

I hope Cape Town audiences will love it. I do. We are on from 19 December to 6 January. Come, and then let me know what you think.

The List

I do not have any children. This makes me one of a very few women of my age who don’t know what it’s like to look after and grow them. And it is possible that that is the reason why I wasn’t entirely swept up by the script of The List, in spite of being entranced, moved, mesmerised and awed by Susan Danford’s performance.

The List, written by Jennifer Tremblay, directed by Leila Henriques and embodied by Susan Danford, opened at The Baxter last night. And it is a like an arrow to the heart in terms of performance, regardless of (for me) its rather ‘for chicks’ subject matter.

I must confess, I didn’t like the set except for the projections of the words, like chapters, and I wasn’t crazy about the lighting, but who cares? Susan was brilliant, and she held me and moved me. She is a godess of acting.

Voices made Night

Walking across the stage area of The Flipside to get to the seats was like walking through a zombie graveyard. The occasional movement of one of the scattered bodies lying in the dirt or propped up next to a wall or draped over a piece of set was creepy. Once we had negotiated the journey to our seats I giggled as I watched girls hold their dresses to stop the one body from being able to look up their skirts. And those two feelings, giggling and creepy, set the tone for the piece.

Voices Made Night (directed by Mark Fleishman and with Jennie Reznek, Faniswa Yisa, Mfundo Tshazibane, Dann-Jaques Mouton, Thando Doni, Chiminae Ball, Richard September) is a revisit of The Magnet Theatre’s staging of Mia Couto’s strange and wonderful short stories. I remember how I felt after watching the original production in 2001 even though I couldn’t remember an actual specific thing. And once this one started I had a similar sensation. It washed over me, and I sat there letting each image, message, character and story take me on a teeny journey, before letting it go, and experiencing the next one.

The ensemble cast are really strong where it matters. They work absolutely brilliantly together. The set is fantastic and the music is wonderful and evocative. The costumes and make-up are totally fabulous. My only teeny nigggle was the pace; which is either deadly slow or hysterical, and I think there could be much more in between.

This production is either your kinda cuppa, or not. It was mine.



Somewhere … in my memory.. on the Border

In 1986 I was in my final year of studying drama at UCT. I was at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival and involved in about four different productions. We would watch the Buffels and Kaspers rumble along Bedford street in the middle of the night on their way to Irene township. There was a state of emergency. The ANC was banned. Black theatre makers were still beaten up on the streets of Grahamstown. My brother was in his matric. He had received call up papers. And I went to see Somewhere on The Border by Anthony Akerman. In that time, that voice of dissent, the swearing, the rawness (even though chunks of it were banned) the immediacy, the horror, and most importantly the bravery of the piece were all so radical. It was knife edge stuff.

The minute this version at The Flip Side at the Baxter started last night I had a memory flashback to the story of these young boys on the border, especially the story of the little Jewish soldier, played now by Glen Biederman-Pam. Funny, because I know Glen’s dad. He was my leader at youth camp. So watching this production was inextricably bound with old memories and expectations, and old feelings and remembering how things were. I was also with Big Friendly, who had finished his National service in 1985. The experience of the play was complicated, to say the least.

Good performances are what made this production good, and some of them were really very good. Luan Jacobs is fantastic as Paul Marais. His performance is consistent, subtle, engaging, and totally convincing. Glen Biederman-Pam is really stand-out good as the sensitive Jewish boy, David Levitt and Ndino Ndilula as the black characters is excellent. The others are a little less successful and end up playing the character and the stereotype.

One thing that struck me though, is the difference in body tension that young men (or is it young actors?) have today, compared with what I remember. One of the reasons this production did not keep me on a knife edge is because the actors default to such relaxed bodies. There isn’t the constant tension of fear, of the unknown, of the desperation, and the madness. These boys have to work hard to feel and show what was normal then. And I guess the horror that lived in the bodies of our young men (soldiers and actors) is very difficult to imagine, let alone play.

Still, this is a good, solid production of a play that is 26 years old. Older than the cast who are in it.


Understanding Ouroboros

Without a doubt I should have read the program before the show, but I was too busy at the #BaxterTTT (Baxter taste and tweet, for those of you who have no idea what I am on about) where I was tasting (more like chugging actually) wine, and tweeting (mainly obscure stuff to @uglibob, @_taramay, @TarrynSaunders, @AlisonFoat and @RobVanVuuren) and taking pictures of my pink boots and posting them on twitter. I should have read the program before!

If I had read the program before, I would have known that all the puppets (except for the obviously not, like the death ones, and the party ones for eg.) represented two people. If I had read the damn program before, and not after, only this morning, I would have known exactly what Ouroboros was about (including the meaning of the title, which I also guessed at), instead of having to make up my own version about what was going on. So, I should have, but I didn’t. And that’s ok.

What I experienced in Ouroboros. Magical, mystical, strange, uncomfortable, often unfathomable trip. Beautiful, magnificent, moving puppets who float in and out of the complicated story like cloud people. Strange art animation that delights and confounds. Haunting music. Moments of heartbreaking theatre beauty. Moments of hard to make sense of preciousness. Exquisite lighting. Confusing. Captivating. Breathtaking. Sad.

A whole paragraph devoted to the puppeteers. Cindy Mkaza, Jason Potgieter, Beren Belknap, Tali Cervati, Gabriel Marchand, Chuma Sopotela. Most extraordinary. Dressed in light clothes they were the opposite of disappearing puppeteers. Especially when they were together they were like a crowd of living ghost people. Sympathetic, egoless, loving, perfect puppeteers. I was in love with them. And they never spoke a word.

Director and conceptualizer and visionary Janni Younge has made a brave (and terrifying) choice. This is a deeply original show. It’s not a Neil Diamond Tribute. In a city where people go and see theatre as a matter of course, as a way of living and reflecting and being this Ouroboros would be full every night with people debating about it, and talking about it, and differing, and getting excited. I am terrified that Cape Town is not that city. My own experience is that we have more of a… Neil Diamond Tribute type audience. So I am going to beg you to see this show. I am not going to say that you will love it, but I am going to say you will have feelings about it, and some of those feelings will have to do with love. And life. And what it’s all about. Challenge yourself.

PS. The child and baby puppets are so beautiful they made me shiver and gasp with delight.

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