Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Cape Town (Page 1 of 6)

Room with a View

I was away for the weekend, on a beautiful, celebratory trip for a friend’s 50th. We were in the Drakensberg, at a spot I have never been to before. It was also a group of 11 women, which is something I have never done before, and it was magnificent.

One of the most special parts of the space/place was the view from my bed out through huge windows over a special part of the dam. I saw the sun set behind the hills, and I woke to the morning star reflected in the water. I saw the pink sunrise turn orange and then pale yellow as Crowned Cranes fought with Plovers for the island. I heard and saw the massive Spurwing Goose, swim, dive and even take flight, and I watched the zebra from my front door. I had a live-and-let-live agreement with the family of rock pigeons sharing my balcony and even stopped frightening the two stodgy adolescents of the group. And I saw the elusive and much spoken about but hardly seen otter, twice. It was a room with a view. A whole new world for me.

When I came home late last night Big Friendly caught me up with what had happened while I was away, and one of the things we chatted about was that he had seen my brother, who was visiting Cape Town while I was away. He mentioned how my brother had said that if he hadn’t heard, from us, that there was a serious drought in Cape Town he would never have known. And when Big Friendly’s sister was here for a few weeks, she saw no sign of water awareness at her Waterfront hotel either. And this is really problematic for me. It means that visitors to our city have no idea of the extent of the problem, and are not prompted to do anything about it. It’s true. There is nothing about the drought at the airport, or in hotel literature, or in public bathrooms. There is nothing about it in the B&B’s and they are not telling their guests. We can do better Cape Town. We have to.

Improv for Actors

Dear Cape Town actors, I am seriously considering running once a week masterclasses in improv, specifically for actors, but I need to ask you outright whether you would come, and whether you would make it a regular thing? Is this something you think you need, or would benefit from?

My vision is that we would work in monthly modules. For example, we would do four sessions on being present, four sessions on improvising a character and character work, four sessions on status and relationships, and so on, pretty much ad infinitum.

I am also open to the possibility of focussing on what you as actors need from these sessions. I know that there is always a request for improv as an audition tool.

Improv is my big love, and I have seen how it has helped me, both on and off stage. Aside from the delight of performing improv, I also adore sharing the love as a facilitator and improv teacher.

Who is keen? Be honest here, is there a need? Would you come? Should I find a venue and propose a time? I would try and make attendance at these classes really cheap and accessible, so what would be an affordable price? What would be a good day (or evening, or morning)? How much would you spend on weekly classes? How long should a class be?

I would love to get your feedback before I source a venue and put in the work. Let me know by sending me your contact details in an email at megan@improvision.co.za

 

White Night

I went to a thing last night at one of our theatres. This is not about the thing itself, but more about who these things are for. There were two shows going on; one in the big theatre and another in the small one, but they were white shows, and almost all of the audience was white too. The whole feeling in the space was one of whiteness. And the whole thing felt like there were a hundred white elephants in the room. Big, old, stinky, immovable, Surf white elephants filled the space and all the white people squeezed past them and said nothing.

Now of course it is funny that I am saying this. I am white. My date was white. And most of the people I spoke to (except for the people at the door, obviously, and the ushers, obviously, and the bar people, of course) were also white. The people I spoke to and connected with are fantastic, and enwhitenened, and aware and concerned. But we were all in a huge room together in Cape Town, South Africa, and the whiteness was blinding in the night.

This is not how we change things. Almost all white casts playing to almost all white audiences is not ok. And we will pay for these mistakes if we aren’t already paying. We need to change it right now.

Opening A Can of Beans – Considering Veganism

img_5647-2I have wanted to become a vegan for many years but haven’t been able to bring myself to the point of actually doing it. It has mostly been about laziness; I kept on imagining that it would take considerable effort, and time and work. I have been a pescetarian/vegetarian for most of my adult life, and then, when I went on the Dukan diet I had to eat protein, so I ate fish, eggs and cheese a lot. In the back (and slowly moving to the middle) of my mind was the knowledge that vegan was really what I wanted to be.

I decided that becoming a vegan was going to be a new year’s resolution, and so I have been gradually preparing for it. I have been buying some stuff to have in the cupboard, I have made the switch to milk alternative in my coffee (delicious) and I have been reading ingredients labels with dedication (and fury; who knew that had egg in it?). I have also been listening, deeply, to Big friendly’s concerns. Becoming a vegan when you are married to a food fussy omnivore is problematic and challenging.

I have a few concerns about my lazy nature, my propensity for weight gain, and my tendency to overindulge. I could become a bread ball in a matter of weeks. But I am going to try and be as conscious and committed as I can. It most definitely looks like Cape Town is perfect vegan country, with restaurants, shops and even delis dedicated to providing for the fast growing vegan community, so there won’t be any stress there.

Where there is stress is on Twitter. Wow. In preparation for my transition I have read a lot on the internet; checked out recipes, blogs, science, pseudoscience, and deeply personal tips from vegans worldwide. I also decided to follow some vegan related people/things on Twitter. Bad idea. I got a DM from someone demanding I stop the killing NOW! I replied that that was why I was starting my journey, and promptly unfollowed them. Somebody else screamed at somebody else that dairy-free was NOT vegan and they need a disclaimer in their one line bio. And then there were the links that led to nothing but clickbait and ads. So, being a #twittervegan is not going to work for me.

I am going to have to tread carefully. A friend told me about how his sister who is a vegan gets abused and challenged by flesh eaters every day. Why? Shouldn’t it be the other way around actually? But, that is not who or what I want to become. I have already done that with smoking. Over half a lifetime of smoking and then 14 years of having quit made me into one of those rabid anti-smokers for a while, and it was hard work. Nah, I am too, too lazy for that.

But. I am going to need help. And suggestions. And great ideas. And encouragement. So if you have any or all of those, I am open, like a vegan recipe book.

 

 

The Usual – holidays and racism in Cape Town

imagesI so do not want to write this post, but it is sitting in my throat like a lump of coal, suffocating me, and blocking my rage and disgust. This time it was the racist incident at Clarke’s Bar and Dining Room that sparked it off, but it is important (I believe) not to single them out, but add them to the list of restaurants, hotels, b&bs, and other places of leisure that are either subtly or blatantly racist. A coloured friend told me about a horrible racist incident that she and her family suffered at Shimmy Beach Club last season. I read about another POC complain about being kicked out by the bouncers there this year. The stories are many, and endless. I have seen the look of relief on faces when I, a white person, join black friends at a table in a restaurant in Sea Point. It is embarrassing.

Cape Town is always accused of being a racist, divided city. And, it is way past time to suck it up and admit the truth of it. I know there are huge efforts, by people who care and take this kind of thing personally, to try and make this less so. It is a deep and thankless challenge, with the opposite of help from the DA entrenched City of Cape Town, who believe they have the mandate to be on the side of big business and big (white) money. We only need to look at the Sea Point councillor who had no actual idea that she was being what she was being until she publicised it; a clueless, cruel, ignorant, racist person with power.

But here is what I don’t understand at all. Why are these restaurants, b&bs, clubs and hotels not working the other way around, from the beginning, to change who and what they are? Why are they not all actively encouraging a coloured and black clientele from the outset? Why are they not actively giving support to those who experience racism from their white clients? Why aren’t they spelling it out on their billboards and websites and in their press releases that they will not tolerate racist attitudes towards staff, other customers and even passers by?  Why are they not shouting it from their rooftops that they are a safe haven for all the colours of Cape Town to enjoy?

It is too late once the incident has happened. It is over for Clarke’s whose pissy and weak attempt at a meeting with those who were horribly insulted is a total band-aid response to bad publicity. Unless Clarke’s does a complete overhaul of their attitude they will be able to get away with being a white only restaurant where POC never feel comfortable. And here’s the other bit of coal stuck in my throat. I am not convinced they (and others) don’t want it this way. They want to serve a predominantly white clientele. They want their white customers to feel comfortable and safe and at home, more than they want their coloured customers to. And it is disgusting, and unacceptable and they must be boycotted loudly. I am adding them to the list of places that need to be named and shamed.

But, I do not want to. I do not want to be the racist police. I do not want this.

A couple of simple Uber stories

Yesterday I was driven around. I Ubered to the airport with the lovely Ngoni, was transferred to my workshop in Durban by the charming Nhlanhla, who fetched me again to take me back to the airport once I was done, and then Tarisai Ubered me home. I wasn’t feeling well which made me doubly happy to hand myself over to all of these capable drivers to get me where I needed to go.

My very early morning trip to the airport was made a pleasure by Ngoni who is a gorgeous looking 31 year old Zimbabwean. We got chatting. He has been in Cape Town for 10 years. It took him four days to get here from Harare. His mom and dad and two youngest sisters are in the UK. His dad has become a British citizen and his mom is a permanent resident. Ngoni and his oldest sister have never been granted visas to go and visit their parents. They were over 18 when their parents left. That is why. My head explodes with that kind of information. His mom is coming to visit him in March. He told me, “I have not seen her since I was 21.” His eyes brimmed with tears and he turned away slightly.

Tarisai fetched me from the airport to take me home just before 5pm. I knew that we would be driving against the traffic, thankfully; it was still stinking hot. As Uber usual he was polite and friendly. We got chatting. He is Zimbabwean and has been in South Africa for ten years and has never gone back home. He told me that 80% of Cape Town’s Uber drivers are Zimbabwean. I knew the figure was high, but I didn’t realise how high it was. He was a lot more down at heel than Ngoni. He drives for Uber part time; the rest of the time he is a construction worker. I noticed from his clothes that here was a guy who made an enormous effort against all the odds to be clean and tidy. I was pretty desperate to get home so we lapsed into silence. As we got closer to Woodstock I started giving him directions for the best way to my house. We came over the bridge that traverses the highway and Tarisai gasped. He was looking at the harbour and the sea in golden light, and he said, “That is so beautiful. The sea. That huge boat.” It was. Then, as if more to himself than to me he said, “I have never been on a boat.” He paused. “I have never been on an airplane. My dream is to go on an airplane, and on the boat to visit Robben Island.”

There was no agenda to his statement. He said it absolutely unselfconsciously. And (not that I am unaware of it every day) it came crashing down on me how differently we experience this life, this world. I, who had been on a plane twice in one day. I, who had listened while people complained about the free damn croissant they were given. I, who watched as drunk men gave air hostesses grief. I, who wished the flight could go faster, come to an end.

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