Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Chantal Stanfield

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.

A First Audience

My body is an amazing machine. I have woken up this morning with an entirely different sensation in my entire body; one of almost relaxation. I had no idea how tightly I have been holding on, with a seriously stiff back and shoulders, taut stomach muscles and even tension in my jaw and face.

But last night we (Chantal Stanfield and I) had our first preview audience for From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach, and it was a test. A hard test because the preview audience, ‘friends of the theatre’ at Auto & General Theatre on the Square are a tough crowd of mainly old, mainly been around the block, mainly Jewish theatre goers, and we had no idea at all about how the show would go down.

As the lights dimmed and the music started I realised that I was clutching my pen so tightly I had broken though the skin on my palm. Chantal came onto stage and started. It was like my body started leaking out the tension with every word she said and every reaction from the audience. By the time she reached what we think of as the turning point there were those in the audience who wanted to clap. I found myself beaming. And then, at the end of the hour I found myself melting completely as many in the audience stood to give her a standing ovation. A Standing Ovation at our first preview.

What a blissful, comforting, lovely relief. My whole body feels it. Ok, I have woken up with a stye in my eye the size and shape of Swaziland, but that is obviously the exact point of tension release.

I can hardly believe I have most of today free. It is a gorgeous, cloudless, perfect Joburg morning. Then tonight it is our second preview and we open tomorrow night for real. Only a few tweakings and fiddlings and we are good to go.

I am finally allowing my body to start thinking about home. Big Friendly, dogs, cats, beach, wind, improv, other work that has been seriously neglected. Deep breaths in and out. Life is good.

 

tHEARTre

Everybody who loves theatre knows that kind of love. For those of us who make it, it is a tricky affair, especially in South Africa, where we are all fighting for audiences, for support, for resources, for money, for space and time. It’s like being in a relationship with a student who is waiting to hear from NSFAS.

So I am always equal parts excitement and anxiety, delight and despair, generous and jealous.

We open From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach, Chantal Stanfield’s one brownish Cape Town woman’s journey into the mysteries of white, Jewish Joburg, in exactly a week. A week is just enough time to be convinced and doubtful, totally excited and utterly nervous about putting this work in front of an audience.

This is the first time I have premiered a work in Joburg. And even though Jozi is my hometown, and it holds my heart in so many ways, I can’t help but feel a little like a fish out of water here. Who are all these people, and where do they go, and will they come?

I can’t decide if the material is contentious or not. I can’t tell if it is kak funny or terribly sad, or none, or all. But soon, when we have an audience, I will know. And so beats my heart in theatre.

To book for From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach, go to Computicket now.

Joburg Nights

The window is open and the cricket is so loud its like a one cricket band on steroids. I love Jozi at this time of year when everything is lush and green and the summer heat is tempered with rain on most days.

I am up here directing Chantal Stanfield in her one woman show From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach, opening at the Auto & General Theatre on The Square. It previews on 28 Feb and opens on 2 March, and even though we have just started rehearsing this week, I can already tell that it is going to be so lovely. When I suddenly have a waterfall of ideas (most of which will never manifest and be in the final result) I know I am operating in my creative space and it is delicious. It’s also that time when I find things on the rehearsal floor achingly (and repetitively) funny, and my cheeks are sore after every session.

It is interesting working in a space that isn’t my home, and I seem to have lost any small ability to multitask (let’s face it, I don’t have much ability to start with). Everything feels different. Space and travel and timing and food and even the air is different from home. Here I am loving other dogs (missing my dogs), walking the aisles of unfamiliar supermarkets, driving a different car. It’s like I have swopped my life for someone else’s.

This is the second Jew-ish themed piece of work I have done in the last while (I performed Mother in The Finkelsteins are Coming to Dinner; a show I am dying to do in Joburg, hopefully still this year). For someone who is reluctantly Jewish as I am this is hilarious. And we are rehearsing in a pretty Jewish neighbourhood too. All my Jewish radar is on high alert. When you are looking for it, Joburg can be pretty Jewish. I keep having the urge to tap into my ancient Jewish network, to insist they come and see the show.

Whenever I come up to Joburg (my hometown) I am split between wanting to live here and in Cape Town. The urges for both are so strong. This is definitely second prize though; if I can’t live here and in Cape Town at the same time at least I can come up here for a couple of weeks at a time for work.

And, if you are in Jozi you can come and see what I’m doing. Let’s hook up.

 

 

All things Jew-ish

15675704_10158134753840657_7834449182008505947_oWhen I was cast as the Jewish mother in The Finkelsteins are Coming to Dinner, I did a little swallow. Me. Jewish. Mother. Since I had spent so much of my time being unJewish it was a good excuse to take a deeper, more personal look at this whole Jewish thing again. And since the other cast members were not Jewish I ended up divulging more about being Jewish, and Judaism, then I even knew I remembered. Some of it was lovely, some of it made me feel uneasy and some of it was quite funny. It was particularly close to the bone when my own mother died while we were rehearsing and I ended up participating in the rituals I had been speaking about.

One would have thought that that was it really, but I was also working on another project, with a delicious, now Joburg based actress, Chantal Stanfield. Chantal approached me to direct her upcoming one woman show, From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach, the journey into marriage of a brownish coloured girl from Cape Town to a Jew-ish boy from Joburg.

We had an amazing incubation session here, in Cape Town, where the ideas, stories and themes emerged, and Chantal has written a warm, funny, fabulous and absurd look at our cultural differences and similarities.

And, just like that, it is almost time to do the show. We will be opening in Jozi on 28 February at my favourite Auto & General Theatre on the Square, and bookings will soon be open. This is me, announcing the show, but I will let you know more about it as our journey grows and continues. Otherwise, leave comments, questions and recipe suggestions below.

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