Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Drive With Me (Page 2 of 4)

A Gift

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Revisiting a piece of work that is so close to me has been interesting. I have had to drag myself back to the text, and then I’ve been delighted by it again. I have been shocked as how stage fit I need to be. I am surprised at how resistant my brain and body are to change after things get ingrained. And this is really only in a week of work. I am preparing for three shows of Drive With Me at the Alexander Bar next week.

But, the real gift is getting a second chance with the awesome Liz Mills. She is the most exciting, challenging, holding and inspirational director. And I measure the high regard in which I hold her by my desire to please and impress her. Acting is weird.

Every day I feel different emotions as I get closer to this piece we created and now re-create. And I can’t wait for new people to see it.

Changing gear for Drive With Me

It has been a distracting beginning to the week, with 2 improv shows on Monday and Tuesday with celebrity guest Casper de Vries. It’s always an interesting and exciting challenge playing with someone who isn’t part of our permanent group, with some insightful realisations that come with it. Firstly, I think we all realise how what we do is quite difficult. Improvising looks easier than it is. The second great lesson is discovering how good we are. We are able to rise to the challenge, make light work of playing with a stranger, and adapt to the situation.

Picking up a script that I haven’t worked on since July is a challenge of a totally different kind. Today is D day for actually starting to rehearse Drive With Me, to be ready for my 3 performances at The Alexander Bar on 20, 21, 22 November. I am excited and scared. I don’t know what to expect from it this time around. It is a strange fracture relearning words, located in the memory but needing to come forward, forward and off the tongue. It is a creepy deja vu trying to re-choreograph moments that were finally second nature and are now awkward again. It is a heaviness and lightness. A chore and a revelation. An inspiration and a deep questioning. Of course, by the tie the work gets to be in front of an audience it will be another thing, closer to what I intended, and shaped by the director and her vision. But in these two weeks before that happens it is still in the beautiful phase of re-creation.

Three performances at Alexander Bar mean 120 tickets. I would love 120 people to see it. If you wanted to and either didn’t or weren’t there when I was in Grahamstown, please book to see it now here.

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Drive With Me here

So, when I came back from Grahamstown it is fair to say I was broken. But, as with all things theatrical, I bounced back and launched myself into other things. Obviously, the whole time I was thinking about how to end Drive With Me, and give it a send off. You see, I have always been intensely proud of the work, but suffered great feelings of invisibility at the festival, and I’ve been confused and scared about how to put it on in CT. I had just decided to wait until the right thing came along, when I got offered 3 shows at Alexander Bar, my fave venue in CT. Suddenly the opportunity to do the show again lit tiny sparks in my soul.

So, for all of you who asked, Drive With Me will be on at Alexander Bar on the 20, 21, 22 November at 7pm. When booking becomes available on the Alexander Bar website, please do it. It’s a tiny venue, and a tiny little run.

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Festival Post Mortem

I always knew I would write this post, but even now I find it difficult. I have been home 3 nights and there is nothing more comforting than fast ADSL, animals, my things and my solid pillar of Big Friendly. Still, for those of you who weren’t there or didn’t hear me say so, the festival was one long, tough, exhausting, often painful, occasionally inspiring, frighteningly empty affair.

I had very few people coming through the door to see Drive With Me, even though those that did seemed to love it, a lot. The combination of a great review on day 1 and then nothing until an Ovation award on day 10 didn’t help (although I am deeply grateful for both). Song And Dance got better and better, without a word or pic in CUE (to be honest I have no idea how people knew about it), and even though Pieter Bosch Botha and Richard Antrobus did a sterling publicity job on Fully Committed and people raved about it I had visions of sold-outs and extra shows because of how perfect it was for the festival. Truth is, it was a very quiet affair, with tons of parking in the streets, food and furniture always available at the Long Table, nobody at the Village Green, and people handing out comps left, right and centre. The only full show I attended was jammed full of school kids. That’s not to say there weren’t full ones. It seems shows that were there for the 2nd and 3rd time did better.

The worst part about all of this is that I am already thinking about how to do it differently next year. Please, theatre gods, if I decide to jump, look after me harder.

And now for some other news. I have decided, after much hearty discussion with friends, family and some colleagues, to stop writing review style posts here on meganshead. I am very sad about it, but I feel like it typecasts me in the industry and people then find it difficult to see me or receive me when I do theatre work of my own. Obviously, that is still more important to me, and so I think I will serve myself better if I am not seen as a theatre critic. I’ll still write, and share my opinions about everything else, including industry related stuff, but I will leave the ‘reviewing’ to those less involved, even though I am confident I did a bladdy good job. So, I will still see almost everything, and I will facebook and tweet about whether I liked it or not, but I’ll reserve this space for writing about other, varied stuff. How do you feel about that? Please send me comments to let me know.

“I was no longer driving the car…”

I am over half way. 6 down and 4 to go. I won’t lie. I have felt mostly hysterical, most of the time. I confess to having no audience numbers, no publicity, no recognition from the mysterious festival powers that be, no ovation, very little press. I admit that I have had the devotion and total commitment from my loved ones; friends and family who have held me close and strong.

I love my show Drive With Me (in case you hadn’t noticed). I think it is brilliant, which is why I get sad (and even more committed) when there are 10 faces in the audience. Even when two of them were sleeping before I even spoke my first word. How it goes. It’s not only me. When I admit to fellow industry folk how hard it is for me the floodgates open. No houses. 11 people in the audience. Ja.

My good news stories. Anthea Moys. Her work at the festival (and I have only seen two pieces; the chess and the soccer) has been a total delight. She has taken on the city of Grahamstown in the best way, setting herself up for failure in the most charming and hilarious of events, and this work is inspired, feel good, community inclusive and even healing, in a way that most theatre can’t be. I think I love her.

Fully Committed. Nothing could make me prouder than the huge visibility of this show. Pieter Bosch Botha and Richard Antrobus have worked their bum muscles to the bone to publicise this hilarious and festival-perfect show and it has paid off in spades. Big audiences have been enchanted, amazed and delighted by his genius performance and lightning quick switches between 36 characters. As director, all I have been asked to do is kick back and enjoy. Yes.

The cast of Song And Dance. It hasn’t been such fun for them, with small houses, no reviews, and very little recognition, but they are kak funny and I think the show is the best it has ever been. Bravo Deon, Anele, Zondwa, and Ntombi Makhutshi the director. I am so proud of what you have made of my (our) play.

So, other than Anthea, I am still waiting to be blown away, although I do confess to not having seen too much. I really enjoyed Stuart Lightbody’s Unreal. I worked hard to enjoy Tom Pain, because I love watching Albert on stage so much, I enjoyed Mary Sibanda’s exhibition a bit. The Belgian was cute. I have missed too much.

Last night I watched Same Time Next Year again and was delighted by it again. Tonight I will revisit Gina’s The Line.

And then some interesting impressions. Gtown, land where even the obscure critic becomes god. Student radio is banal. People want to see what was on last year, and the year before. I don’t know how actors can get so wasted and then still perform the next day. Gtown, where old grudges fester and new ones are made. Gtown, where the difference between black and white is obvious again. Gtown, where students bring the best joy, and most passionate response to the work. Gtown, where the CUE is hated and obsessed over in the same breath. Where every once in a blue moon a person working on the Village Green randomly chooses to see your show and is moved enough by it to leave a response. Where American post grad students engage in hearty, healthy political conversations. Where people still ask me whether I am here playing Theatresports. Where I spend at least R50 on parking attendants, who probably have exactly these 10 days of informal work in the whole year. Where when I asked a parking attendant where she was from (she had a foreign accent) she panicked and tried to send me to her “office” where I could find out that she was ‘allowed’ to be there.

Where equipment is as old as my 29th anniversary of being here. Where the difference in size of every stage flat is directly proportional to the size of the gap between them. Where the unspoken politic of shmooze, taking out to dinner, paying for drinks, false promises, fake smiles, secret handshakes, embarrassing hangovers, obvious indiscretions, confusing nostalgic reminiscences all surface. Where I learn that I cannot, and shouldn’t have to, sell my own work like a tradesman. Where I get inspired for writing my next damn show while lamenting my current lack of achieving commercial success.

Where the pep talk from my brother is the best advice ever. Too good and private to write down here. Where the tears of Big Friendly are enough to make me know so completely how brilliant I am. Where the strong arm of by bestie Jaci is like an iron rod of encouragement when I might fade or fall. Where the stamp of my magnificent director Liz Mills (even though she is already back home) makes me honour our choices every day, to every face that looks back at me. Where the man who took the courage to talk to me even though he was still so freaked out by Drive With Me that he didn’t know if I was real.

Wicked, powerful theatre gods bless Grahamstown festival. Fuck you Grahamstown festival. You filthy theatre whore in my blood.

Drive With Me gets totally real

For those of you who don’t know, Drive With Me is (mostly) about driving to Grahamstown, to the festival. And that is exactly what I’ll be doing tomorrow morning. There is no weirder way of getting into character and mood than doing all the things I have written down and been rehearsing for four weeks.

This drive will be the beginning of the culmination of almost two years of work. In 2011 I was driving home from the festival when I was flooded with the images, sights, sounds and sensations of Drive With Me. It was the music I listened to, the things I ate, the people and animals I saw.

After the massive disappointment of not performing it at last year”s festival, I decided to give it a trial run (a reading actually) at GIPCA’s conference and it was met with a really positive response. And then Simon Cooper from Kalk Bay Theatre said he would produce it for this year’s festival.

It has been a magical four weeks, working with my director Liz Mills, sound artist James Webb and media man Sanjin Muftic. It has been a joyous rehearsal in a lovely space, where slowly, the production has pulled together with invisible threads, and become ready for an audience.

I have become preoccupied and single minded. I say word runs while I do everything else. I picture the drive, the venue, the performances. I am ready for Drive With Me.

If you are coming to the festival, and you do end up seeing it, please drop me a line to let me know what you think.

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