Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Engen

A simple moment in the chaos

IMG_1847-e1429160928722We opened our Engen Phambili road show in Bloemfontein yesterday. It was a challenging time for me on a personal level; I am recovering from Tick Bite Fever (a result of my gorgeous, irresponsible and crazy week long birthday celebrations), I am deeply shaken by the resurgence of xenophobia in our country and, being a bit of a sick and vulnerable emotional wreck, I weep about it in public. I did that at the breakfast table at the hotel yesterday morning. Also, since the Rhodes Must Fall campaign, my race antennae are buzzing and crackling, and on high alert for the minutest racial issue, to the point where my 90% black cast tease me about it. Bloemfontein might not seem the best place for my personal race riot warning system to go on the fritz, although I am definitely noticing how much more integrated and sorted the inner city of Bloom is.

So, after my gorgeous cast had warmed up, costumed up and miked up they were backstage and ready, and I was sitting in the auditorium of the bizarre city hall (a first time venue for us). It is a huge, traditional space, with funny wall chandeliers, a massive prosc-arch stage and brown leatherette chairs that are mostly on the verge of exploding or collapsing. Add to the mix the red, white and blue colours of Engen branding, stage lights, huge backdrops and a giant video screen and you can start to understand the strange mix of time, place and thing.

The doors finally opened and the Engen petrol pump attendants and cashiers (some from as far away as Welkom and Lesotho) started filing in. There is always a buzz of excitement in the air when people take their seats. It has been 10 years of exciting, entertaining and fabulous roadshow.

When the flood of entrants had become a trickle, and people had started filling in the back rows of chairs I saw three white young men in cashier uniforms enter. None of the other petrol pump attendants or cashiers in this audience were white. I noticed them choose seats in the back. I thought about them for a moment and wondered what their world might be like; three white men in a previously entirely black domain, unglamorous and basic employment that it is. Then, further along into the venue, and a few rows up from me a young black petrol pump attendant stood up to have a look around. It was clear that he was sitting with the rest of his team, colleagues and friends from his forecourt, but his searching was for someone. He did a full circle and finally saw the three white guys behind him and in the corner, and turned to give them a questioning thumbs up, a wordless ‘are you guys ok?’. They waved back. ‘We are fine.’ And I, for the second time that morning, cried in public.

That moment of care, of unselfconscious humanity has touched me more deeply than the shouting. And I will hold onto it so tightly in these disturbing, crazy bad times.

Theatre Life

cheersI am still on a cloud of high after the most intense and passionate week of work. It is Saturday morning and I woke up early to write a proposal (I was too tired to do it last night) and I was happy and amped to do it this morning. That’s because I am loving my work so much right now.

Last week consisted of the opening of Violet Online at The Alexander Bar, a cutie pie of a show that I directed, starring Lynita Crofford. It has been a thing of joy to work on. I don’t know Lynita very well, but we had such a delicious time, and I am so proud of the work we have done. I love our script (written by an anonymous but brilliant blogger). I love our set of fab purple couch (Big Friendly wants that couch badly), painted 2nd hand table and purple ghost chair. I love our most amazing cartoon drawings that were created especially for us by Goregoat (young new hot designer, if anyone needs that kind of thing, and the image in this post is one of her’s for the show) and I absolutely love our sound track of contemporary pop. We are on at 9pm Monday to Saturday next week. I am so excited to see how tickets are flying for this show. Thank you all who have pre-booked.

Last week was also the second week of rehearsals for my bi-anual Engen industrial theatre road show, culminating in a client viewing yesterday morning. What a blast. Again I am working with a cast of regular magnificents and two new magnificents and they are a joy to play with. Our rehearsals interrupt our laughing. I can’t wait to go to work with these people every day.

And it was also the week where I coached a group of banker type people who then put on four theatre (and movie) productions yesterday afternoon. This gig totally blew my mind. And made me a new BFF (Kathy Page Wood, who found me and gave me the gig). And put me on a theatre high, and life high, and an “OMG I love what I do” high. Theatre people will know that in a production you fall in love. It is the most intense kind of love ever. It starts in rehearsals with a flirty, frivolous fascination. In production this love/lust intensifies (and sometimes even gets consumated before the end), and then it is over on the final night, and the feelings slowly fade until the next time. Well, I fell in love with a group of over 40 people in the space of two weeks and I only saw them three (or two or one, in some cases) times. Yesterday they performed their hearts out, and tried to bribe me, and were proud and emotional, and passionate and totally magnificent. They dressed up, and drove cardboard taxis, and wore wigs, and sang and danced, and wrote scripts, and dressed in drag, and cheered each other on, and gave each other standing ovations, and got drunk and chatty afterwards. I loved being a part of their team.

What a week. Next week is more of the same. I say, bring it on!

100 days to go!

It’s a hundred days to go to the soccer world cup! I am sure that all of you want to know why I am even mentioning this, and why I even care, and you would ask if you could see me why I am wearing my ‘I heart SA’ T-shirt with the SA flag on it today.

Well, I have to say, I have been turned around on this SWC thing. In the beginning I was omigod! WTF? I’m going to a desert island. At the time I could think of nothing worse than Cape Town, and South Africa being swamped by a bunch of rowdy foreign soccer thugs, who would be overcharged, under entertained, over liquified, under transported and in my face. In the beginning I was the stereotype of a DWP (depressed white pessimist) that believed nothing would be ready, nobody would come and the SABC would screw it up royally (that part might still come true).

But my involvement with the Engen Phambili road show has changed all that. I have been working with Engen for the past six years, creating industrial theatre plays as part of the road shows that go all over the country and are aimed at Engen petrol pump attendants  and cashiers. It is work that I am so proud of and committed to. It is also the most effective work I make. But while my cast of brilliant actors and I have been working at delivering a message of giving great service, pride, loyalty, energy, enthusiasm and enjoyment, I have been learning about the world cup, the way soccer brings people together, the love of the game, the excitement ordinary people feel, and they way that Engen feels about this once in a life time opportunity for South Africa to shine! It’s rubbed off. I am feeling it. Marks Maponyane and Clive Barker do a Q & A around the SWC and they are absolutely inspirational. The audience of petrol pump attendants and cashiers know their soccer, their players, the participating countries, their favourites to win. World cup tickets are cherished and fought over prizes! The South African national anthem is sung with enthusiasm, passion and commitment. I’m in! Boots and all! Woza 2010 soccer world cup! A hundred days to go!

Never too early to Moan

It’s six in the morning and Big Friendly has just made the coffee. In half an hour the last ODI in Australia starts and it should be fun, especially since the Proteas have already won the series. Nothing like rubbing an Australian nose in a bit of Outback dust. So that’s why I’m up.

But this is on my mind. If you are a Capetonian, or even a frequent visitor to the city, you will have stopped at the Orange Street Engen and Woolies. It’s a landmark. And it’s a great after hours supply store. I even think kids jaul there on weekend nights. I stopped there last night to pick up something at about seven. And got stuck in a traffic jam and I was on foot!  What is it with all the moegoes, mainly in fancy cars, who shun an almost empty parking lot ON the premises and clog and jam the drive outside the shop door? I just don’t get it. I also don’t like parking miles away, if it’s dark, or cold, or dangerous. But come on! This parking space is right there! In the light. No, every moegoe stops their car outside the door. Cars getting petrol can’t leave without reversing. Cars trying to leave the Engen can’t. And I was almost run over as I exited the sliding door.

That’s it. I am really going to try and avoid it from now on. Until I need that damn packet of mixed Italian salad!

Rehearsals for The Tent

It’s 05h35 and I’m wide awake. I’ve got The Tent on my mind. We’ve only had three days of rehearsals and it’s already totally taken over my life. Reality and The Tent life have started to blur. The characters are becoming people and I talk about them as if they have told me things, not as if I made them up.

Yesterday at lunchtime I went to fetch some props that I am borrowing from the industrial theatre project I do for Engen (The Tent is set on the forecourt of a garage) and the woman who was waiting for me at the warehouse was curious about what I needed three petrol nozzles, a squeegee, a wire car and an old Engen banner for. I told her that I was directing a play and she was, "Oh, is that what you do?" And I said yes. And I was so happy.

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