Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: FTH/K

The great divide

How do I write about the fabulous Fleur du Cap Awards that happened last night when my beloved dog Gally is sick? How do I talk about the fact that my favourites to win, Nicola Hanekom (Best Performer in a Solo Performance) and Carel Nel (Best Actor) who I hoped would win without believing they would, did, while Gally is at the vet? How do I explain how fabulous Heather Mac, Mark Harris, Amber Parr and Alfred Hinkel’s new dance company Garage were when my heart is aching with the drag of my old friend who is planning to leave us? This is my morning.

Last night’s glamorous affair was one of the loveliest Fleur du Cap Awards I have been to. I loved the show. It was simple, well conceived and heartfelt. Heather Mac and the rest were perfect, giving the whole evening great continuity and flow. Alan Committee is flippen, outrageously, rudely hilarious. I loved him and he is my favourite awards emcee. I was delighted that the Lifetime Achievement Award went to Chris Weare. How absolutely, truly deserving. I loved how emotional he was and I loved his speech about partnerships. I loved that FTH:K were honoured with the Innovation in Theatre award. I loved the additional categories that honour designers more.

I was dismayed by the same old same old ‘this award thing is so white’. We know. If somebody knows how to change this tell me. I will be the first in line to make it different. I was happy to drink gorgeous Distell shampoo. A bit too happy, I think. I loved hanging with friends, air kissing acquaintances and looking at the prettiness.

But, when I got home last night Gally was sick. Here she is, sitting on the stoep with Chassie yesterday morning.

 

New Benchmarks

It was not a great theatre day for me. The Butcher Brothers had no electricity and was cancelled. Then I saw the worst thing ever. But. oh joy and delight. I went to Benchmarks tonight.

I loved Benchmarks a lot. It’s quite typical FTHK work; masks, wordless, visual, obscure. But for me, the work has arrived. It’s the story of a refugee, a home affairs official and a reclusive ex actress, in Cape Town, and how their little lives get drawn together and how they influence each other to change and grow.

It started with the creepiest bird puppet things. They became death, street child/gangster Munch scream creatures. Creepy. Then there was a home affairs Single Ladies extravaganza. Hilarious. Then everything unfolded, and the story started happening and I was absorbed and completely shattered by the end.

Here is a list of the things I loved. The performers; who were completely unbelievable. The masks; especially the policemen and the home affairs chicks, and the refugee, and the aging actress and the home affairs man, and the gangsters. But especially the policemen. The set. Two cupboards that open up; one into an office and one into an old lady’s flat. The lighting. The story.

I really think that Ugli Bob and co are in the zone here. Beautiful. Benchmarks comes most highly recommended.

Womb Tide – Best stage pomp ever

On the way home in the car, and the journey from The Baxter to Woodstock is very short I admit, I struggled but couldn’t explain to Big Friendly how I felt about FTH:K‘s new production Womb Tide, which opened at the studio last night.

I was very excited for this show. I am a believer in FTH:K. I love what they do, what they stand for, their passion, commitment, creativity and brilliant work ethic. I love the amazing Womb Tide mobile hanging in The Baxter foyer. I really, really wanted to like this production.

And for the first fifteen minutes I was absolutely charmed. Liezl de Kok is so cute, engaging, magnetic and delicious (not to mention entirely beautiful) and Daniel Buckland is delicious and equally engaging. I loved being introduced to the characters and set and relationship between them. This culminated in the best SOS (sex on set) moment I have ever seen on stage. That is how it must be done. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

Unfortunately, that was the, excuse the pun, climax of the play for me, and from then on it became quite hard going. Here’s what I think happens. Everything feels the same. Because of the minimal use of words, and almost clowning technique of physicalisation it all comes out on the same emotional level. When things are cool and dandy (love, sex, marriage) there is enough energy and action to keep things sparking and alive. The minute the thing turns serious it starts feeling long and uncomfortable and repetitive.

I know that Ugli Bob (the amazing director Rob Murray) is strongly moving in the direction of creating a physical theatre vocabulary. The danger here is that the piece, the subject matter and storyline, seem to need a shift of treatment when things change emotionally. The actions are just not enough, and the few words are just moments of deep frustration for the characters, and I suspect for some of us in the audience too. Which also brings me to my next point. I definitely got the few words, or even part words, in their seventies flavoured Seff Effrican accents, but I didn’t really understand why some stuff was in gibberish.

Unfortunately, for me, there was a disconnect between the set-up and the story.I felt like I could see what was happening; I understood it all fine, but I was somehow disengaged. While the piece has so many things that work in its favour; a great cast, brilliant set, gorgeous and committed puppeteers, lovely costumes and props, clear intention and style, it didn’t reach the finishing line for me. I felt like I wanted to be crying at the end, but instead I was pissed off with the person sitting next to me who had been fiddling with her very bright phone for twenty minutes.

I also felt that the sound was a combination of FTH:K’s last two productions, Pictures of You and Quack! There was another problem, and that was the space. I missed all the stuff that happened on the floor, when the actors and puppet and puppeteers were not standing up. In fact I am pretty sure that I missed quite important stuff in the story, that I just never saw happen. This is a problem with the studio, but it was horrible feeling like there was stuff going on that we couldn’t see at all.

Look, it could just be me. In fact, I’m half hoping that it is, and that others will find this work brilliant. Please leave comments. Let’s have a debate.

Simon Says

This could turn out to be the beginning of a good relationship! Here’s Simon’s second post. Remember, you read it first on meganshead, when this guy gets his own blog!
And also, bravo and congrats to London Road!

Having read the first report, I can see that the immediate effect of the Fest on a festino is that the spelling goes !!!! But putting that behind me, the BREAKING NEWS is that “LONDON ROAD” has won a Standard Bank Ovation Award – this is something new to the 2010 Festival and plays get nominated by journos at the Festival and then a committee headed by a doyen of critics, Adrienne Sichel selects the winning productions.
To quote the Festival organisers “the new Standard Bank Ovation award recognises and celebrates innovation and excellence on the Fringe programme of the National Arts Festival by putting the spotlight on cutting edge-work that is strong, diverse and original”. Winners are publicly announced in Cue. Stickers bearing the Standard Bank Ovation will be awarded to each of the winners for display on their poster and inclusion on their marketing material. On the last day of the National Arts Festival, the winners of the Standard Bank Golden Ovation awards will be announced for five categories and each production will receive a prize of R 5 000, sponsored by Standard Bank.

So the third day – still not a lot of people around – I mean finding parking at venues is not difficult, queues are short or shortish and the craft markets are quiet. A quiet day for me as well – first up was “WOMB TIDE” – the new offering from FTH:K. Written by Lara Foot and directed by Rob “Ugli Bob” Murray, with Liezl de Kock, Daniel Buckland, Kim Kerfoot and Emilie Starke, it is another example of how FTH:K have made an art form of non-verbal communication. Allied of course with their work in the field of deaf theatre, this has become their trademark over the last few years. The original script was as wordy as one would expect [so I am told] and has been rewritten. This was the piece’s first performance and it is excellent. Following the fortunes of a couple who meet, marry and adopt when they can’t have children, it highlights the plight of people, old and young, who are involved in the informal adoption world. But it is more than that alone and looks closely at the family dynamics as well. It is funny and sad. The set, props and background soundtrack are simply brilliant and are used to great effect by the performers. A standing ovation to set/prop ddesigners Craig Leo, Leila Anderson and Emilie Starke and sound designers James Webb and Brydon Bolton. See this one if you can.

Next up was “KRUISPAD” – no man come on !!! Described thus in the programme – “when a prominent Afrikaans businessman and politician is murdered at Crossroads, his household is left in turmoil. In this thriller – a modern twist on a classic tale – lies, deception and the decay of a society are exposed through graphic sex, violence and rituals. Not for the squeamish “. Ooohh my jina – Brett Kebble en alles. Let me say no more than that when the lights failed half way through and they had to stop to fix them, [and when the play had moved onto to the day after the cremation of the deceased with the actors still wearing their funeral clothes of the day before] it was a heartfelt opportunity to slip away. Wim Vorster as writer and director has not done Afrikaans theatre any good with this offering and has not drawn any notable performances from the actors. I can’t bring myself to name them as I don’t think it was their fault.

Today is a 5 play day so deep breath …………

Mixed bag

Today was show day. I came to town full of commitment to see as much as possible. There was nothing on at 10am so I decided to choose the weirdest title I could find and went for Examz – No Enigma. It was not to be. I got the venue wrong and was too late to get to the right one on time, so I messed that chance up.

So the first show I saw at the festival ended up being Ncamisa (Kiss) – The Girls. This one woman show is directed by Peter Hayes and performed by Pam Ngwabeni. And it’s a very honest and real account of being a soccer playing lesbian in a Cape Town township. I don’t think that I am the target audience, not really connecting with any of the things, although I did completely appreciate the human drama. The lesbians in the audience were absolutely connected and very, very moved. I had mixed feelings about this trademark Peter Hayes show, which had some really beautiful moments and some not so successful ones. I guess my biggest problem was how hard it was for Pam to tell her story in English. She is just not comfortable enough with the language for it to express her emotions, thoughts and transitions. Lots of the poetry of the script is lost and she is always a bit self-conscious when she is talking. This is a great pity, because she is really so lovely. I think it’s possible that the piece might work much better if she does it in Xhosa. I also had a nagging feeling that the play isn’t ready and could do with a ton more work to make it really good. A one-woman show is really hard, and performance experience is needed to sustain it. I left the venue with an uneasy feeling that I was missing something else and then it dawned on me. Ncamisa – The Women is the black, female version of Get Hard, Peter’s famous one-man show that was a hit all over the country (including the fest) about ten years ago. Down to the undressing, the naming and placing of the dead, and even a climactic sex scene at the end. And when I finally cottoned on I was even more confused about the why and how of this play.

Then, off I went to the exact same venue to see Quack. This is FTHK’s new offering, created by Rob Murray and his cast. I loved a lot about this show but was confused by much of it and irritated with the repetition that made it feel long. I thought I knew what is was all about, having read a lot of the blurb, but I should have read the programme instead of sticking it in my bag and forgetting about it. It would have helped; but not entirely. Like their Pictures of You, Quack is a masked, wordless piece, but this does not match with the story it is trying to tell. Pictures of You is beautiful, strange and moving because the mundane is recognised so acutely. Here, the story is so weird and fantastic it is difficult to understand without words, and the mime and hand signaling becomes derivative and obvious. Funny thing is, I know that this piece is going to evolve and become great but I think it is not ready for an audience.

So both of these plays aren’t ready. Which makes me think. If plays are ‘allowed’ to be on the fringe three times, then this first offering is like a test drive. Which is not great for an audience since they end up being the paying Guinea pigs, which is why people wait to hear about it and only see it the second or third time around. And that seems like not a great way to do things for me.

Flippin’ Amazing Pictures of You

pictures-of-you-when-worlds-collide-300x200 We went to the opening of Pictures of You at The Baxter Studio last night. It was awesome. FTH/K are just managing to up their game on every level from a marketing,networking, support and awareness point of view and it’s very exciting to see.

I had a major, secret reservation about seeing the show for a second time; I saw it last year at Out The Box, and I very rarely see a show more than once, but I had nothing to worry about. I loved it more. But definitely understood it less! This time it didn’t matter though. I sat back and marvelled at the two performers, their magnificent focus, control and commitment. I listened to the amazing sound and watched the brilliant lighting and imagery. I was awed by the masterful direction. I loved the magical masks.

Please read my last review here; just go to the page and scroll down a bit, for an in depth review that expressed what I thought and felt. It’s still all true. Only better.

Big Friendly loved it too. He just thought that it was ten minutes too long. I love how he can express that kind of stuff in half a sentence.

So, I really think everybody should see this one. I also know for sure that they have many special deals; two for ones, cheap nights, special Valentine’s things on the go. So find out and get there. It really is amazing, truly original, inspiring and moving theatre.

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