Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: GIPCA (Page 1 of 2)

Villa Sofia stealing my heart

It’s really exciting for me that 3 of the most interesting works I have seen this year have been plays presented as part of the Theatre Arts Admin Collective and GIPCA’s Emerging Director’s Bursary. Thando Dhoni’s Eutopia, Dom Gumede’s Crepuscule and now Villa Sofia by Lidija Marelic. It’s been a treat seeing such diverse, yet detailed, passionate and committed work of a very, very high standard. Bravo.

Villa Sofia starts off at a massive advantage. Lidija put together Cape Town’s best to devise this work. Susan Danford, Terry Norton and Adrian Galley carry the life of this play and make it brilliant and moving. It is an odd story, that takes a while to access; what I actually know about the Serbs and Croats (the setting and subject matter of the play) is terribly limited, but by half-way in the characters have drawn you into the story and it is a tragic journey then, to the end.

But that’s not all. I loved the set. I loved the music. I loved the lighting, costumes, styling. The text needs another phase of writing, I think. I imagine a dramaturg working with Lidija to take the text to the next level. In the meantime, go and see the deft young hand of the director and the brilliant cast who live their characters so truly.

I want to make an appeal to The Theatre Arts Admin Collective to find a way to do two week runs of these works. A minimum of two weeks is needed before the Fleur du Cap judges can consider a production, and all three of these deserve being considered.

Crepuscule – how theatre can be

Last night I took a theatre hungry friend with me to see the second night of Crepuscule, the latest offering by The Theatre Arts Admin Collective and GIPCA’s emerging director’s bursary. Khayelihle Dom Gumede adapted this Can Themba story for the stage and then directed it. Set in Sophiatown in the 50’s, it tells the story of love across the colour line, and the trouble it caused.

I was totally heartsore that there were so few of us there. And I felt how impossibly difficult it must have been for the cast to plough on through with just us few as an audience. I was also totally blessed that they did. This play deserves a proper audience. A huge audience, and a long run. Where is everybody?

I was so moved, inspired and in love with this piece that I want to do this writing about it differently too.

Dear Dom, I don’t really know you, but have seen you around and I know some of the small difficulties (and even some of the big ones) you had getting your beautiful show up and running here. I am blown away by your work. I love your adaptation of the story; a process that is excruciatingly difficult, because there has to be deference to the writing and writer. You have captured this very successfully. I love how the script moves from the pure, high poetry of love to the more mundane language of politics and pain. I love your direction, which shows an inspired vision and a very light touch. I love your design and all the period work, and I love your attention to detail, in the layers of performance you brought out of the performers. One of my favourite little moments is when Malcolm is given a small, white sized beer instead of a quart in the shebeen. Oh, and I loved the tiny curtains. And I loved the transitions from stylised to naturalism, and I loved the singing, and I loved the intimacy, just to name a few of the many things I loved. Bravo Dom.

Dear Anele Sithulweni, you I know (and love). What an amazing performance. Anele you stole my heart. Confident, articulate, sexy, raging, true to the style of the time, and totally completely in it and present. This is your best work to date. Please find a way to do this play more, and all over, so people can see how brilliant you are.

Miekke-Dene le Roux, I have seen you in The Mechanicals, but here you take things to another level. Wow. I was so moved by your performance, characterisation, lightness, ease, deep connection, delicious physicalisation and total immersion in Janet. You are absolutely perfect. I loved you and your work.

Dear Kgomotso Matsunyane and Luvuyo Mabuto, you are both totally new to me and I was so excited by you two. I loved your performances. Kgomotso you are so easy and at home on the stage, and you are a powerhouse of energy and emotion. Delicious. Luvuyo, you are just totally exciting and magnetic, and I couldn’t take my eyes off you. Bravo.

Glen Biederman-Pam, you were such an eye-opener last night. I have seen you before as a lead, and it’s quite a transition into ensemble and cameo work, but you were amazing. The intensity and maturity of your performance was so moving. This is the best thing I have seen you do. I am thrilled by your work here.

Nobuthle Ketelo. How proud am I to see you in this, my old student? You were gorgeous, generous, present, and your voice!

Crepuscule is an epic, moving, thrilling, inspiring piece of theatre. Members of the cast who are from Cape Town, and all of us who have seen this piece, let’s beg, force, cajole, encourage, nag and drag people to see this. I know they won’t be sorry.

Post GIPCA thinking

I will steal Juliet’s numbering system (stealing was a theme too) and put down some random post GIPCA Directors and Directing Playwrights thoughts here. You are welcome to add your own in the comments section. One of the best parts of the GIPCA forum is that it engages such lively debate; both on and off the floor.

1. It is totally different being a participant. Different, exiting, good, complicated.

2. I love the talking, but still, ultimately, I love watching performance more.

3. I love the range of work on offer and the many voices that make them.

4. I am amazed that there  is a genuine market for this sort of symposium. Who would have thought?

5. Jay Pather is amazing.

6. Malcolm Purkey, Mark Fleishman, Penny Youngelson, Mandla Mbothwe, Myer Taub, Brett Bailey, to name a few off the top of my head, are very clever.

7. I love that Tracey Saunders and Marina Griebenouw attend the whole thing.

8. I am surprised how frustrated I get when people’s questions are inarticulate or rambling, and then mine end up being that too.

9. I am shocked at how uncomfortable arrogance makes me.

10. I am shocked at how badly I need feedback.

12. I am intrigued about how different the male and female voices in theatre are.

13. I am amazed that the struggle, war, debate is the same.

14. I like GIPCA’s catering.

15. The event has an amazing organisational team, and Adrienne and Themba in particular rock.

16. The theatre world is not generous enough.

17. Actors, directors, writers and academics are very complicated.

18. I have a group of magnificent and supportive friends.

19. It is easier to perform if you know the words.

20. Improv is a huge love.

21. I admire Amy Jephta. She is always so clear.

22. Sunday mornings are not an easy time to perform.

23. Brett Bailey is king of design.

24. You can watch good theatre in any language and understand or be moved. Thando Doni’s Eutopia was fabulous.

25. Our world is different now that there is a GIPCA symposium accepted as a yearly reality.

26. Nicholas Spagnoletti is hilarious.

27. We all know each other, mostly.

28. I am torn between continuing writing this blog, and not writing it. Is it helpful, damaging, bullshit, useful? Let me know.

29. I made new friends and I am a fan of more.

30. I conclude that theatre is not for sissies. (I have no idea who it is actually for)

 

Cultural Boycott of Israel; the elephant in the room

Hiddingh Hall at UCT’s Orange Street Campus was packed to the rafters for GIPCA‘s debate; Great Texts/Big Questions – Cultural Boycotts, with a specific look at the call to boycott Israel. I panicked at the sight of many, familiar Jewish faces, thinking that things were going to get very hectic, and that I was going to get hysterical, but no; it was a polite, luke-warm affair that left me totally dissatisfied. My biggest concern is that none of the panel could stay on track. For the boycott were Zackie Achmat and UCT’s Andrew Trench, and against the boycott were Dennis Davis and William Kentridge. I am going to assume that all who read this will know who these people are. And in order for me to put my very own point across I am going to write it as an open letter to Dennis Davis, whose argument I found corrupt and disingenuous, albeit couched in his usual passionate ‘public speak’.

Dear Dennis Davis

I need to explain very clearly why your argument against a cultural boycott is flawed and nonsense. The best way I can do this is to tell you about what happened to me, here in South Africa, when I was a young person terribly opposed to the apartheid regime. I think it would be fair to say that I knew I was not alone in my condemnation of this government. There were many white people (even you) who were. But it was perfectly clear to us that a cultural, academic and sports boycott was absolutely appropriate and necessary. Until such time as these pursuits could be practiced by all South Africans and enjoyed by all South Africans, we accepted as a matter of course that we should also be deprived of those things. I certainly had no expectation that anyone outside of this country would consider me and my fellow activists and grant us special treatment. Although I had no illusions that a cultural or sports boycott could topple a government I was absolutely of the belief that it would help to. And yes, I believed that all those things I was missing, like international acts, and real Levis and proper cricket, was because of the apartheid regime. I knew what the problem was.

You spoke about the complexity of Israel and why that should make a difference. You spoke about the many Israelis who do not support occupation. It is my belief that these are the very people that would totally understand, respect and even support a call to boycott, for the reasons stated above. If they feel punished and deprived then it is because they live in a country whose elected government has created this need for this boycott. To hold the dissenters up as the reason for cultural engagement is nonsense, and it mocks their own legitimate call for a boycott. You disrespect them and their views by saying that they need our cultural engagement.

Then off you went and threw up the paranoid and hideous excuse that Israel is the only country fighting for sovereignty against threats by Iran to wipe it out. You said that this is another reason that makes Israel special. I still don’t know why you said that and what it has to do with anything, other than to throw the normal stinky red herring in the direction of the usual suspects who come up with a contrary argument. Sorry, but this one is truly offensive and meaningless.

Finally, you said something unforgivable. You said that while you are very opposed to the occupation you wanted to remind people that Israel wasn’t that bad. There were worse places, you said. We should boycott them, you said. Boycott China, and Libya, you said. I really hope that you were kidding, because if you weren’t then you stooped beyond the lowest point. I want you to know that you, Dennis Davis are not the person who can decide that Israel is not that bad. It’s not your call to make.

Finally, you think that those many, poor, complex, non government supporting Israelis need us. They need our help to work from within. Here’s what I think. That is arrogant, self-righteous and patronising.

I don’t really know what you were trying to say, or why you don’t support a boycott. Lots of huffing and puffing.

For me it’s fairly simple. The principle of the cultural boycott is to help, in even the smallest way, the toppling of the current regime. We are outside. We want to show our moral alignment. We want to send a message that we won’t engage, exchange, or co-create until people are free. Especially us South Africans, because we remember the how and why of our own boycott. There are no exceptions, excuses or justifications. You are either for the regime or against it. Let the dissident Israelis fight from within. We can take a stand right here.

Finally, I’d like to write a few words in response to William Kentridge. I found your defense of exhibiting in Israel (in retrospect) very hollow. Unless you made a huge, public noise to the contrary William, I suspect it is safe to assume that the Israeli government thought you were on their side. Did you make a huge noise?

Capturing Sanity

There is only this week left to see the GIPCA and Baxter Theatre’s emerging director’s bursary award production at The Theatre Arts Admin Collective. Of the four full productions that we saw this weekend I was the most impressed and satisfied with this one.

Capturing Sanity is devised work, directed by young Jozi director Pusetso Thibedi and his cast Thando Doni, Nieke Lombard and Richard Mkhuseli Tafane. It’s about three people who are in an institution, searching for sanity and what will make them ‘normal’ and functioning again.

Thibedi has done great things with this talented, committed and enthusiastic cast. It is obvious that they all trust each other and were able to push boundaries together. This means that there are many poignant, emotional, raw and touchingly funny moments that are shared with an audience, and the play drew me in. It was also delicious to see such accomplished performances from fresh performers.

Effective use of the very few lights in the Methodist Hall, good staging (except for the endless dragging around of the steps), simple design elements and costume all pulled the piece together in a very satisfying, unifying whole.

This production took a little too long to get started, but once it got going I was completely there with it, and I really, really enjoyed it.

Now here’s the deal. It is on every night this week at 1930. There is an extra matinee performance on Saturday. The tickets are so cheap you will not notice that you have paid. Please, make an effort to see this work. There is good talent. It’s a good story. It is young and fresh and interesting. And it will keep you thinking. To make a booking, please contact the Theatre Arts Admin Collective on 021 447 3683 or email artsadmin@mweb.co.za

 

Directors and Directing impressions

When I was driving home last night I thought about the possibility that I would be the only person who would be writing (in this contradiction of a public and private space that is my blog) a deeply personal account of the extraordinary weekend of directors, directing, performance and conversation that Jay Pather and GIPCA made happen. I must confess to feeling a little overwhelmed. So much had happened, so much had been said, so much had been felt. So I have decided to put down my impressions; things I remember thinking and feeling, in the hope that it will capture some of what it was like to have been there.

In Anton Kreuger’s closing comments he spoke a list of things that he liked and connected with; ideas, thoughts, words. I loved his rambling, almost poetic sensibility and I am going to try and steal it here.

Things I loved, in no particular order. I loved Malcolm Purkey’s opening speech. He is a generous, loving theatre guy and that’s how he made me feel. I loved the fact that a two and a half day intensive experience with a relatively niche topic could be so completely well attended. I loved the gentle, ever present hand of organiser, conceptualiser and curator of the event Jay Pather, who followed every single moment. I loved the support people expressed for each other’s work; there is so little opportunity for that in real life. I loved Marianne Thamm; she is so brave, and clever, and clear. I loved our strange and passionate discussion at Kauai over lunch. I loved Nicola Hanekom’s reinterpretation of Boesman en Lena. That chick has balls the size of coconuts. I loved Chuma Sopotela in Aubrey Sekhabi’s version. I loved Zingi Mkefa’s whimsy and voice. I loved Amy Jephta’s well prepared note which was so much about the work and so little about the “I”, and I loved why and how she got pissed off. I loved Chris Weare’s interjections and observations that are all about his passion and clarity and cleverness. I loved how funny Janni Younge was; I had no idea! I loved Pusetso Thibedi’s production Capturing Sanity and his personal ease and charm. I loved hooking up with old friends and sharing in the stuff of theatre making. I loved the catering, the organisation, the team of production people that gave their work such gorgeous value. I especially loved how some of the participants, who were only in the limelight for a very short time, sat through the whole weekend. I loved Liz Mills, Jay Pather, Brent Meersman and Caroline Calburn who were excellent chairs.

Things I did not love; in no particular order. I was bored by how long it took most people to ask a question. I found it almost impossible to go from the beginning of what they were saying to the end with any idea of where they were going or why if you know what I mean and could you respond to that please? I was left unmoved by clever and affected cynicism in both participants and delegates. I just don’t get that choice. I was irritated with the hypocrisy of many directors and actors who never support each other’s work. I was cross with how many director people and actor people and theatre people still chain smoke. I was disgusted by what they did with their stompies. I was irritated by Mwenya Kabwe’s self-appointed watch dog status as external, black, gender specialist critic. I was blown away by Nicholas Ellenbogen’s dof ignorance that in a moment managed to cause such ructions. I was offended by the remark that was made and then repeated that there are no script writers or playwrights in South Africa. There are. I am one of them. We have no idea where to take our scripts once they are written, or what to do with them. I was a little emotional that Zabalaza and Thami Mbongo didn’t really acknowledge that Ikhwezi was started with a desire to do exactly what they are doing now, even though I deeply respect their new vision and energy. I was shocked that many participants came and then left after delivering their input.

There were a few things that I think were overlooked. In the discussion with critics, the much more successful role that the Afrikaans newspapers play in Cape Town in promoting and reviewing theatre was not mentioned. The role of theatre managements and their relationship to directors was not even considered, except by Neil Coppen in a death reference to The Playhouse. The question of patronage was not raised. In all the discussions about colour nobody mentioned that the entire company of The Mechanicals was white.

There was a rumour I picked up that UCT’s Drama department are going to turn the Little Theatre into two black boxes. My heart broke. Obviously, I am utterly convinced that this should not happen. What does everybody else think?

Over and above everything that I thought or continue to think about is what my role as a director is. I was invited to the weekend as that weird thing, ‘media’. I felt like a participant. I identified with directors, performers, writers and teachers. Overwhelmingly I felt like I was there as meganshead. These are interesting labels for me. What am I? I’m not sure there is a simple answer, nor that I even want to go to that analytical place. I work in the role of director. And when I do, I know what kind of director I want to be. I want to have the warmth that we agreed was vital. I want to have brilliant relationships with actors who trust me and who I trust. I want audiences to know how much they are taken into consideration by me when I make work for them. I want to be part of the magical theatre team. I want to feel safe and scared and thrilled and paranoid and hysterical and sleep deprived and concerned and angry. I want to feel.

And that’s what I did this last weekend. I felt. Everything.

 

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén