Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Glen Biederman-Pam

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.

Somewhere … in my memory.. on the Border

In 1986 I was in my final year of studying drama at UCT. I was at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival and involved in about four different productions. We would watch the Buffels and Kaspers rumble along Bedford street in the middle of the night on their way to Irene township. There was a state of emergency. The ANC was banned. Black theatre makers were still beaten up on the streets of Grahamstown. My brother was in his matric. He had received call up papers. And I went to see Somewhere on The Border by Anthony Akerman. In that time, that voice of dissent, the swearing, the rawness (even though chunks of it were banned) the immediacy, the horror, and most importantly the bravery of the piece were all so radical. It was knife edge stuff.

The minute this version at The Flip Side at the Baxter started last night I had a memory flashback to the story of these young boys on the border, especially the story of the little Jewish soldier, played now by Glen Biederman-Pam. Funny, because I know Glen’s dad. He was my leader at youth camp. So watching this production was inextricably bound with old memories and expectations, and old feelings and remembering how things were. I was also with Big Friendly, who had finished his National service in 1985. The experience of the play was complicated, to say the least.

Good performances are what made this production good, and some of them were really very good. Luan Jacobs is fantastic as Paul Marais. His performance is consistent, subtle, engaging, and totally convincing. Glen Biederman-Pam is really stand-out good as the sensitive Jewish boy, David Levitt and Ndino Ndilula as the black characters is excellent. The others are a little less successful and end up playing the character and the stereotype.

One thing that struck me though, is the difference in body tension that young men (or is it young actors?) have today, compared with what I remember. One of the reasons this production did not keep me on a knife edge is because the actors default to such relaxed bodies. There isn’t the constant tension of fear, of the unknown, of the desperation, and the madness. These boys have to work hard to feel and show what was normal then. And I guess the horror that lived in the bodies of our young men (soldiers and actors) is very difficult to imagine, let alone play.

Still, this is a good, solid production of a play that is 26 years old. Older than the cast who are in it.


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