Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Graham Weir

Noah of Cape Town, A prophecy of Drought

In 2003 Graham Weir and I sat down to turn an idea for a story into a fully fledged, futuristic accapella musical, set in Cape Town in the near future. It took us two years to finish the writing and get something of Noah of Cape Town onto stage. This took the form of a cantata version as part of Artscape’s New Writing Programme. In the cantata in 2005, Noah of Cape Town was set in 2012. It described Cape Town as an arid landscape where water was so scarce what little of it had to be guarded by the military. Politicians were involved in hideous water scandals and the city had ground to a halt. There was an illegal black market for water. When we started fleshing the thing out once Simon Cooper had agreed to produce the full version we shifted the timeline and set it in 2020 because 2012 was too close.

The full, amazing premier of Noah of Cape Town took place in August of 2009, almost 9 years ago. As I write this we are 3 months away from Day Zero. The day our taps will be switched off and we will have to queue for 25l of water. The Cape Town we warned about in a fantastic, futuristic, dystopian ‘what if?’ has arrived.

We didn’t pull the theme out of thin air. We were worried about Cape Town and water scarcity. We saw what was happening with the migration of people to the city, refugees from the North, the expansion of Cape Town, the corruption of politicians and officials. We knew there was going to be a water crisis. And we knew this in 2003.

We cannot have been the only ones.

 

Long Street Delight

I have just finished reading Banquet at Brabazan by Patricia Schonstein and it has left me feeling really strange, and delighted and uncomfortable and sad and oddly uplifted.

Banquet at Brabazan could not be more Cape Town. It is set in and around Long Street and the City Bowl, but also touches on the suburbs and townships of Cape Town. It is another weird mix of fantasy and reality, images and characters from her previous book A Time of Angels.

Obvious references to existing people like Graham Weir and Not The Midnight Mass, or Pieter Toerien and Pretty Yende, to name a few, as well as actual buildings, streets and places, are interweaved with imagined characters, places and spaces and it’s strange and confusing and delicious and unsettling. It is also underscored with a weird nostalgia, abundance, and Italian decadence too odd to explain properly.

The characters are beautiful, and strange and awkwardly special. There is an angel who lives at the YMCA. There is the real dwarf who often stands at the robot in front of the Engen in Orange Street, only here he has an imagined wife and life. There is a cross dressing Jewish business man who has the most beautiful affair with his secretary. There is the Long Street we know, and the one we kind of know, or at least suspect, and the magical Long Street we wish we got more glimpses of, and the Long Street we fantasise about.

There is the disturbing reality of child trafficking and muti murders, of drugs and xenophobia, of the Angolan war, of Mozambican horrors. There is politics, and poverty and nasty human stuff. There are beautiful costumes, romantic paintings, beautiful light and music.

It is a really, really strange and totally haunting read. I want to be in the movie.

Noah is coming

TEST04 I can’t believe it but it’s true. In just over two months Noah of Cape Town, the most brilliant, original, local, never before done, futuristic, a capella musical opens at The Baxter. For me and Graham Weir, the writers of this magnum opus, it is the realisation of a dream long in the manifesting. We started writing it about eight years ago, when 2012 still seemed quite far into the future. (We’ve had to keep pushing that date forward!)

In 2005 the Cantata version was staged as part of Artscape‘s New Writings Programme, and that’s what gave us the kernel of possibility that the full, sixteen member version might, in this lifetime, still happen. And ‘strues bob, thanks to the belief, commitment and backing of Simon Cooper, Noah of Cape Town is in the final stages of getting the cast absolutely finalised. Graham and I are frantically doing rewrites. Jaci de Villiers our most awesome and visionary director is coming soon. Dicky Longhurst is wikkeling with set. Amanda Tiffin is transcribing and working on the music while Graham (who has composed and written all the music) is writing and composing some more. And naturally there is all sorts of stuff happening behind the scenes to get this monster up and running.

Rehearsals start on Monday, which means everybody will need to have a script by then.

Watch this space, and all the other spaces. Noah of Cape Town is coming.

It really is starting, and man, oh, man

I am beyond exhausted, energy sapped, and jangling. I was at the Kalk Bay Theatre from 9 this morning and I got home literally ten minutes ago, after being there all day and night (it’s Tuesday and we play TheatreSports there on a Tuesday night). Today fab director of Noah, Jaci de Villiers, musical man and writer Graham Weir and MD Amanda Tiffin ran the Cape Town call backs for Noah, our original accapella musical. And it was kick-ass, massive and brilliant. All (nearly all) those actors I had complained about? Well, these weren’t them. I loved these call back guys. They were fantastic, focused, disciplined, humble, prepared, talented and dynamic. They worked in groups and on their own. They brought amazing energy and skill to the process. They listened, they gave, they responded. I sat and heard our dialogue be brought to life and become meaningful. I got very, very excited. I fell in love with about seventeen people. I saw the possibility.

Well done and thank you to all who gave their time, energy and, mostly, commitment to this gruelling process. Choosing a cast is going to be so hard and I am so glad that it’s not my job.

I also learn so much from this whole experience. I keep learning about music and singing, which is amazing. I can’t believe how hard it is to be both a brilliant singer and a brilliant actor. I am learning audition techniques. I am learning about performers and how they think and feel. I am learning how to be generous and warm to people who are nervous and anxious. I am learning how to read between the nerves. I am learning to be surprised by people. I am learning to let them change my mind, and heart.

Jozi artists rock

I did that ridiculous one day Jozi thing. I flew up at the crack yesterday and then came back today, so I could be at Jozi call backs for Noah. Jaci de Villiers (fab director) organised for some of her favourite Jozi talent to come and meet Graham Weir (the writer, composer and voice guru) Amanda Tiffin (musical director) and me. I want to tell you; a whole new ball game. These guys were prepared. They were professional. They were keen. They looked good. They were organised. Most of them were even early. I was blown away by the talent. I was charmed and warmed and excited. Slaap Stad, we’ve got a lot to learn. Agents here in Slaap Stad, you are going to have to up your game. This is an amazing opportunity to be in a brand new, original, local, accapella musical. How is it possible that people don’t pitch, come late, are unprepared, can’t make call backs, don’t want to be in long runs? Slaap Stad actors, you are going to have to catch a wake up or else everything will have to be cast in Jozi. And I think that that is a huge pity.

Do NOT miss NOT The Midnight Mass

files.php I went on Thursday night to their final preview ( I was away in Plett for their opening on Friday) and it was fabulous. This is perfect summer holiday fare; funny, quirky, balanced, artful and totally feel good.

Not The Midnight Mass celebrates its 21st birthday with this incarnation and it is worth the trip to Theatre on The Bay to have the best time ever in a theatre.

Genius anchors Graham Weir and Christine Weir are joined by Amanda Tiffin (who has blossomed into the most amazing actress; she always was a dream of a singer), Jason Ralph who is divine to watch singing with his magnificent voice, and the hugely huge and talented Pierre van Heerden who is made for this type of work.

I was jealous not to be involved this time. I love Not the Midnight Mass and have directed and stage managed the show a few times over the years. But after I got over the jealousy I sat forward in my seat and blommed. There are the old faves The Hallelujah Chorus, Wuthering HeightsGraham’s original Eh Barahn. There are some new surprises and some brilliant re-workings. The only thing I wasn’t crazy about was the TV theme medley and that’s probably because the volume in the first half was a bit down and it needed to be a bit more punchy.

I swear, this is a show that people need to see this holiday. It cheers your soul. If you are choosing what to spend your theatre money on then choose this.

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