Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Grahamstown festival

“I was no longer driving the car…”

I am over half way. 6 down and 4 to go. I won’t lie. I have felt mostly hysterical, most of the time. I confess to having no audience numbers, no publicity, no recognition from the mysterious festival powers that be, no ovation, very little press. I admit that I have had the devotion and total commitment from my loved ones; friends and family who have held me close and strong.

I love my show Drive With Me (in case you hadn’t noticed). I think it is brilliant, which is why I get sad (and even more committed) when there are 10 faces in the audience. Even when two of them were sleeping before I even spoke my first word. How it goes. It’s not only me. When I admit to fellow industry folk how hard it is for me the floodgates open. No houses. 11 people in the audience. Ja.

My good news stories. Anthea Moys. Her work at the festival (and I have only seen two pieces; the chess and the soccer) has been a total delight. She has taken on the city of Grahamstown in the best way, setting herself up for failure in the most charming and hilarious of events, and this work is inspired, feel good, community inclusive and even healing, in a way that most theatre can’t be. I think I love her.

Fully Committed. Nothing could make me prouder than the huge visibility of this show. Pieter Bosch Botha and Richard Antrobus have worked their bum muscles to the bone to publicise this hilarious and festival-perfect show and it has paid off in spades. Big audiences have been enchanted, amazed and delighted by his genius performance and lightning quick switches between 36 characters. As director, all I have been asked to do is kick back and enjoy. Yes.

The cast of Song And Dance. It hasn’t been such fun for them, with small houses, no reviews, and very little recognition, but they are kak funny and I think the show is the best it has ever been. Bravo Deon, Anele, Zondwa, and Ntombi Makhutshi the director. I am so proud of what you have made of my (our) play.

So, other than Anthea, I am still waiting to be blown away, although I do confess to not having seen too much. I really enjoyed Stuart Lightbody’s Unreal. I worked hard to enjoy Tom Pain, because I love watching Albert on stage so much, I enjoyed Mary Sibanda’s exhibition a bit. The Belgian was cute. I have missed too much.

Last night I watched Same Time Next Year again and was delighted by it again. Tonight I will revisit Gina’s The Line.

And then some interesting impressions. Gtown, land where even the obscure critic becomes god. Student radio is banal. People want to see what was on last year, and the year before. I don’t know how actors can get so wasted and then still perform the next day. Gtown, where old grudges fester and new ones are made. Gtown, where the difference between black and white is obvious again. Gtown, where students bring the best joy, and most passionate response to the work. Gtown, where the CUE is hated and obsessed over in the same breath. Where every once in a blue moon a person working on the Village Green randomly chooses to see your show and is moved enough by it to leave a response. Where American post grad students engage in hearty, healthy political conversations. Where people still ask me whether I am here playing Theatresports. Where I spend at least R50 on parking attendants, who probably have exactly these 10 days of informal work in the whole year. Where when I asked a parking attendant where she was from (she had a foreign accent) she panicked and tried to send me to her “office” where I could find out that she was ‘allowed’ to be there.

Where equipment is as old as my 29th anniversary of being here. Where the difference in size of every stage flat is directly proportional to the size of the gap between them. Where the unspoken politic of shmooze, taking out to dinner, paying for drinks, false promises, fake smiles, secret handshakes, embarrassing hangovers, obvious indiscretions, confusing nostalgic reminiscences all surface. Where I learn that I cannot, and shouldn’t have to, sell my own work like a tradesman. Where I get inspired for writing my next damn show while lamenting my current lack of achieving commercial success.

Where the pep talk from my brother is the best advice ever. Too good and private to write down here. Where the tears of Big Friendly are enough to make me know so completely how brilliant I am. Where the strong arm of by bestie Jaci is like an iron rod of encouragement when I might fade or fall. Where the stamp of my magnificent director Liz Mills (even though she is already back home) makes me honour our choices every day, to every face that looks back at me. Where the man who took the courage to talk to me even though he was still so freaked out by Drive With Me that he didn’t know if I was real.

Wicked, powerful theatre gods bless Grahamstown festival. Fuck you Grahamstown festival. You filthy theatre whore in my blood.

Making way for the big, beautiful stuff

When I realised what was going down with my application for Grahamstown this year I was really angry, hurt and frustrated. To be honest, I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I was in a bad dream and I kept hoping (inwardly) that I had got it wrong and that it would turn out right in the end. And that is exactly what has happened for me.

It turns out I am going to NYC in June for work; I have been working on a very amazing business for the last six or so years called Great Guide and I am going to NYC to do research for the City Sightseeing Bus there. It gets better. One of my besties and most favourite travel partner Jaci de Villiers is coming with because we will be designing, planning and writing the content together. I wake up in the middle of the night with a ball of excitement in my gut.

As if that wasn’t enough, Tandi Buchan, Candice D’Arcy and I are representing SA improv and will be travelling to Canberra Oz to participate in a massive improv festival for the first week of July, at the exact time of the Grahamstown festival. I will be spending the rest of the month in Oz, checking out the improv and theatre scene, hanging with friends and family, and hooking up with another bestie Robyn at her house in the hills of Oz. Can you believe it? I am beyond myself with excitement.

Voice

Once again I have returned from a Liz Mills voice class inspired, delighted and excited. I was reminded today of how influenced I have been by the work we have done; I spent the Grahamstown festival listening to many of the actors’ voices and seeing how consciously they were working with them.

Many actors are stuck in their voices. Many actors have bad vocal habits, over stress, or have developed a very small range of expression. I saw an actress who, because of her huge physical size, had chosen a teeny voice to compensate. I heard actors who were not being kind to their voices with harsh stresses and sore throats. I heard actors whose voices were not in their bodies. And I heard actors who were getting their voices, their unique, individual sounds to really work for them.

I was lucky to see the results of Liz’s work so acutely in Mark Hoeben’s performance in Sadako. Mark, who was at drama school with me, has also been attending these awesome classes, and the work has so paid off. Because he is a puppeteer in Sadako all his performance is through his voice. And what he produces is an almost unrecognisable pitch, vocal quality and range, giving him a sincerity, compassion and connectedness without being an inch sentimental. It’s as if he has taken all the work, all the notes, all the observations and put them directly into practice right there.

So bravo to Mark and bravo to Liz.

Margeaux on the Festival

I am delighted to report that Margeaux is back, with an interesting take on the Grahamstown Festival.

Crazy Grahamstown Festival Idea

So I am seriously thinking of going to the Grahamstown festival for about three days this year. I was thinking of going smack bang in the middle, to try and catch some stuff from both ends of the fest. I want to see as much as I possibly can, and I want to write about everything here, on meganshead. I really believe that I am a good, if not very opinionated voice, and I am sure I can add an important critical alternative to the more traditional review writing that happens at the festival. So, that’s my plan, but I know I’m not going to be able to afford the five shows a day I’d like to see. I was thinking though, that there are always press tickets (and many of them go under utilised, or unissued) and I was wondering how to get my hands on these. Does anyone know? Are you taking a production to the festival that you would like me to see and write about? Do you have press tickets or comps for me to get my grubby little hands on? Do you have a connection in the press office? PLease let me know.

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