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.