Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: G’town (Page 2 of 3)

Delicious Door

I lucked out big time with my first show here at the fest. I went to see the 10am showing of Door, directed by Jori Snell (I am a huge fan!) with Ubom! It’s bloody freezing and wet, and seriously early for theatre, but I was transported, delighted, entertained and thrilled with this gem of a show.

Four weird wooden doors are moved around, opened and closed, turned on their sides and choreographed by the team of six performers who tell, dance, move, sing and even tech their way through the magical moments of the show. A village. A bathroom. a breakdown. A man from the country. Door keepers. Magical plates. Dreams. A drowning boy. Somebody who struggles to fit. Forks. Village life. A crazy cooking demonstration.

The amazing soundtrack includes live singing of great beauty, Laurie Anderson, Kletzmer big band, original music by Brendan Bussy.

The lighting, mainly operated by the cast by overhead projector with sand, sticks, water, net, forks, bubble wrap is a brilliant and creative solution to the limitations of festival lights.

This is perfect festival fare, but much more. It is original, inspiring, entertaining, funny and delicious. It will be hard to top this. See it.


Not a Cue

I am in a rush this morning, about to drive the 50 minutes into G’town to pick up my tickets and head off to see the first of four shows today. I mentioned to my host Simon Cooper that I would be seeing Life Is Too Good To Be True, a Dutch production, and I wondered whether anyone had said anything about it. He said that there was a review of in in The Cue by Theresa Edlmann. So I read it. And I have no idea whether she liked it or hated it, whether it was good or bad, professional or not, funny, tragic, nothing. I have no flippen idea.

I turn the page and a review jumps out at me for Jazz, by Anton Kreuger. It starts, “Given that all I know about Jazz is that Hitler banned it…”. I kid you not.

So, get your actual reviews elsewhere people. It’s not happening in Cue. No Clue. Sies.

I got that festival feeling

This is a picture of me, taken by Jonathan Taylor, at the Grahamstown festival in 1990, twenty one years ago. I am sitting on the Village Green, helping Melinda Ferguson and Chevvy sell their stuff. I can’t remember if I also had stuff to sell.

Melinda and I had driven my father’s Toyota Cressida down to Grahamstown from Jozi with her mobiles, the sets, props and cozzies for two shows, and our other stuff piled in. We were performing the anarchic sequel to Live Technology (created by Melinda and Peter Hayes) called Dead Technology (by Melinda and I) and a little miracle of a co-production with artist Margaret Roestorf, called Live Art Exhibition. It was in a carpeted sunny room at the Monument that is now the Fringe office! It was exactly that; a live performance of Margaret’s and our writing in a room filled with her paintings.

I absolutely loved that festival. I’m not saying it wasn’t hard. At the last moment Melinda and I had a fight with the person whose cousin we were going to be staying at and our accommodation fell through. Chevvy reluctantly agreed to us staying with him in his commune and we lay on a concrete floor in our sleeping bags for a week. There was no hot water. Everyone else in the house were traders, not performers, and were very stoned and loud. Melinda and I would pack bags with our various costumes and leave them in the boot of the car while we went to the market in between shows.

But our shows were fantastic, and we were passionate and obsessed. And we jauled like there was no tomorrow. Most late, late nights we would end up rolling around on the stinky carpet in front of the fire at The Settlers Hotel opposite The Monument. Or we would dance and scream at the late-night ‘club’ in a side street I can’t remember. Most nights we stayed up as late (or early) as we could because we couldn’t face that concrete floor. We smoked millions of cigarettes and hung out with all the performers and critics and musos and even traders (there was cross pollination in those days). Late night cabarets and music and even movies were always full and only the start of the night’s jaul.

Sunlight and the Village Green was recovery and thaw out time, while we collected an audience, sold craft and ate that same Hare Krishna food. We had just discovered it. There were outrageous reggae buskers. There was flaming Ian Fraser, dissing everyone at his sold out comedy slag-offs. There was weird rock at the Graham Hotel, and venues the size of tissue boxes. There were house parties where people were so trippy they literally floated.

Now I’m getting ready to make this pilgrimage again and I must confess to wishing some of the stuff could “be like it was.” I know I’m romanticising. There was the festival in 1993 when I performed The Rhino Woman when I was so, so alone and sad the whole time. There was the time in 1994 (the only time I was ever part of a completely sold out show with added performances) when I was miserable and angry the whole festival. In 1995 I was involved with Journey, directed by Peter Hayes; the only time I was part of the main festival. It was a wild one, dangerous and crazy, the year James Phillips had his accident. I was in love with about ten musos that festival (including Brendon Jury) and I was secretly involved with someone and so was my best friend.

There were festivals where I performed TheatreSports, festivals where I directed beautiful, completely unattended work, festivals when I knew that the work could have been better, when I could have been stronger, festivals where I performed my own bizarre creations. In 1997 (I think) I did The Return of The Rhino Woman, and I was so, so happy; and drunk every night of the festival, with my ‘technical manager’, my friend Justin, who I had roped in to help me.

I must confess, The Long Table is fun, but it’s a different kind of hanging out that’s done there. Somewhere in the 21 years that I have taken to become this person, who is this age, everything has changed. I just am hoping that this festival, where my own fest identity will be completely different because I am going solely to see work and write about it, I will get that feeling. It’s the slightly mad, almost dangerous, a little out of control, manic magic creative electricity. Bring it on.

G’town is gearing up

I am driving to G’town on Sunday and will start my marathon of live performance ‘watch and crit’ on Monday, but my OF (old friend) Simon Cooper has a head start and a heads up so he’ll be hijacking meganshead for the next few days and giving us a piece of simonshead; his view of the fest. Here is his producer’s POV of the day before it opens.

It used to be so easy – pitch up, settle in, have a few glasses of decent wine, sleep a bit and hit the first show.  Didn’t appreciate the work that performers, techies, producers and a host of others were doing so that when you did pitch at 10h00 on day 1, there is a show to watch.   Have learnt the lesson in the last few years though.   But, man, the adrenalin does course through your veins – OK, OK it’s a lot of detail but there it is, it gets to me.

So what does a producer’s day before the Fest look like, well –

get up quite early and clean incoming emails off your machine;

pack a bag full of props, advertising material [press kits, cable ties, roses for “ROSE” with labels, business cards for “LONDON ROAD”, bookmarks also] and NAF info etc;

make sure the visiting actress [Fiona York from “ROSE”] who is staying with us, is ready to go and move into her Grahamstown accommodation;

drive to Grahamstown [no hangover because Shirley Kirchmann bailed from supper last night];

drop off tickets for “LONDON ROAD” with a friend – paying a debt for earlier house checking services;

take Fiona to the house and to her venue;

contact Jon K and Juanita F, stage managers for “LONDON ROAD” and “ROSE”;

meet up with them and get road signs from Jon K and leave Juanita F and Fiona to get to know each other and sort out “ROSE”;

find Dumisani and give him the road signs and the cable ties to put up but he’s not answering his phone;

go to the Monument – register “LONDON ROAD” and “ROSE”, see the finance people, see the publicists;

zip past Computicket and pick up some tickets and ingratiate myself with the people managing Computicket in case I need a favour later;

go back to publicity office with press kits left in the car;

meet Dunisani [at last] and hand over road signs;

fetch Robyn S from the bus and take her to the house;

attend “LONDON ROAD” cue-to-cue tech;

drop press kits off at Cue and stop to kiss Belinda de L who is the best advertising manager in the game but she’s out;

make sure Fiona and Juanita F are OK and sorted;

drive back home and try and remember what shows I am seeing on day 1;

food, red wine and sleep.

Next time around – comment on the first shows.  Man, I love it.


More from the East

Simon is still seeing things in G’town. Here’s his latest offering. I missed High Diving when I was last at the fest. And I saw Antoinette’s pic in the Booking Book. She looked amazing. Those are two shows I would have loved to see. Also, David Mamet could be one of my ‘gods of theatre’ so it looks like Simon chose really well.

Friday June 25 – back to the Festival after a “day off” on Thursday.   And man oh man, what a day !!!    Lots more people around – good – and “LONDON ROAD” posted sold out signs for the first time plus I saw 3 excellent productions.

Starting with Antoinette Kellerman’s “MAN TO MAN”, directed by Marthinus Basson – dealing with the life of a woman, who to survive in the time of the Weimar Republic takes over her dead husband’s identity [and gender] and who lives the rest of a life as a man, the play is powerful, complex, moving and brilliantly performed – again mention of Braam du Toit’s sound must be made as it complements and highlights the story.   A packed Rhodes Theatre was held enthralled for 90 minutes as Ms Kellerman held them in her considerable thespian grasp – her accent never slipped, her mastery of the text and the set and how she used them both was extraordinary.    Wow.

Then on to PJ’s to meet up with one of my best friends, Mike, and his fiancée, Chrissie, who had just arrived – first up for them and next for me was “BOSTON MARRIAGE” – a David Mamet play featuring Claire Mortimer, Janna Ramos Violante and Belinda Henwood.   So called from a term coined after Henry James’s novel Boston Marriage denoting a relationship between two females that may involve both physical and emotional intimacy”, the play deals with 2 women who in such a relationship and the troubles that come their way when the younger one falls in love with a [never seen] young girl who happens to be the daughter of the older woman’s “sugar daddy”  – as you can see a Boston marriage is not an exclusive relationship, it seems.   “BOSTON MARRIAGE” is very funny [actually witty might be a better word] and moves at a pace that exhausts even the audience.   The one liners are brilliant and all 3 performers are outstanding.

Last on the agenda was “HIGH DIVING” featuring the incomparable James Cairns in about 6 roles, Toni Morkel, Deborah Da Cruz and Roberto Pombo.  Jenine Collocott wrote and directs the play.     Following the lives of two young people making their way in modern day Johannesburg, the play is about hopes and ambitions, sometimes shattered sometimes not, about opportunities lost and taken and about learning lessons.   But lest you think that it all sounds very serious, it is also very funny and James Cairns and Toni Morkel [also in a variety of guises] excel.   Janni Younge’s silhouette puppets and the original music composed by Andrew Ord with lyrics by Nick Warren and performed by Andrew Ord and Roberto Pombo all add considerably to another great Festival show.

I, on the other hand, am enjoying the theatre desert that Cape Town is, while G’town happens.

Sunday in G’town

Yesterday was seriously long; we had a 10am and 10pm TheatreSports show and I needed to keep myself as busy as I could in between. Hectic.

At 12 I went to see Phillippa Yaa de Villiers in her one woman show, which is mostly autobiographical, called Original Skin. It was during this performance that I was again reminded of the difficulties of festival performing, especially when your piece is small and trying to be poignant and you have what sounded like loud community/protest/drumming theatre in the room behind you. Phillippa’s story is touching, warm and heartfelt, and there were moments when I had more than just a lump in my throat. I just struggled with the direction, which was, dare I say it, boring. The feel of the play is old fashioned, and while there are many moments of genuine loveliness in the text and writing, the show climbs gently onto and sits on an unmoving bus for the most part. I left feeling a little disappointed that my friend’s amazing story wasn’t very well presented.

I wanted to see something at 2pm but I honestly could not find a thing to see. I read the daily schedule about 11 times and went to have some lunch instead. Then, at 4.30pm I went to see The Magnet Theatre’s Every Year Every Day I am Walking, directed by Mark Fleishman and performed by Jennie Reznek and Faniswa Yisa. I am probably one of the last people in SA to have seen the show; it has been everywhere, and all overseas too. I am so happy I finally saw it and it is definitely my Best of the Fest. Of course it bothers me that it is a show that has had to travel and perform everywhere to gather a big G’town audience, and Ugli Bob, you are much on my mind as I formulate new ideas and thoughts around the whole festival shebang. Nonetheless, Every Year Every Day I am Walking was great. A beautiful story, consummately told, with its own original style, flavour and signature. It was absolutely moving, beautiful theatre. This was what I was looking for at the fest. I loved it and I wished I had seen it earlier because I despised this particular (big) festival audience with a passion. The young man next to me had one of those noisy windbreaker jackets on, which wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t kept falling asleep and dropping his head either forward, back or even sideways towards me. Every time he did this his jacket made those loud shifting sounds. Then, five minutes before the end of the show I heard a noise behind me and a voice I recognised as Simon saying, “Sit down!” These two idiots were trying to leave! They were obviously going to be late for something else they had booked for and were trying to sneak out of the theatre from way at the back, on hectic scaffolding that booms and clangs with every step you take! I wish that was all, but no, the woman in front of me’s cellphone went off, and instead of diving into her bag and switching the thing off she just put her bag down and ignored it. I kid you not. I finally had to tap her on the shoulder and tell her to turn it off. It’s not like there wasn’t the pre-recorded message before the show, virtually pleading with people to find their phones and switch them off! So poor Jennie and Faniswa competed with these two lumps and a cellphone retard in their final, resolution moments and both they and I wanted to kill.

The recession has not affected how people spend money on food and drink here at the fest. I popped into the Long Table at about 6.15pm, (Dulce’s, with Wi-fi was full) and in ten minutes flat, after I had gotten my micro-waved food and sat down, the place had become a zoo, with a queue to the door and tons of people smoking inside. Unbearable. I left, with still some few hours to go before our last show at 10.

Then I hit on a brainwave. I decided to go and see Sleight of Mind, Stuart Lightbody and Bryan Miles doing their special brand of magic. They perform in the same venue as us, so I would just be there, ready for our show afterwards. The venue was filled to the brim with schoolboys. I felt a bit sorry for them because they were desperate to be volunteers at every moment but older, bigger ones were always chosen. This hour long magic show was a delight. Both magicians are slick, cute and charming, and they work fantastically well together, supporting each other and moving seamlessly from one thing to the next. A very cool show, with an amazing newspaper trick at the end.

TheatreSports had had a great show in the morning, but 10pm proved to be a bit of a struggle. We got through it ok, but it wasn’t our best, that’s for sure. And that sums up the festival for me, with a day to go. Not my best, but I got through it ok.

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