Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Jason Potgieter

Get cracking Kraken

For just under an hour this evening I badly wanted to be a 10 year old boy. I just knew how much better, realer and more amazing Get Kraken would have been. It is Jon Keevy’s new script for young audiences, directed by Kim Kerfoot and performed by the energetic and dynamic Jason Potgieter, Shawn Acker, Stefan Erasmus and Dylan Esbach, on for a short run at The Intimate.

It is the fast-paced adventure of a young boy and his fisherman grandfather and how they end up in the sea, then on a submarine, then in a spaceship in a whale, and then back on the surface of the water, with tons of craziness in between.

Jon has written a fun and funny script and Kim has directed the cast with vigour and cleverness. I loved it. I loved voices and great team work, the jumping around of scale and location, the great ‘puppet-hands’ that were fish, boats being tossed on huge waves, periscopes, watery depths, drowning bodies. I loved the crazy, clever story and I loved the little inside jokes. I loved the style of ‘making’ the characters and locations by saying the things that were there, or dressing them.

Find a kid and take them to see the show.

Understanding Ouroboros

Without a doubt I should have read the program before the show, but I was too busy at the #BaxterTTT (Baxter taste and tweet, for those of you who have no idea what I am on about) where I was tasting (more like chugging actually) wine, and tweeting (mainly obscure stuff to @uglibob, @_taramay, @TarrynSaunders, @AlisonFoat and @RobVanVuuren) and taking pictures of my pink boots and posting them on twitter. I should have read the program before!

If I had read the program before, I would have known that all the puppets (except for the obviously not, like the death ones, and the party ones for eg.) represented two people. If I had read the damn program before, and not after, only this morning, I would have known exactly what Ouroboros was about (including the meaning of the title, which I also guessed at), instead of having to make up my own version about what was going on. So, I should have, but I didn’t. And that’s ok.

What I experienced in Ouroboros. Magical, mystical, strange, uncomfortable, often unfathomable trip. Beautiful, magnificent, moving puppets who float in and out of the complicated story like cloud people. Strange art animation that delights and confounds. Haunting music. Moments of heartbreaking theatre beauty. Moments of hard to make sense of preciousness. Exquisite lighting. Confusing. Captivating. Breathtaking. Sad.

A whole paragraph devoted to the puppeteers. Cindy Mkaza, Jason Potgieter, Beren Belknap, Tali Cervati, Gabriel Marchand, Chuma Sopotela. Most extraordinary. Dressed in light clothes they were the opposite of disappearing puppeteers. Especially when they were together they were like a crowd of living ghost people. Sympathetic, egoless, loving, perfect puppeteers. I was in love with them. And they never spoke a word.

Director and conceptualizer and visionary Janni Younge has made a brave (and terrifying) choice. This is a deeply original show. It’s not a Neil Diamond Tribute. In a city where people go and see theatre as a matter of course, as a way of living and reflecting and being this Ouroboros would be full every night with people debating about it, and talking about it, and differing, and getting excited. I am terrified that Cape Town is not that city. My own experience is that we have more of a… Neil Diamond Tribute type audience. So I am going to beg you to see this show. I am not going to say that you will love it, but I am going to say you will have feelings about it, and some of those feelings will have to do with love. And life. And what it’s all about. Challenge yourself.

PS. The child and baby puppets are so beautiful they made me shiver and gasp with delight.

Theatre (in the District)

I went to see an amazing ‘seed of something’ last night at Theatre In the Disctrict, called Crowsong. It’s the mad manic brainchildseed of Jason Potgieter, Jon Keevy and James MacGregor. They say the piece is in its “first draft” stage, usually not a place for an audience to see work, but knowing this and then watching the piece was like having a magical door open into a crazy place/mind/stage/canvas/screen. In terms of production values and techno stuff I thought it was pretty tight actually! I can’t wait to see where it goes. It’s inspiring, and I had that best feeling of almost jealously wanting to work on some crazy shit like that.

Because it is quite openly a ‘work in progress’ I don’t want to say more about it, other than that it was a delight to be there. If you read this today you still have a chance to see it tonight.

One of the things that these guys did was totally transform the stage space. And all they used was brown paper! I love that. I love it.

I’m going to use the rest of this space to talk about the Theatre in the District.Whenever I go there I am struck by possibility. It fills me with the ‘imagine if I won the Lotto’ fantasy of what I would do there to turn the whole building into a performing arts centre.

There are so many reasons why I completely love that place. I first worked there teaching improv to CAP students, when the building housed CAP (Community Arts Project), and I didn’t have a car. I would walk from Vredehoek down to CAP through town and then through what was District 6. This theatre really is in what used to be District 6. Well, totally on the border of what used to be District 6 and Woodstock. The really gommie end of Woodstock (where the chunky parking cherie tells you that your car does and will get broken into unless she is right there to stop it from happening). Now I live in Woodstock, and I have a car. It takes me less than a minute to get there. It really is the theatre in my back yard.

I always rehearse work in on of the old ‘classrooms’ in the building. I love making work there. It has a sense of history. It has a sense of possibility. It has a sense of independence. Mostly, it gives me a sense of nostalgia. It reminds me of my old days in theatre, where you put together a string of dreams with sticky tape and conviction. You decorated it with second hand christmas tinsel, and took down the moth eaten velvet curtain to wear. Then you hung it up again to go behind. Those are the feelings I get when I go to Theatre In the District.

At night, walking through the bushes, next to the stone wall of the old chapel/now theatre, the magic creeps up on you. By the time you walk through the big door that is only opened when a show is on you are already in that other world.

The bar is my favourite “imagine if” space. Every time I’m there I fantasise about performers coming to the bar after every show in Cape Town, to hang out, moan about the critics, skinner about management, bemoan the lack of audiences. I remember Backstage, in town in the 80s. I remember Bob’s Bar in Kloof st in the early 90s, and Don Pedros. I think about staying there, at the bar, and stumbling up the road, full of theatre dreams.

Actors are really bad business people, and probably always will be. And the truth is, I’m still an actor in my soul, making me one of those extremely useless business people. So, my fantasy for Theatre in the District; a performance centre; with rehearsal and masterclass spaces full and active every day, offices humming with the admin of all things theatrical downstairs, a theatre that never has a dark night, and a home from-home-bar close enough for me to spit at from my stoep, will be a fantasy. But, I love thinking about it, and I do, every time I go to the Theatre in The District.

To contact the theatre for rehearsal space/stage space or info email Brian on notty@worldonline.co.za

This is a picture of a bit of the set from last night’s show. It is exactly that thing of tying two bits of string and a paper bag and building endless possibility.

Imagine

The Things You Left Behind

It was a full and who’s who opening night at The Intimate last night for Jason Potgieter‘s The Things You Left Behind. (It’s only on until Saturday, so get there quick Slaapstad). I say Jason’s because he wrote it and stars in it, alongside Alicia McCormick and directed by Kim Kerfoot.

The Things You Left Behind are five monologues by five characters who all tell their perception of the same incident. In fact, there is a TheatreSports game called Point of View that is very similar. Jason plays three characters and Alicia two. The thing they see, or are marginally involved in is an accident, and the monologues deal with their responses, however cursory or detailed.

I have loved seeing Jason on stage ever since I first saw him being the demented shop assistant type somebody in Tamarin McGinley’s Off the Rails. Since then I’ve seen quite a bit of his stuff and I think he is fabulous. In this he really showcases his skill, charm and versatility. His white car guard is classic, original and very funny and his drag queen is delicious.

Alicia is not as successful for me, partly because it feels like she is miscast. She is gorgeous and cute and funny, but seemed far too young to be a mom with an 23 year old son (although I was charmed by her gentle conservatism) and too gorgeous and cute to pull of the heavy, butch, smoking, drinking medic. I’d like to see her doing other stuff that she would be better suited to and someone a whack older taking on these two monologues.

Kim Kerfoot has made nice, simple, clear choices with the direction of the piece. I am sure that as he gets into his groove of directing he will be more ruthless! I sometimes felt he was letting the actors indulge in ‘cute moments’!

The Things You Left Behind is a great introduction to Jason’s writing (there are some writing moment gems, especially in the car guard monologue) which I am sure will develop from here. I love this kind of theatre; accessible, well told stories. The Things I Left Behind is also a confirmation of Jason on stage. Love that actor.

Wrestling with Wrestlers

Wrestlers FDR 05 Last night was the opening night of the second play in Artscape’s New Writing Programme; Wrestlers written and directed by Milton Schorr. And obviously, I’m writing this because I went (although more than one person jokingly asked if I wasn’t a persona-non-grata).

I’m sitting here with many thoughts racing through my mind, mainly whether I should be writing about this at all. To be honest, what’s definitely given me the confidence to sit down and do it is the support that I’ve been shown by many, many individuals involved in the theatre, way exceeding those who left comments here on meganshead. I also remain convinced that even if I am negative about a show my whole point is to give a show publicity, and create awareness about theatre in Cape Town.

I am going to start by repeating myself a bit. Artscape and Roy Sargeant must be celebrated and supported because of this amazing, pro-active, successful campaign that is the New Writing Programme. It gives writers a real chance to get their work out there (including me! I have benefited enormously from it). Where else can you see a whole season of brand new South African plays? Brilliant.

Now to Wrestlers. Milton Schorr has written a weighty, contemporary South African drama about a wheelchair bound man, his wife, drug addict son, imaginary friend and their addictions and dysfunctional relationships. It’s pretty grim stuff. It’s also pretty universal stuff, dealing with the staggeringly devastating effects of drug addiction and alcohol abuse and dependency. The thing that it isn’t is fun.

What is great about this production are the performances. John (or Pa) is captured extremely convincingly and powerfully by Deon Lotz. Even though he is mostly wheelchair bound his performance is enormous, layered and detailed, creating a complicated and human character. He was mindblowingly good. Jason Potgieter, who plays David his son, is definitely a young, up and coming star of the stage. I really enjoy watching him and every time I see him he grows into a stronger, more focused actor. Travis Snyders plays Buddy, the imaginary friend, superbly. It’s a really difficult role; the character is very young, innocent and, because he is a figment of the imagination, completely two dimensional, yet Travis gives him a heart and lightness that is very moving. Deidre Wolhuter has the difficult task of bringing Lily to life. It’s a bitch of a role and she manages really well. I just found her accent a bit inconsistent.

The problems with this play were ones that I am about to face myself. It’s a tough one, but I think that Milton would have done his text more justice if he had given it to somebody else to direct. He was obviously so close to the material and to the details of the performances that the overall rhythm of the piece was lost, making it feel long and relentless. Now (before I get a letter in my Outlook Express) I must make it clear that I thought aspects of Milton’s direction were excellent. His attention to detail and to the ‘needs’ of his characters were amazing. It’s just that the play struggled to find pace and flow.

A thing that bugged me a bit (aside from the technical horror of the ‘not able to ring’ phone! I know that piece-of-shit-phone from past productions) was the timing of stuff. Because the performances and style were realistic it bugged me that people came and went so quickly without a sense that time had passed.

Wrestlers is a perfect example of what needs to be showcased at the Artscape New Writing Programme. It’s a brand new South African text that needs to be worked on, spoken about, explored, debated. It’s a great place for this text to start its life. I am deeply worried about whether there is an audience for this kind of work though. Go on. Go and see it. Talk about it. Prove my theory wrong that SA audiences can only handle bloody Beauty and the Beast.

*above pic taken by Alfred Rietmann during the final dress rehearsal.

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