Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Juliet Jenkin

Big Girl Huge Heart Giant Talent

I don’t know how to write this to make you go. I don’t know which words to use to explain why I started crying last night during the opening of Big Girl at The Intimate Theatre, written and directed by Juliet Jenkin and performed by Daneel van der Walt, and why I couldn’t stop. And even now, thinking about it, I am feeling that familiar prickling. Is it because I haven’t slept properly (the puppies are a force of anti-sleep) and I am anxious about certain work stuff?

Or is it because this one-woman-show about Sylvia Smorkel is an extraordinary feat? This beautifully written piece is whimsical, harrowing, hilarious, cute and totally powerful, and it needs someone exactly like Daneel van der Walt to pull it off. She is unbelievable. She reaffirms her position in my list of top three actresses in Cape Town.

To be honest, I am not often comfortable with the portrayal of this subject matter on stage (I won’t spell it out here and be a spoiler) but it comes upon you so creepily, sideways-ish that by the time you are in it you are taken and Sylvia has moved inside you and is squeezing you from the inside and forcing rivers of tears out of your eyes. There is something so extraordinary, unusual and original about a girl getting bigger and stronger after doing some bad stuff. Usually women are victims and they get smaller after every moment that makes them prey.

So, for all the reasons this story is a little hard to believe, it is the easiest to believe, because of the tree, because of the atlas, because of this person who, even though she says it about lots of other things, is the saddest thing.

I am begging you to go and see this beautiful work. It will change you.

Post GIPCA thinking

I will steal Juliet’s numbering system (stealing was a theme too) and put down some random post GIPCA Directors and Directing Playwrights thoughts here. You are welcome to add your own in the comments section. One of the best parts of the GIPCA forum is that it engages such lively debate; both on and off the floor.

1. It is totally different being a participant. Different, exiting, good, complicated.

2. I love the talking, but still, ultimately, I love watching performance more.

3. I love the range of work on offer and the many voices that make them.

4. I am amazed that there  is a genuine market for this sort of symposium. Who would have thought?

5. Jay Pather is amazing.

6. Malcolm Purkey, Mark Fleishman, Penny Youngelson, Mandla Mbothwe, Myer Taub, Brett Bailey, to name a few off the top of my head, are very clever.

7. I love that Tracey Saunders and Marina Griebenouw attend the whole thing.

8. I am surprised how frustrated I get when people’s questions are inarticulate or rambling, and then mine end up being that too.

9. I am shocked at how uncomfortable arrogance makes me.

10. I am shocked at how badly I need feedback.

12. I am intrigued about how different the male and female voices in theatre are.

13. I am amazed that the struggle, war, debate is the same.

14. I like GIPCA’s catering.

15. The event has an amazing organisational team, and Adrienne and Themba in particular rock.

16. The theatre world is not generous enough.

17. Actors, directors, writers and academics are very complicated.

18. I have a group of magnificent and supportive friends.

19. It is easier to perform if you know the words.

20. Improv is a huge love.

21. I admire Amy Jephta. She is always so clear.

22. Sunday mornings are not an easy time to perform.

23. Brett Bailey is king of design.

24. You can watch good theatre in any language and understand or be moved. Thando Doni’s Eutopia was fabulous.

25. Our world is different now that there is a GIPCA symposium accepted as a yearly reality.

26. Nicholas Spagnoletti is hilarious.

27. We all know each other, mostly.

28. I am torn between continuing writing this blog, and not writing it. Is it helpful, damaging, bullshit, useful? Let me know.

29. I made new friends and I am a fan of more.

30. I conclude that theatre is not for sissies. (I have no idea who it is actually for)

 

Unconquered by Mary and The Conqueror

My date (a theatre loving actress) and I popped off to Artscape‘s Arena last night for the opening of The New Writing Season’s 2011 first offering, Juliet Jenkin’s Mary and The Conqueror. I am feeling particularly indebted to those involved in this programme because of the support, belief and opportunity they gave my play The Tent, so I really wanted to love this production but I really didn’t.

The premise is; on a beach in some weird waiting afterlife, Mary Renault the author meets one of her historical characters that she was obsessed with, Alexander the Great. This is how they both end up reflecting on the loves of their lives, both same sex relationships. After analysing their lives and accepting some stuff Mary is able to ‘get into the water’ with Alexander and leave.

The cast is Diane Wilson, Adrienne Pearce, Armand Aucamp and Francis Chouler and they are directed by Roy Sargeant.

The big question about this production, and the play itself, is why? What’s the point? No doubt there are answers somewhere but they don’t end up on stage. The interactions between Mary and Alexander drag on repetitively, with her responding in the same way to his questions (and in the same tone) and he refusing to give a straight answer in a weird coughing up of trying to find the words. While both boys are terribly pretty in their little white Speedos (why little white Speedos, I have no idea) we have no real sense of the lives that they lead, and the ups and downs of the relationship between the conqueror and his general ends up feeling a little trite and immature, and mostly, quite boring. It’s hard to follow all the talking about stuff that happened or will happen, but never happens on stage. It’s odd hearing them speak in a funny pseudo Italian accent. It’s awkward watching them pose and swagger, caress and fight. It’s a bit like chaaf chaaf acting, even though they are both very pretty in their little white Speedos (or have I already said that?).

The women fare a little better with a more genuine and earnest exploration of their relationship, but it’s also repetitive, and predictable. Their secret love affair, played out against the background of a conservative Camps Bay community never quite sparks to life after the promise of the first scene, although I really enjoyed Adrienne Pearce’s character and performance.

The moment of the piece for me was Adrienne Pearce in her monologue; slightly different from the style of the rest of the play, where she is shatteringly revealing about becoming ill, and it is deeply moving. We needed many more of these.

Part edutainment/reenactment historical, part secret same gender relationships in a tough time, part how to live with a difficult and ambitious figure, nothing really gets going here. While Alfred Rietmann does a great job of making it look beautiful, it’s all a little pointless and rather dreary. Sorry.

CLAN Can

A modern, local, young and fresh vampire play, right around the corner from where I live! I went to see CLAN last night and it was vamp-tastic. Best play I’ve seen this year. It’s on at Theatre in the District, but only for a week, so if you want to be part of the inner circle of cool with style and meaning, and be surrounded by the hot young blood of the cast and crew, hurry and don’t get all Capetonian or you’ll miss it.

CLAN is the brainchild of Francesco Nassimbeni, who wrote and directs. It’s a huge cast of seven (in this day and age) and they are in no particular order, Richard Lothian (who I just completely love) Nicole Bailey (who I haven’t seen before but who was delicious), Gahlia Phillips (the beautiful), Armand Aucamp (the completely most delicious), Roxanne Blaise (doing the best and most fabulous work I’ve seen her do), Johann Vermaak (who is very funny) and Juliet Jenkin (who is totally power, quirky, perfect). That’s all I’m going to say about them individually because CLAN is pure teamwork, on every level.

It’s a great story, well rehearsed and developed. The simple set is brilliant. The cozzies are fabulous (except for the bras; my only niggle). The cast look and sound fantastic in the space. The huge high ceilings of the ex-chapel (I know!) and the massive chandelier are perfect. The lighting works. The choreography works. The characters are successful. The show captivates from the first word (and lighter) to the last. The music (did I hear Klaus Nomi; the immortal from my past?) is perfect. The combination of sexy, earnest, funny, loveable, is exactly what will make people (especially young disaffected non-theatre goers) want to see the show (more than once even) and be part of CLAN. Even I had a yearning to go clubbing and drinking (my friend’s blood).

You can book by email on wearetheclan@gmail.com (how can you resist it?) It costs R40. I kid you not. Really, you can’t get anything for R40.

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