Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Kalk Bay

White Christmas – Cape Town is Racist 2

I got a comment yesterday on my 2017 post about how Cape Town is racist, almost exactly a year after having written it, confirming that nothing has changed. It is bizarre and surreal to me.

One of the few really integrated spaces in Cape Town is Muizenberg beach. And it is one of the few places I feel totally at home at and my most true self. It is a multicoloured, multi-aged, multi-language space where when it’s crowded you sit cheek by jowl with rich and poor, young and old and every shade of human skin. It is what is possible.

Kalk Bay on the other hand is  a segregated space with black people serving almost exclusively white customers. It’s frightening, especially since the whiteness of the space seems so ‘normal’ to those wandering up and down the streets and seated at the restaurants, bars and coffee shops.

I know I am super aware of these things, but everyone should be. Everyone should notice.

I went with my brother to a spot on Moullie Point’s strip on Friday evening. A friend was playing background music at sundowner time. I was so relieved to see a mixed crowd of middle class jollers there, with kids and dogs added to the mix. I felt like I could breathe a bit. Of course the staff was totally black and mostly Zimbabwean, but at least the patrons were not wall to wall white.

We hung out there for long enough that the people around us changed, and a white and wide couple took up a spot just next to us. And my brother had a moment when the woman, without even looking up at the server when she brought their piled high plates of food, said, “We are going to need more plates.” Not thank you, not please, not when you have a moment. My brother said, “What’s wrong with people? How can anyone be that rude to someone else?”

This woman was unconscious. She didn’t even realise that she was talking to a person. My brother rightly pointed out that nobody needs extra plates. What was happening here was the language of privilege, demand, taking up space and superiority. This woman didn’t even know she was being rude. Just like so many white people don’t even know they are being racist and will deny it and be offended if you point it out.

The truth is, if you are white in Cape Town it is entirely possible to live the old white lifestyle, and many people do. These people moan about a government that has little or no effect on them personally (unless they are complaining about the exchange rate), they have access to cheap labour and private transport, and are fortunate enough to have a buffer zone of the coloured middle class to shield them from the real poor and disenfranchised communities they have no direct contact with except for those that clean their houses.

In Cape Town there are still entirely white neighbourhoods. In Cape Town the white voice is loud. In Cape Town it is entirely possible to sit in a restaurant with only white patrons. In Cape Town you can be an audience of only white skins. And this is mad, hideous, unacceptable but totally true.



The illusive, mysterious Theatre Audience

I’ve had a great weekend of publicity. There was a really positive review of Good Will Acting in the Sunday Times, and it’s fabulous when the reviewer really ‘gets’ it. Then, there was a delightful interview with me in the Weekend Argus. Aside from making me feel like the bee’s knees, I am so, so keen for the possibility that this will help bring people to the show.

We are in that situation (a common one, I know) where our audiences are really, really small. On Saturday night our audience of twenty found it difficult to contain themselves, they were loving it so much, and when they left they were baffled by how few of them were there. Each of them promised to tell their friends, etc, etc, but the truth is I’m facing another hard week of phoning, facebooking and nagging all the people I know who haven’t made it yet to come.

All the excuses are there. Apparently it’s a bad time of year with so much else on and people watching their pockets. Really? I actually thought it was the best time of year to put on a silly, seasonal inspired piece of delight that people would want to come to. Silly me! Apparently Kalk Bay is really far. Come on! People travel from Cape Town to Stellenbosch for wine! Then there’s the argument about ticket prices. What are people prepared to pay to see a show? I guess what is making me completely ‘gek’ is that it is so hard getting people in, but once they’re there they can’t believe how fantastic it is.

Which brings me to the thing that has been bugging me since we started this run. Where are all the actors and theatre people, and why don’t they ever go to the theatre? Good Will Acting is made with the Cape Town actor in mind; it is about Cape Town actors. In fact, most of the criticism leveled at the show has been that a lot of the jokes are very in-house. We wanted it to appeal to actors and theatre people. We wanted to poke fun at them (and ourselves obviously) and it is a homage to actors in Cape Town and what the ‘season’ can be like. Needless to say, the response from fellow actors, actor friends and industry related people has been completely underwhelming. And I’ve heard every excuse in the book from some of my friends. They have ranged from being short of money, to not having the time, to promising they’ll be there, to not having baby sitters. I have heard every one. And I have had to face up to the fact that they don’t actually want to come. That is the really hard part. And it’s the part I don’t get at all.

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It’s so weird; if I haven’t written for more than a day or two I get pangs of guilt. They are funny pangs; directionless, vague, unsettling and even a bit irritating. And they build up, each day that goes by. I woke up this morning needing to break the cycle and the only thing on my mind is Good Will Acting.

I suppose it’s always like that with work that one has created one’s own very self. That, and the fact that our first real week of performance started last night and bookings are heartbreakingly slow. I know that there are all sorts of reasons why; school hasn’t come out yet and people are still crazy at work with end of year functions, blah blah blah, so we’ve put together first week packages of two for ones, and by the end of yesterday’s working day we had 24 bookings last night. (Huge sigh of relief).

The audience was made up of beautiful, loyal and supportive friends, total strangers, and Nicholas’s mother. It is so important to me that my friends (especially my theatre friends) like my work, and they absolutely did! Yeeha for that! And then there is Nicholas’s mother. She is what is known in laughter yoga circles as a laughter blaster. This means that someone’s laugh sets everyone else off, and she does. She guffaws. And she did so last night! It must be said that Nicholas and Edward came to the opening on Saturday and then again last night with their parents, because they thought the show was funny! And Sebastian, who is about ten gave it an 81/2 out of ten. I sat in the lighting box and giggled to the sounds of my friends cackling and bleating with laughter!

The hard slog of building an audience is far from over. Please try and make it if you are around. It really is such a beautiful space, in a beautiful place; Kalk Bay is magnificent right now.

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