Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.


KKNK by Simon

Herewith Simon’s final pronouncements on his last day of shows at the KKNK. Next year I’ll have to go myself!

Last day at the KKNK as I head back to Cape Town tomorrow to, amongst other things, participate in the TheatreSports promotional evening at KBT.   Two things under the “General Impressions” banner – this question of reserved vs unreserved seats; one thing reserved seating does do is cut out the mad rush to get in first and get prime seats.    The show I went to last night [of which more later] was due to  start at 20h30 but by that time the previous show was only coming out – something had gone wrong – don’t know what.   The venue staff did the right thing and told us what was happening and everybody obediently got in two queues to get in.   But there was absolutely no angst and attempts to jump the queue as everyone had booked a particular seat and was cool about it.

Then there is the size of the venues – and here I am talking about drama venues not music venues.   Man are they big compared to Grahamstown and they get filled it seems.   Maybe 50 plays and 130 music shows is the right mix.   I remember Deon Opperman telling me very emotionally that he doesn’t like Grahamstown because he gets audiences of 50 to 100 while at the KKNK he gets 500.   I now see what he meant.

Oh and one other thing – if you are a light sleeper and won’t take drugs to cure the problem, don’t book accommodation near the epicentre of the festival as the music bangs on until late, late.

OK so today I went to the markets – here you pay R40 to get into the market area for a day – a sort of a cover charge.   The market here is as bland as the Village Green at Grahamstown has become – stacks of clothing, lots of religious or emotional kitsch and very little of interest.  I bought a magic paint box for each of my grandchildren and a pair of veldskoens for me and that was about it.

Last evening went to see Shaleen Surtee-Richards’ latest show.  A long time ago comedians such as Pip Friedmann made a living out of imitating coloured people and looking back, it was all a bit condescending and not nice.   More recently a number of people, notably the Joe Barber guys and Shaleen herself and others have turned Cape Flats humour into a genuine sub-genre of comedy.   Her latest show “AS EK MAAR GEWEET HET” is well within that sub-genre.   It takes the form of someone in heaven looking back at aspects of her life.  While it has some funny lines, overall it fails.   Some of the subject matter, such as teenage pregnancy and domestic violence, while very much of serious concern, are not done dealt with convincingly.   It all  fell a bit flat and while the audience as a whole tried very hard to enjoy, they too failed.   So a curate’s egg finish.

Final conclusion – I will be back.


Simon Says

More from the theatre festival that I wish I was at! Here is Simon’s Day 2.

Noticed another difference today – most of the tickets here are reserved seating unlike Grahamstown.   Doesn’t seem to make any real difference though except to idiots like me who still want to sit anywhere until they remember they can’t.

Make a huge note of “JANNEMAN” – Sandra Prinsloo, Franci Swanepoel & Hannah Borthwick : direction and script translation – Hennie van Greunen.   DO NOT FORGET THOSE NAMES.  If it comes to a theatre anywhere near you, or even far away from you, kill to get tickets.   Megan says capitals in emails = textual shouting.    MAGNIFICENT, BRILLIANT, WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL THEATRE.   The story of the three women in a family – Grandmother, Mother and Daughter : Karien, Lorraine and Ané.     Funny, sad, insightful and just so well performed and staged.    The “Janneman” of the title is the old man or perhaps the very new to the world man or perhaps both – they don’t appear on stage but they provide the impetus for a lot of what happens.   Same theatre as the first show – no one left.  The actors speak one at time telling of what is unfolding in their lives over the period covered by the piece – the audience started by applauding every time Sandra P spoke; they ended applauding all three after every speech and rose to a man/woman at the end to acclaim “JANNEMAN”.   Sandra P is as always, brilliant; her timing is impeccable, her delivery perfect but, man, the other two match her word for word.   The familial expletive [dismissive expletive] “Jou gat, my skat” will live in my memory for a long time.   SEE THIS SHOW !!

After that went back to Iets Anders [our venue] to see “HATS” [actually “HOEDENS” for the duration of the KKNK] – saw this delightful piece in Grahamstown last year and Pieter Bosch Botha [the director] has “re-edited” the piece.   It is still very good.   Richard Antrobus and Tristan Jacobs entertain and amuse and they are magnificent movers and dancers and acrobats – let’s just say all  round physical theatre performers.  Quite a small audience but an enthusiastic reception and I am sure it will pick up as word of mouth spreads.

Have inside information that “LONDON ROAD” will be reviewed in the festival newspaper, Die Krit, tomorrow.   Breath is bated to see what they thought of it.  We had a decent audience this evening and a good review will hopefully boost us to very decent to sold out ???


Someone I know is at the KKNK

Simon reported from Grahamstown a year ago, when I wasn’t there. Now he’s at the KKNK and he’ll piggy back here for a while. I love his insights. Here are his thoughts after his first day.

Came up to Oudtshoorn yesterday morning having never been to the KKNK before. Obviously I am comparing it to Grahamstown to which I have been going for 22 years odd.

One immediate likeness – the first show I ever saw at Grahamstown in 1989 was and remains perhaps the worst show I have ever seen. The first show I saw here yesterday was its equal. But more of that later. Funnily this to me is a good omen as since that inauspicious start at Grahamstown, I have seen such a lot of bloody good shows there.

So what are the first impressions? Same atmosphere – lekker. Parking is more regulated with quite a lot of designated parking areas on the fringes of the area in which the Festival actually happens and people walk in. Same swarm of informal parking attendants and outright beggars with snotty noses and pitiful expressions.  Generally though drivers quite polite [but then it is the first day !]. Of course it is quite warm and lots of people are wandering around in shorts and slip-slops – none of the coats and beanies that mark Grahamstown early mornings/late nights.  The programme is heavy on music and light on theatre whereas Grahamstown is more the other way around.

I  haven’t worked out yet where the heart of the festival is yet – there is a large area with blocked off roads that seems to be the market and somewhere near there is the Festival office and booking area but today I will find it and get a proper festival booklet etc.

Another things that I am pleased to see hasn’t died out at the KKNK [as it seems to be at Grahamstown] is people voting with their feet. The first show was “DIE KORTSTONDIGE RAKLEWE VAN ANASTASIA W” written by Marlene van Niekerk, directed by Marthinus Basson and performed by Nicole Holm and Eben Genis, both of whom I worked with in “NOAH OF CAPE TOWN”, and others.  The SANW Ouditorium holds about 400 people and was about half full when the show started.  5 minutes in the first couple left and by the time it finished 100 minutes later, more than half of the audience had got up and gone. I exaggerate not.  I stayed to see what the reaction at the end was like – lukewarm to cold by the way – and snuck out quietly avoiding Nicole and Eben in the foyer where they were serving food seemingly as part of the play – weird. The play is [I think – I am certainly not sure because it is so obscure and inaccessible] about the ills of South Africa now – violence, incompetency, corruption and inefficiency with a less than subtle hint that the old times might have been better. The programme [the one I have so far] says you will “rol van die lag” and “snak jou asem van skok” – didn’t hear one laugh or any breathy intakes.

This play has won an award at the Aardklop festival – to me that is simply a good reason not to go to Aardklop. So not a good start.

After that went to the first performance of “LONDON ROAD” [English theatre at the KKNK] – audience of about 80, no one left and standing ovation. Finished off the day sitting outside with my “LONDON ROAD” girls and others braai-ing in the mild Karoo evening. Oh and there was a glass or two of red wine.

Post Oudshoorn. Some thoughts

I got back home on Friday afternoon, and only realised how intense my week had been by measuring how tired I was.

A festival is such a different energy it doesn’t feel like real life. Also, I was winging it there and having to jump from pillar to post, learn quickly in an unfamiliar environment and get to know people, places and roads from scratch.

I saw two lekker shows. I ate roosterbrood and jam and cheese. I met more than a few new people, and I networked a bit with some others. I stayed in a beautiful home, and enjoyed my delightful hostess Tina and husband Coen. I walked early every morning (except for the last one when I had to be at work at 6ish). I saw three Hoepoes one morning. I couldn’t believe how many 4x4s there were on the roads. I thought about going to shul on Wednesday for the Pesach service, but didn’t get there. I realised that having an early morning ceremony and expecting actors and theatre people to attend is a bit like hitching the wrong way up a one way street. I saw a baby hippo. I saw an albino ostrich.

I realised that festival organisers have the hardest jobs. I realised that the Oudshoorn KKNK is first a festival and then an arts festival and the two don’t necessarily ever meet or share things.

While most people were uncomfortable with some of the content, language and accessibility of the theatrical work, I was uncomfortable with some of the people. I was amazed by the campers, on every school field and parking lot. I was amazed by the meat. I was amazed by the drinking. I was unnerved by that special, drunk, middle of the night shouting.

I was amazed by the collective unconsciousness, with shows all coming up with the same symbols, the same angst, the same references. (This year the bible references were particularly strong). I was amazed at how many Afrikaans singers I have never even heard about, let alone heard.

I was amazed that despite my feeling like a rank outsider I kept on looking for and considering the possibility of my future involvement there. Theatre slut that I am.

There is no doubt that there is a theatre audience at the KKNK. It’s an audience that loves Sandra Prinsloo. They love actors who have starred on TV. They love Marthinus Basson, and Marthinus Basson directing Reza de Wet. They love Chris Chameleon (and so do I). There is no doubt that I am torn between serving such an audience and ignoring them. We are not on the same page. I loved Ararat. This KKNK audience was irritated that they didn’t understand it.

I guess I still have quite a lot of thinking to do. Thanks to my friend who needed my help and made my trip to the festival possible.

Onder Constructie

onderconstructie8-1- The first time I came to the KKNK festival the one show I saw and loved was a collaboration between South Africans and a Dutch theatre group called Werner Consortium (I think). The Dutch are a feature of this festival, with three site specific works on offer. I went to see Onder Constructie today, and absolutely loved it.

I must confess, I got so lost trying to find the performance space (it was absolutely wrongly placed in the festival booklet) and I ended up in tacky flea-market hell, with toy AK47s, boerewors rolls, Klipdrift gardens, beer gardens, cider gardens, cheap sunglasses and many and varied other stinky stuff. I had given up actually, and had gotten into my car and driven away when I saw the venue in the main drag!

I am so glad I found it. The construction site is home to a set of broken fridges, washing machines and a huge, unfamiliar metal frame construction. This set is populated by four crazy, physical performers who climb, slide, fall, clown, stage fight, make nests, drag tents, have wars, bury comrades, explode, find water, and move the whole set around to build a giant megalomanic powered wall! The story is amazingly clear, with very few words spoken, and is political, clever and very moving, while being surprising and hilarious.

The KKNK has invested a lot in site specific work this year, and it is wonderful to watch a theatrical experience in the most unexpected of places. Tomorrow I’m off to see another one, called Ararat.


I woke up in another world this morning. A chain of interesting and unforeseen events has brought me to Oudshoorn Klein Karoo Nationale Kunstefees, and I’m under an umbrella in the sweltering heat at a funny table, just outside Die Burgersentrum, with the smell of braai and roosterbrood strong in the air, furiously writing before my battery runs out.

Famous last words. My battery did run out. Luckily Windows Live Writer saved what I had done and I’m back at the guesthouse writing while my battery charges, but I’ll have to go back into town to post it! I spent the morning wondering around, trying to find WI-FI and I don’t know if it was because I’m probably one of four English speakers in the whole town, but nobody really knew what I was talking about, and the only definite answer I got was from an actual internet cafe who explained that because of blah blah blah and blah blah blah, nobody except the Oudshoorn Hotel had WI-FI.

The hotel was far away and I was meeting someone close by and I really didn’t want to give up my amazing parking spot, so I switched on my computer and managed to find a WI-FI connection and connected! I think I am the only person who knows it exists!

So here I am. For just under a week, helping my friend with her enormous workload, including the organising of the Kanna Award Ceremony. And it’s a real eye opener. The only other time I came to this festival was about 13 years ago and it was a horrible, conservative affair, famous for being the year that Miriam Makeba was ‘thrown with’ cans, and Steve Hofmeyr punched a reporter. Thirteen years later the festival is a well-oiled machine, and the Kanna offices are testimony to that. They are calm and cool and serene, with the cars and bustle and flea-markets and beer tents and braai downstairs on the streets. It’s as if there are two festivals here; the high art creative one and the man in the street one. It takes some getting used to.

I must say though, what has stood me in unbelievably good stead with the theatre community is the winning of  the Fleur du Caps. Instant cred and recognition, I tell you. Thanks again FdC and Distell.

So, while I’m here I’ll get to see some of the shows; which is most cool. And then I’ll write about them; which is cooler.

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