Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: London Road

Featured Actor 4

Ntombi Makhutshi. Yo, I love that lady! Ntombi chose to do my industrial theatre project even though it clashed with something else she was booked to do, partly because I begged her so hard. When I saw Ntombi in London Road I couldn’t wait for the chance to work with her one day and then, boom, she was Energina, with huge energy, enthusiasm and enjoyment; carrying a whole 40 minute production on her shoulders. She was fantastic.

In Good Will Acting Ntombi blows me away. Her character is so huge and funny and no holds barred that I think she freaks people out! And I don’t just mean the fellow characters in the play. She makes me laugh so much with just a look, or in this case a click of her tongue.

She is a dream actress to work with; attentive, dedicated, warm, passionate and so, so talented. I don’t have to say watch this lady. You won’t be able to help yourself.

Simon Says

This could turn out to be the beginning of a good relationship! Here’s Simon’s second post. Remember, you read it first on meganshead, when this guy gets his own blog!
And also, bravo and congrats to London Road!

Having read the first report, I can see that the immediate effect of the Fest on a festino is that the spelling goes !!!! But putting that behind me, the BREAKING NEWS is that “LONDON ROAD” has won a Standard Bank Ovation Award – this is something new to the 2010 Festival and plays get nominated by journos at the Festival and then a committee headed by a doyen of critics, Adrienne Sichel selects the winning productions.
To quote the Festival organisers “the new Standard Bank Ovation award recognises and celebrates innovation and excellence on the Fringe programme of the National Arts Festival by putting the spotlight on cutting edge-work that is strong, diverse and original”. Winners are publicly announced in Cue. Stickers bearing the Standard Bank Ovation will be awarded to each of the winners for display on their poster and inclusion on their marketing material. On the last day of the National Arts Festival, the winners of the Standard Bank Golden Ovation awards will be announced for five categories and each production will receive a prize of R 5 000, sponsored by Standard Bank.

So the third day – still not a lot of people around – I mean finding parking at venues is not difficult, queues are short or shortish and the craft markets are quiet. A quiet day for me as well – first up was “WOMB TIDE” – the new offering from FTH:K. Written by Lara Foot and directed by Rob “Ugli Bob” Murray, with Liezl de Kock, Daniel Buckland, Kim Kerfoot and Emilie Starke, it is another example of how FTH:K have made an art form of non-verbal communication. Allied of course with their work in the field of deaf theatre, this has become their trademark over the last few years. The original script was as wordy as one would expect [so I am told] and has been rewritten. This was the piece’s first performance and it is excellent. Following the fortunes of a couple who meet, marry and adopt when they can’t have children, it highlights the plight of people, old and young, who are involved in the informal adoption world. But it is more than that alone and looks closely at the family dynamics as well. It is funny and sad. The set, props and background soundtrack are simply brilliant and are used to great effect by the performers. A standing ovation to set/prop ddesigners Craig Leo, Leila Anderson and Emilie Starke and sound designers James Webb and Brydon Bolton. See this one if you can.

Next up was “KRUISPAD” – no man come on !!! Described thus in the programme – “when a prominent Afrikaans businessman and politician is murdered at Crossroads, his household is left in turmoil. In this thriller – a modern twist on a classic tale – lies, deception and the decay of a society are exposed through graphic sex, violence and rituals. Not for the squeamish “. Ooohh my jina – Brett Kebble en alles. Let me say no more than that when the lights failed half way through and they had to stop to fix them, [and when the play had moved onto to the day after the cremation of the deceased with the actors still wearing their funeral clothes of the day before] it was a heartfelt opportunity to slip away. Wim Vorster as writer and director has not done Afrikaans theatre any good with this offering and has not drawn any notable performances from the actors. I can’t bring myself to name them as I don’t think it was their fault.

Today is a 5 play day so deep breath …………

AWOL from G’town

It’s blatantly obvious that I’m not in Grahamstown this year, and I can’t say I’m too sorry. It always seemed like a bit of a stretch doing 17 days of (oh dear theatre gods please let it be) “amazing”. And from what it sounds like, opening on a Sunday is a bit like smoking in the shower; a bad idea, not worth the effort. But the one thing about those at the fest is their eternal optimism and hope that it will get better, coupled with the hit-or-miss possibility that you might have an unexplainable success on your hands! But my dear friend Simon Cooper is there, flying the flag, and he is going to be high-jacking meganshead for as long as I let him, with his thoughts and feelings about the Grahamstown fest of twentyten.

Here are his first impressions.

Thoughts of a  festino/producer :

Grahamstown 2010! The first 2 days are  done. Not a lot of people around as yet. There is a  growing view that perhaps the decision to start on a sunday was not good. But there is something of a buzz about. Hope it  grows.

My play, “London Road” [Robyn Scott and Ntombi Makhutshi –  directed by Lara Bye – Princess Alice daily at 12h00], performed at 12h00  Sunday for the first time at the fest – about 20 people but a great  reception.  Monday saw the audience treble and a winner of a review in  the cue 50 words section – “seldom is such theatrical brilliance seen on the  fringe”.   Triple yah.   Cue is playing ball so far  – yesterday they followed Robyn as she transforms from a 37 year old to a 75  year old and we hoping for a splash in cue today or  tomorrow.

Saw “Backstory” – a new piece by dancer and  physical theatre guy, Craig Norris and Barry Strydom. Not  bad but needs serious work and again raises the question of whether  performers should be allowed to bring work to the fest that is not  quite performance ready and run it in?  “Backstory” is based around  the theory of evolution and takes the from of a lecture to an erudite  academic body.   Barry Strydom, the guy who plays the prof  delivering the lecture, should be replaced – he plays as if he is a little  boy being clever – he’s trying to be the hyper-intelligent but naive  academic but no he is puerile.   He does however give Craig the  scope to play around with man’s development and learning process.

Also  saw an older piece that i had not seen before, Sharleen Surtie-Richards’  “Shirley Valentyn” – standing ovation.  I loved it but then I love that  local cape humour which is used so effectively in this translated  performance.

Woke up monday feeling tired already but a  cup of coffee later and that indomnitable festino sprit coursed thru my  veins and i am ready to face the next day of shows.   First up was  “Skrapnel” [written by Willem Anker, featuring Marcel van Heerden,  Andrew Thompson and Jenine Groenewald, directed by Jaco Bouwer].    This play got a huge write up in cue on monday but left me and I think most  of the audience wondering what it was about.   Very wordy, very  long, very boring.

Then Craig Morris again  with “Blood Orange” – physical theatre, well performed and entertaining but  it tells of a white boy growing up in pre 1994 south africa and one is left  with the feeling of “oh boy – not again”.   Greig Coetzee’s “white  men with weapons” springs to mind.   Lastly another Afrikaans  piece badly attended – this is bad : the organisers are trying hard to  attract more Afrikaans theatre to what is primarily an English language  event and people don’t go.   18 + 2 performers + 5 photographers  in a theatre holding 277.   Nee wat mense !!!   “Dinsdae  by Morrie” [Chris van Niekerk & Pedro Kruger : translated and directed  by Hennie van Greunen] is a great piece concenring the relationship between  a student and “that” teacher [prof actually] who changes your  life.   Gently humourous, attractive and quite  insightful.   Well worth seeing and I hope more people  do.

The thrid day dawns – too  much red wine last night with old friend. Koffie en courage – we  hit the well travlled road to Grahamstown.

I’m not feeling jealous yet!

London Road

London Road_40 Last night was the ‘world premiere’, as Simon Cooper (owner of The Kalk Bay Theatre, theatre producer and all round theatre lover) proclaimed of Nicholas Spagnoletti’s play London Road. It was a glamorous affair at my favourite independent theatre in Cape Town.

I feel like I have already been on a long journey with London Road, having seen both staged play readings of the play over the years, so I felt like I knew what to expect from the characters and story. Wrong!

London Road is a two hander, set in sea Point. It is about the unlikely friendship that develops between Rosa (Robyn Scott), an old and sickly Jewish granny, and Stella (Ntombi Makhutshi), a Nigerian drug dealer. Lara Bye directs, with design by Craig Leo and lighting by Faheem Bardien.

I have to say that I cried. A lot. It is a very moving piece. Unexpectedly moving. And that is because this team of creators have done a fabulous job. Nicholas has written characters that any actress would die to play. Jealous is how I feel! Lara has teased out the script with Nicholas, making it subtle, poignant and very, very moving, and the actresses are completely brilliant. Craig Leo’s design, and by that I mean his magic drawers that bring out everything but the kitchen sink, is the perfect solution to the play.

Robyn Scott is a master of transformation. She becomes my great auntie Hilda. Rosa is so completely…Rosa. Her attention to detail, her weird little vocalisations, her make-up, her funny old lady sandals, her constantly moving little hand. She is a master. Ntombi Makhutshi is gorgeous, powerful and just so engaging. It is a treat to watch these two on stage.

I cannot think of a single reason why anyone in Cape Town shouldn’t see this play. It is proof that a play can grow, develop, be reworked and become something totally precious and beautiful. Bravo to all.

Done London

I think it’s weird that there are two little independent plays with London in their title in the Cape Town ether at the same time. Last night I went to see Done London at The Intimate, and the writer of London Road, Nicholas Spagnoletti, was there too. His play opens tomorrow at the Kalk Bay Theatre.

I have read two very good crits about Done London which are out there, and really, I don’t have much to add. It’s a very sweet and totally watchable production with some lovely performances, particularly by Julia Anastasopoulos, Deborah Vieyra and Mark Elderkin. Francesco Nassimbeni directs.

Yes, the script is a bit thin. Yes, there are the usual Saffer stereotypes, and yes, the play has managed to date itself that quickly, since Saffers are no longer eligible for a two year working visa to the UK. Still. I thought it was delightful. And I think it rang quite true.

It’s great to see a big cast in a tiny, independent production. It’s great to do absolutely no work as an audience but to sit back and enjoy the experience. Mark Elderkin and Deborah Vieyra are hilarious, and Julia Anastasopoulos (spell that after a dop!) delivers a bitter sweet and very real heartsick, homesick, wannabe actress doing a kak job in London. Been there. Done that. So horrible.

Done London is worth the R70 ticket for the enjoyment of a totally ‘unboring’ theatre experience. I think people keep comparing it to a TV sitcom because it is fun to watch. Off you go then. It’s on until this Saturday.

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