Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Mark Fleishman

Voices made Night

Walking across the stage area of The Flipside to get to the seats was like walking through a zombie graveyard. The occasional movement of one of the scattered bodies lying in the dirt or propped up next to a wall or draped over a piece of set was creepy. Once we had negotiated the journey to our seats I giggled as I watched girls hold their dresses to stop the one body from being able to look up their skirts. And those two feelings, giggling and creepy, set the tone for the piece.

Voices Made Night (directed by Mark Fleishman and with Jennie Reznek, Faniswa Yisa, Mfundo Tshazibane, Dann-Jaques Mouton, Thando Doni, Chiminae Ball, Richard September) is a revisit of The Magnet Theatre’s staging of Mia Couto’s strange and wonderful short stories. I remember how I felt after watching the original production in 2001 even though I couldn’t remember an actual specific thing. And once this one started I had a similar sensation. It washed over me, and I sat there letting each image, message, character and story take me on a teeny journey, before letting it go, and experiencing the next one.

The ensemble cast are really strong where it matters. They work absolutely brilliantly together. The set is fantastic and the music is wonderful and evocative. The costumes and make-up are totally fabulous. My only teeny nigggle was the pace; which is either deadly slow or hysterical, and I think there could be much more in between.

This production is either your kinda cuppa, or not. It was mine.

 

 

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)

 

Brand new Magnet’s Die Vreemdeling

Last night’s was a double opening; a new theatre and a new play (for Cape Town). That’s quite an undertaking. And it was great. Bravo Magnet Theatre (Mark Fleishman and Jennie Reznek) and everyone else involved in both the theatre and the play. My hugest hope is that people from all over Cape Town will come and see work in this space.

Die Vreemdeling was a great choice to initiate the space. The simple story is about what happens when a stranger is let into a paranoid and defensive small town by a young girl. She opens her gate and her heart and that’s where the ‘strond’ begins. The simple set spread out over the big floor space and was even dwarfed by the high, high ceilings.

The style of Die Vreemdeling is physical theatre; a story told by actors who play lots of characters (and things) and switch from song narration to scene, from actor character to story character and even switch which actor plays which character. It is also created quite specifically from and for a particular West Coast coloured audience (there are obvious bits of Joe Barber and that Jan Spies style of Wes Kus character and humour).

It was especially exciting last night when the play started and the audience sat back to watch. The three man cast; Ephraim Gordon, Rudi Malcolm and Dann-Jaques Mouton are the the most charming performers who connect with the audience from the first moment. Ephraim Gordon switches from a shaky old guy, Lippe, to a young girl just like that. I adored his character Ella. I think he was my favourite. Dann-Jaques Mouton is amazing. He is so tall and skinny and he looks like a palm tree with his dreads; yet he is unbelievably versatile as a physical performer. His windpomp and chicken were an absolute highlight. I think he was my favourite. And Rudi Malcolm, the guy with the guitar; the vreemdeling, and the policeman! He played the baddie and the goodie! He was my favourite.

I really, really enjoyed this play. Accessible, moving, delicious Afrikaans, great performances, touching story, lovely set and lighting. But here are my two tiny niggles. Frances Marek, the talented and gorgeous, is credited as assistant director, and she was on stage moving furniture. I don’t know why, but this upset me. And the other thing is less of a niggle and more of a ‘big sigh’ moment. From the beginning of the play I felt like I was watching a different version of my own The Tent; what happens when a stranger comes to town. I know all of our stories are part of a collective consciousness but I often have the feeling that some theatre makers need to make a bigger effort to see each others’ work.

Onward, forward, upward. The snacks after the show looked delicious. But I’m on a bit of a regime (I’ll write about it closer to the time). Let’s get the word out there. A new show in a new space is hard to publicise. I must just say that it is so easy to find The Magnet Theatre. Drive down Lower Main Road, Obz, from Station Road, say, towards town. See the sign on the right hand side, go park and you are there. Get there early for proper safe and totally controlled off street parking!

Sunday in G’town

Yesterday was seriously long; we had a 10am and 10pm TheatreSports show and I needed to keep myself as busy as I could in between. Hectic.

At 12 I went to see Phillippa Yaa de Villiers in her one woman show, which is mostly autobiographical, called Original Skin. It was during this performance that I was again reminded of the difficulties of festival performing, especially when your piece is small and trying to be poignant and you have what sounded like loud community/protest/drumming theatre in the room behind you. Phillippa’s story is touching, warm and heartfelt, and there were moments when I had more than just a lump in my throat. I just struggled with the direction, which was, dare I say it, boring. The feel of the play is old fashioned, and while there are many moments of genuine loveliness in the text and writing, the show climbs gently onto and sits on an unmoving bus for the most part. I left feeling a little disappointed that my friend’s amazing story wasn’t very well presented.

I wanted to see something at 2pm but I honestly could not find a thing to see. I read the daily schedule about 11 times and went to have some lunch instead. Then, at 4.30pm I went to see The Magnet Theatre’s Every Year Every Day I am Walking, directed by Mark Fleishman and performed by Jennie Reznek and Faniswa Yisa. I am probably one of the last people in SA to have seen the show; it has been everywhere, and all overseas too. I am so happy I finally saw it and it is definitely my Best of the Fest. Of course it bothers me that it is a show that has had to travel and perform everywhere to gather a big G’town audience, and Ugli Bob, you are much on my mind as I formulate new ideas and thoughts around the whole festival shebang. Nonetheless, Every Year Every Day I am Walking was great. A beautiful story, consummately told, with its own original style, flavour and signature. It was absolutely moving, beautiful theatre. This was what I was looking for at the fest. I loved it and I wished I had seen it earlier because I despised this particular (big) festival audience with a passion. The young man next to me had one of those noisy windbreaker jackets on, which wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t kept falling asleep and dropping his head either forward, back or even sideways towards me. Every time he did this his jacket made those loud shifting sounds. Then, five minutes before the end of the show I heard a noise behind me and a voice I recognised as Simon saying, “Sit down!” These two idiots were trying to leave! They were obviously going to be late for something else they had booked for and were trying to sneak out of the theatre from way at the back, on hectic scaffolding that booms and clangs with every step you take! I wish that was all, but no, the woman in front of me’s cellphone went off, and instead of diving into her bag and switching the thing off she just put her bag down and ignored it. I kid you not. I finally had to tap her on the shoulder and tell her to turn it off. It’s not like there wasn’t the pre-recorded message before the show, virtually pleading with people to find their phones and switch them off! So poor Jennie and Faniswa competed with these two lumps and a cellphone retard in their final, resolution moments and both they and I wanted to kill.

The recession has not affected how people spend money on food and drink here at the fest. I popped into the Long Table at about 6.15pm, (Dulce’s, with Wi-fi was full) and in ten minutes flat, after I had gotten my micro-waved food and sat down, the place had become a zoo, with a queue to the door and tons of people smoking inside. Unbearable. I left, with still some few hours to go before our last show at 10.

Then I hit on a brainwave. I decided to go and see Sleight of Mind, Stuart Lightbody and Bryan Miles doing their special brand of magic. They perform in the same venue as us, so I would just be there, ready for our show afterwards. The venue was filled to the brim with schoolboys. I felt a bit sorry for them because they were desperate to be volunteers at every moment but older, bigger ones were always chosen. This hour long magic show was a delight. Both magicians are slick, cute and charming, and they work fantastically well together, supporting each other and moving seamlessly from one thing to the next. A very cool show, with an amazing newspaper trick at the end.

TheatreSports had had a great show in the morning, but 10pm proved to be a bit of a struggle. We got through it ok, but it wasn’t our best, that’s for sure. And that sums up the festival for me, with a day to go. Not my best, but I got through it ok.

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