Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Nicola Hanekom

Hol hol hol

I can honestly say I have never seen anything like it ever. Hol is Nicola Hanekom’s one woman tour de force (she wrote it and performs it) directed by Fred Abrahamse, and it opened at Artscape’s Arena Theatre as part of this year’s Artscape’s Season of New Writing.

Now I knew all about this piece; Nicola and I have spoken about it before, but nothing could have prepared me for it, and I was undone by this most brilliant show. Picture this. As you enter the theatre the glaring white perspex box of the set (brilliantly designed by Marcel Meyer) frames a treadmill. The character that Nicola plays, Lisbet, is already on it, walking and running, and drinking water. And that is where she stays, for the next hour. For the next hour she is on that treadmill, running. Running away, running towards thinness, running her thoughts out of her head, running alongside them as they appear to torment her.

I keep saying, I have never seen anything like it, and there is nothing to compare it to. Nicola’s performance is jaw dropping, heart aching, and astounding. She manages to combine fierce technique, unbelievable fitness, perfect timing and an emotional connection for every single moment of this complicated, magnificently written, cerebral, layered, and moving piece. And there are times when it is blisteringly funny. My Afrikaans is ok, and I got mostly everything, but I hate the idea that there were words, phrases or concepts that I missed because the script is so dense. Nonetheless, what I did get moved me out of myself and I sat next to my theatre date with tears literally falling off my face.

Take it from me; in a world where I see good theatre all the time, Hol is special, better, more original, more satisfying, more meaningful, more sad, more horrific, more everything. Nicola is unbelievable. Fred and Marcel have done an extraordinary job with direction and design. I don’t know why there was not an overfull house at the Arena (come on Arena, your bar is so pathetic, there wasn’t even an ice block to be had) but here are the exact dates of performance. 18, 22, 24, 26, 30 November and 2 December. The only excuse you have not to see this is if you do not understand a word of Afrikaans or if you are in a coma. Don’t even try and talk to me about theatre if you don’t go and see this. It defines how I think about things theatrical from now on.

*This amazing photo is by Nellis Rietmann


I have struggled with the idea of writing this week. It feels so personal; putting my thoughts into words here, and Big Friendly and I have taken the death of the best-loved-cat very hard. Somehow it has meant that I have not wanted to be public about anything. But I miss writing this blog, and I have missed writing ‘for me’ in general.

And I do have some good news. And it has to do with writing. I entered my play The Tent into an exciting ‘competition’ run by Proyecto 24 (degrees – I can’t find that little circle for the symbol) S. It was a Theatre in Translation competition which meant South African plays would be translated into Spanish, Spanish plays would be translated into English and then five finalists (and one winner from them) would be chosen. And The Tent was a finalist. And in such good company too. Here is the official list!



• GREEN MAN FLASHING – Mike van Graan (Winner)

– translated by Patricia Labastié as LUZ VERDE – proofread by Nikki Froneman and Rodrigo Alonso Gómez Gutiérrez

• SISTER PRISCILLA’S DILEMMA: THE NUN WITH A GUN – Julian De Wette – translated by Eduardo Arques as EL DILEMA DE LA HERMANA PRISCILA: LA MONJA CON PISTOLA – proofread by Nikki Froneman, Rodrigo Alonso Gómez Gutiérrez and Elena Stella

• I AM HERE – Peter Hayes – translated by Clara Tilve as ESTOY AQUÍ – Preliminary translation by Fidel Soler Ulloa. – Proofread by Nikki Froneman and Mariana Taguchi.

• THE TENT – Megan Furniss – translated by Mariana Taguchi as LA CARPA – proofread by Nikki Froneman and Odette Fernández López

• LOT – Nicola Hanekom – translated from Afrikaans into English by Ilze Brüggemann as FATE. Proofread by Cliff Smuts – translated from English to Spanish by Rodrigo Alonso Gómez Gutiérrez as DESTINO – proofread by Nikki Froneman and Mariana Taguchi

I think this is very, very sexy. It’s also worth remembering that award winning Nicola Hanekom starred in the production of The Tent at Artscape in 2009.

We are going to try and raise enough funds to go to Buenos Aires in November to witness the play readings of our plays. All great ideas are welcome.

Finally; The Tent. Up and Open

Yay. From today there will be other things in my life. We opened last night and I was really happy. I like this play. I love my designer Alfred Rietmann and his set and lights, and Pitchie Rommelaere’s  phenomenal sound. I adore my stage manager Lucas Macuphe. But, most importantly I am completely in love with my extraordinary, talented, diverse, committed and gorgeous cast. Indulge me. I am going to list them and extol their virtues.

Sizwe Msutu. Accomplished, magnetic, powerful. Brilliant story teller and character actor. A rock and a pivot. A star.

Nicola Hanekom. I am in awe of this, one of South Africa’s most shit hot actresses. She is unbelievable. Most talented, beautiful, committed, emotional, connected and creative. She takes the character Ruth to another place.

Pierre Malherbe. So, so good, A director’s actor. Questioning, involved and super skilled. This guy makes the play.

Nelson Chileshe Musonda. Gorgeous. Talented. Delightful. Hilarious. nobody else could be Samson.

Leon Clingman. Creative, serious, intelligent, hardworking. He turned the character of Charlie into a person.

Albert Pretorius. I love watching this guy. Mark my words. He is going places. Brilliant. Catch him in the incredible …miskien at The Intimate later this month.

Deborah Vieyra. She stepped in at short notice and made my life so easy. A delightful, charming, gorgeous actress.

Lungelo Sitimela. Hilarious, hard working, intuitive. An old fashioned, proper, real actor.

A cast from the theatre gods. Thank you for making my dream come true.


Every day for the last while I have been choosing one word for my Facebook status. Sometimes they are silly or funny; sometimes they are serious, personal or meaningful. Today’s word was grace. I love that word. It has such a good attitude about it. And it is also a poetry word. So much so, it inspired my friend Phillippa Yaa De Villiers who left her whole, magnificent poem, Grace, as a comment.

It was an inspired choice of word for me too today because it epitomised how I am feeling about my work on The Tent. Loving it. I am filled with the grace of my cast, and the really beautiful work they are doing. They move from moment to moment like dancers, playing with nuance and meaning, emotion and technique, and I am learning from them and delighting in them. It’s a cast of eight, so I don’t want to go into detail about each one’s magnificence here. Instead I am going to list their names so you know who I am talking about. Sizwe Msuthu. Nicola Hanekom. Pierre Malherbe. Nelson Chileshe Musonda. Albert Pretorius. Leon Clingman. Deborah Vieyra. Lungelo Sitimela.

I am also graced with a brilliant technical team, stage manager, asm, crew. And the designer Alfred Rietmann, who, when he is not in his office, is scratching in the skip for builder’s junk to use for our set. He is from that old school of thought. Theatre runs in that man’s blood. He loves it. His love has no boundaries, work hours, limitations. He is one of those ‘anything is possible’ guys. I am so lucky to have him.

Tomorrow morning is when we do a full, proper run of the play. I am beside myself with everything. I am saying grace.



(I wrote this on Thursday but couldn’t get a ararat-publi-boot-1signal in Oudshoorn.)

Down a rocky path lined with standing lamps with shades in pastel satins, to a dusty patch and hay bales to sit on. The view to the mountains far, far away is interrupted only by ostriches and standing still tumble weeds. I already suspect they are hiding things; lights for later, since it is still very sunset light. As we sit and get comfortable, putting blankets on the bales to stop prickles, the sun really starts to set and the moon has risen. We sit in between, in this zone of magic.

And Ararat begins. A voice over. “In die begin was daar niks.” And then, nothing, just us really listening and watching. And then, far, far away, in time to music from weird speaker stacks and beautiful voice over, there are a pair of upside down legs, with red high heels, sticking out of a trough. and then, a man in a black suit starts walking, from even further away.

Later on a man comes out of a hole in the dust. Later on, a kombi; Noah’s ark comes driving in. later on the mermaid is wooed and loved and raped and killed.

This extraordinary production, Ararat, is directors from Holland and a South African cast, Nicola Hanekom, Gaetan Schmidt, David Johnson and Albert Pretorius, who are all totally fantastic. This show is the reason why I came to the festival. Pure magic.

Then, afterwards, we hung out at the venue, just outside town. A couple took over a farm and turned it into a gallery and art garden and labyrinth (made out of green bottles) to create one of the most strange and beautiful spaces ever. Moooi at Jam Street, should you ever pass this way.

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