Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: The Intimate (Page 2 of 4)

Out of Order – we are.

As part of the London theatre carrot that might be in a place that it shouldn’t be right now I want to see as much local, new, fresh and exciting theatre as I can. With that in mind I popped off to The Intimate last night to see The Space Behind the Couch’s Out of Order. This is a two-hander written and directed by Beren Belknap (and performed by him, and teched by him) and performed by James MacGregor and Gabriel Marchand.

What happened to me last night was directly influenced by the week of pure theatre magic I have experienced in London. What happened to me broke my heart.

Beren, this is not a review of your work. This is a heartfelt response to the horrible way we are forced to make theatre in this country. And to be honest, I don’t even know where to start. When I was in London everyone referred to me as a playwright. This is a title I have never allowed myself to have, even though I have actually written quite a few plays. We all call ourselves theatre makers here. That’s because we always have to do everything. We are not really allowed to specialise, to be one thing. We can’t. Who will direct the plays if we just write them? What will we direct if we are just directors? Why does a brilliant performer like Nicola Hanekom have to write, direct and perform the things she makes? In London nobody has heard the term theatre maker.

Last night I got so angry Beren. I got angry that you have to do everything. I got depressed that you had to be a theatre maker instead of a writer, or a director, or a performer. I got sad when I thought about a process you needed and did not have the luxury of accessing. Imagine if you had had somebody older and experienced to be your mentor. Imagine if you had had the time to develop your script. Imagine if you and your actors had been able to play around for a couple of months, find things, throw things out, explore, develop the work. Imagine what could have happened then.

Things happen in such a rush here, and we are in such a hurry to get things in product form, in front of a tiny audience for such short little runs. We have no time. We have no money. We have no support. We piss on our own batteries here, because there’s nowhere else to piss.

Out of Order is such a brilliant title. We are Out of Order. Our theatre is Out of Order.

So, I want to congratulate you Beren for making theatre under these conditions. You shouldn’t have to. It shouldn’t be this hard, and this thankless.

Here’s what I thought about the piece. In my opinion Out of Order is a brilliant idea, with brilliant things in it and two brilliant performers, but it is not ready. It is not a product yet. It looks like it is, because there are the fab technicals and animations and set, but it isn’t. And for me, what was a potentially coherent, hilarious and outrageous piece of historic fantasy, Goon show style, was marred by one tiny mistake that permeated the piece. This was the dumb Afrikaner. The dumb Afrikaner is a bit of a racist idea, and it needs better treatment, either from a characterisation point of view, or from a language point of view, or from an ideological point of view. I was uncomfortable that the Afrikaans character was just a dumb Afrikaner (whose actual Afrikaans was not good), and that the kommandant spoke to his men in dumb Afrikaans accented English. The English character had so much to him; he was mad, and a coward, and a traitor, and filthy mouthed. He was a character. And he spoke in his mother tongue.

There is so much that is brilliant about the notion of this piece. At a time when the Boer war offerings of Deon Opperman laud Afrikanerdom and sow division, there is huge space for a different look, a fantastical reinterpretation of it all, and one that has the hope of the message of Out of Order. What will help make the message clear is if the Afrikaans character is not simply the dumb Afrikaner, but more. Someone we care about. Someone who deserves more than an accent and silly mispronunciations.

Beren, I think you are amazing, and brave and creative and talented. I think that Out of Order deserves time, and thinking about, and a bit of process. I keep thinking about War Horse, and how its creators spent 18 months developing it. I think about your performers, who would shine so much more brightly, and confidently, with more discovery time; more rehearsal time. And I imagine you, the writer, or director, with only one job at a time, being able to pour everything into that specialist thing. I wish that for you. And for all of us damn theatre makers.

A trip along, over, into and across Mafeking Road

“Let me tell you,” I said, as I stretched my arm out to grab hold of the triple strength coffee that was going to help me write this at six in the am. “Ja, ja, ja, it makes sense. Four of Herman Charles Bosman‘s stories visited, and revisited by a pink couch, two cheeky, chatty, physical, sexy young men, and a director with a brain the size of the koppie the leopard ran to. Can’t go wrong. Ja.”

Mafikeng Road is Matt Lewis and Andrew Laubscher, directed by Tara Louise Notcutt now on at The Intimate. And it’s four Herman Charles Bosman Groot Marico stories like they’ve never been done before. I have wanted to see this show since early days and I have missed it every other time it was on, including in Grahamstown where it won an ovation award and was sold out by the time I got there. So I wasn’t going to miss it this time. I was there like a bear.

And what a flippen amazing, fast, hilarious, delicious, clean, precise, energetic, charming trip it is. Matt and Andrew are genius and they jump, squirm, crouch, limp, run, freeze, switch from accent to accent, body to body, human to animal, comic contort, flash back, subtitle, soundtrack, sound effect and sometimes, just tell, the stories.

Tara has them on a short leash. Not a moment is indulgent. Not a gesture is too big.  Not a joke milked for more laugh. These are two committed and charming performers who are making the magic without any actor bullshit. “And I could of sat there for hours, listening to them go on and on. Ja, ja, ja. Makes sense. Loved that damn scared horse Bertie. Loved that poor love struck policeman, loved the drunken getting drunker altar wine fetcher. Loved the moms and kids at kerk. Loved every finger chase along arms. Think I must of loved the whole thing man.” I reach over but the koffie is klaar.


Another Friggin’ (fabulous) Tribute Show

The mix was noticeable. Old old. A few young and hip. Some dweebs. Establishment (from a theatre point of view). Friends and family. It was the opening of Another Friggin’ Tribute Show on THE SAME night as Coldplay! So the seventy odd people that weren’t at the gig were at Pierre Malherbe’s new one man show, directed by VIncent Meyburgh at The Intimate. I was glad. I’m not into Coldplay (although I like their greatest hit I Will Fix You).

This one man show is a non-musical tribute to music (in general and in particular) and how it moves you. Pierre is quite a bit younger than me but a lot of the influences, and the ‘how’ of listening to music, and taping, and how Pink Floyd altered our musical DNA and how we became music lovers are very similar. It was often like he was speaking my childhood, adolescence and youth into memory.

The show is very funny. Very. It is a unique blend of stand-up, sketch, personal take and musical nostalgia. I love Pierre on stage. He is wacky, cute, crazy, physically gawky, and quite demented, but all in a very engaging way. He develops a vibe with the audience, and, even though he is quite clear at the beginning that he will be doing all of the talking, it does actually feel like one of those ‘remember when’ conversations.

This is the show’s first airing, and I am sure some of the stuff will tighten up as it goes along. My favourite bits were the pre-show sketch, the taping sequence, the anti ‘one particular band’ (I won’t spoil it for you by saying which one) hysteria and the very Cape Town references. Actually, my all time favourite bit was the totally ridiculous comparison with being as upset as if someone had stabbed a labrador in the face. But you had to be there.

Pierre has managed to create a delightful, weird, accessible, friggin’ funny show that is slapped with nostalgia, musical mayhem, and delicious attachments to (musical) people and things. A bit like a South African Nick Hornby, brought to stage in Cape Town. It’s on until the 15th October.

Lovely Lovborg’s Women

Clever Astrid Stark decided to celebrate her birthday with a block booking for the return of The Mechanicals‘ production of Lovborg’s Women at The Intimate last night. What a great idea, I thought.

This incarnation of the play (I saw one years ago with Gaetan Schmidt, Allan Committee, Robyn Scott) also directed by Chris Weare, is up to date, sexy and completely hilarious. Mikkie-Dene LeRoux, Andrew Laubscher, Tinarie van Wyk Loots and Adrian Collins are the four who race us though the different genres and interpretations of Lovberg’s (the fictitious playwright’s) women. It is hilarious, cheeky and delicious.

It’s a bit like watching a brilliantly inspired, well rehearsed TheatreSports show; with all the madness of send up done with amazing commitment, music and costumes. And it is total, great fun. My favourite was the Third World Bunfight send-up. Classic.

This is a re-run, for all of us who missed it the first time around, and it’s a great opportunity to get into a theatre for brilliant performances, and team work, tightly directed and a completely satisfying laugh out loud.

The improv way of life

One of the amazing things about playing TheatreSports in front of a live audience twice a week is that the rules and philosophy of improv become a way of living. Yesterday was a double dose of TheatreSports because we performed at a school in the morning and our regular Monday night at The Intimate.

The thing with performing improv and getting ‘in the flow’ is that it is the most present you can be. You have to live fully and completely in the moment, responding to what happens, unable to anticipate the future or dictate it. It requires trust; of your fellow players, as well as the self confidence to initiate stuff and to wait to see what happens. It relies heavily on the audience and not only their suggestions but also their energy. And when that ‘flow’ thing happens there is such a tangible feeling of magical potential.

Imagine if everyday life felt like that.

My rekindled love affair with TheatreSports

I woke up this morning with a real spring in my step. I had a grin stretching to both my ears and I was completely full of beans. The reason for this is that I played TheatreSports last night after a break of 10 months, and a cannot begin to explain what a total jol it was. It was a regular TheatreSports show at The Kalk Bay Theatre. There was a great and warm audience. And the show was original, very hilarious, and an absolute soul energiser for me.

There is something so refreshing and inspiring about being on stage and making things up in front of an audience. Of course, not everything works, and some things are more successful than others. Some ideas fall flat, some don’t even get a chance to come out of your mouth, and sometimes things go pear-shaped in front of you. But when an idea happens and it gets taken up and transformed, and achieves soaring heights of original, often hilarious results, it is the best feeling in the world. There is nothing quite like the team spirit of a TheatreSports team. There is nothing like the shared enjoyment of a successful moment.

Ah, I have been reminded of my fix. And I am playing again on Monday night, at The Intimate. I can’t wait!

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