Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: The Little Theatre

Tackle Tales on Saturday

There are the usual great reasons why you should come along to an episode or three of Tackle Tales, our 12 hour improvised soap opera that’s happening this Saturday from 10am to 10pm. They are; it’s for a great cause and all the ticket money will be going to Rape Crisis, it’s a great way to celebrate our 20th birthday, and we are Cape Town’s longest running live performance improv group with oodles of skill and talent and magic. Those are the usual ones.

Here are reasons why you shouldn’t be able to resist! There are 8 episodes to choose from. You can sneak in at least one, even if you have the busiest day planned. Here are the starting times for each episode. 10am, 1130am, 1pm, 230pm, 4pm, 530pm, 7pm, 830pm. It’s pretty insane. Tickets cost a ridiculous R60 per episode. I repeat. R60 per episode. That’s like, um, nothing actually. Then there are the talents of pretty much our entire company, who will be on stage pretty much all of the time. That is huge I tell you. Huge. Then there is the soap thing. The intrigue. The characters. The dressing up (or down). I have been talking like my character for days. Funny thing is, it is improv and who knows what will happen on the day? Plus, as far as I know, this will be breaking a record in SA. Nobody has done anything like it ever before. Yay.

This soap-a-thon is like a combination of all my childish fantasy desires rolled into one. And you can see it. All of it or just some of it. Please come and support us. I pretty much guarantee that it will be mostly amazing, in one way or another.

A reminder of the details. This Saturday 27 October. 10am to 10pm. The Little Theatre. There will be food and drink available at the venue. What’s not to love?

The Soap-A-Thon

Wow! We have just had a full day of practicing for our Soap-A-Thon; our 12hr improvised marathon that takes place next Saturday 27 October at The Little Theatre, and I must confess that I am wired to the gills.

Ozzie improv master Mark Gambino put us through our paces and gave us valuable tips on creating scenes, developing characters and relationships, and building story lines, as well as following stuff up and through. It’s all very exciting and outrageous. I must admit I had no idea it could be as diverse, funny, completely creative and full of such range. Each character is different and special, and if you just let things emerge the most weird and wonderful things start to surface.

Aside from the fact that we are performing to raise money for such a good cause, Rape Crisis, it is going to be totally hilarious, addictive and absorbing entertainment. My feeling is that you need to come to a morning episode, and get hooked! Plan your day to include a few episodes, or clear the day (and evening) to come to all! I cannot wait.

PS. My character, an ex-steroidal body builder, shit stirrer and scam artist, is now a bar owner, bar tender and bouncer at her Escape Point bar, The Walrus and Oyster. Her name, selected from offers on facebook and twitter, is Brick (Bernadese) van Niekerk. Come and check her, and all the others out. It is going to be wild!

TheatreSports Cape Town – coming of age

If you had asked me 18 years ago if I’d still be doing this I would have laughed. It didn’t seem possible that my love affair with improv would turn into my longest passionate relationship. When I decided (because of all sorts of complicated, horrible and personal stuff) to move to Cape Town and start my own improv group that would perform TheatreSports, at the end of 1993, I had no idea that it would succeed, or even last. Now look.

I love improv and I love playing. I love it. So, it will come as no surprise to you then that I am beyond delighted that it is our 18th birthday celebration and we are having a halloween show on Saturday night 29 October at The Little Theatre (just next to The Intimate where we perform every Monday). It’s at 8pm. Tickets are frighteningly cheap. R50 (R40 for those who dress up). I would so love to see you there; old friends, new friends and potential ones. Please call Ryan 0729393351 to book.

Cutie Cosi

It looks like I am starting to get able to go and see theatre without breaking into hives. This is a good sign, people! I went with friends to The Little Theatre last night to watch The Mechanicals‘ (the only rep company in Cape Town) offering of Cosi. I didn’t read the programme very well, and I also forgot to bring one home so there might be horrible gaps in what I am about to write.

Cosi the play is the same story as Cosi the movie, where a young graduate gets his first job directing a ‘play’ as therapy for the inmates of a lunatic asylum. I adored the movie; a real feel good, silly, quirky Australian offering with both Rachel Griffiths and Toni Collette in it.

This version is also very cute and totally watchable, and funny and moving at times too. The action takes place in a dusty old theatre, and the story follows the rehearsal process of the totally unrealistic choice of the opera Cosi Van Tutte that one of the inmates is obsessed with. All the while we, the audience, find out more about the motley crew of inmates, and we watch the shift and growth of the young director Lewis, played rather sweetly by Andrew Laubscher. Scott Sparrow directs. I love watching Scott on stage and I missed him out front, but he did a bold, good job of directing this massive cast and all the traffic of this thing.

It is a huge cast, and therein lies its success and downfall. Guy de Lancey is brilliant. Deborah Vieyra, Emily Child, Tinarie van Wyk Loots and Kate Liquorish are fabulous. Everyone else varies from okay to hideous. The really good moments outshine the bad ones, but the bad ones make the production uneven and long. The thing that I love the most about the play though is how totally accessible it is. Yes, accents move in and out, styles clash and smash, pace is up and down, but this is the kind of play non-theatre goers would really love. The story is easy to follow, the characters are fun and quirky, and the dialogue moves mostly at a good pace. There are some really funny and delightfully rude moments too. So, on a Saturday night it should have been full. And there were about forty of us. Damn. I am coming out in hives again. This theatre business sucks!

Spring Awakening

It was weird for me last night, going to the opening of UCT’s production of Spring Awakening. I was in Chris Weare’s production in 1984! And although I couldn’t even remember my character’s name, I have such clear memories of the little green and pink and white checked dress I wore, and the white bobby socks and little black shoes. Freaky. Seeing the programme up on the pin board was scary too. There were people in that cast that I don’t remember at all, but pictures of Patrick Lilley, Claire Berlein, Ingrid Emslie and Michelle Constant took me straight back 26 years ago, to that time.

Watching the play from this perspective made me understand how difficult a production it is to mount. Spring Awakening, written by Frank Wedekind, is set in Germany at the end of the 19th century, predating what would happen there by fifty or so years, but creating the platform for it in terms of repression, shame, education, parental control and unrealistic expectation. These are huge issues. Because of the sexual and, for the time, explicit nature of the content and scenes, the play was often banned. These days we are all too used to seeing young men masturbating on stage, boy on boy kissing, and nudity and sex have become terribly explicit. So, the real issue of the play, the bursting of puberty and the shame it brings in a repressive society, are a fantasy idea for most of this young cast. Especially in a country with unbelievably high teenage pregnancy and horrific and brutal child abuse stats, child prostitutes, peer sexual violence among children, the sexual innocence of Spring Awakening is very dated and diluted.

One of the other difficulties with this play is, however tempting it is as a drama school production because there are lots of parts for young actors, it is unbelievably difficult for young, inexperienced actors to sustain! I remember Chris Weare’s frustration our time around! The parts are either children, always hideous and difficult to play, parents, who for young actors are not the best fun, or teachers, who at least can be sent up in this play, but are not well developed people and have to remain within their names of Professors Breakneck, Tongue Twister, Total Loss and Strychnine.

Then there is the script itself, which is scenic and cinematic, jumping from one scene to the next, and from location to location. Unfortunately, over the years, we are less able as an audience to manage such long scenes, and for the most part they are very long.

Those are the problems up front. Now to this production. This production is in The Little Theatre. The wooden beamed stage is very, very raked and there is a huge raised walkway through the audience, bringing performers on stage from the back of the auditorium. There is an amazing, repetitive, motion cloud projection on the cyclorama at the back. Gideon Lombard sits in mostly silhouette  in the top right hand corner with a guitar and amp. And that sets the scene. The set, designed by Daniel Galloway and Chris Weare is beautiful. Almost as completely beautiful as Daniel’s lighting, which is breathtaking. Leigh Bishop’s costumes are fabulous; an incredible combination of period and theatrical.

The students, for the most part, have really good moments. Rudi Swart, who plays Melchior, was my favourite. He gave a really tempered, interesting and natural performance, and elicited true sympathy from me. Next was Lethabo-Thabo Royds, who had the difficult task of playing Melchior’s mother. She really grew on me. In her first scene I felt like she was fighting with her dress a little bit, but, after that, I found her still, sincere performance the most moving of all. James MacGregor (who I adored as Romeo) was less successful for me as Moritz Stiefel. There is no doubt that it is a hellishly difficult part, but it was just too childish caricature for me. The young girls all had their moments, but I was left with the overall impression that they didn’t ‘get it’, in terms of the overwhelming unnamable stuff they were feeling, and why it was so big, confusing and bad.

So, in a nutshell, this production is a breathtakingly beautiful study of the past. But it is not exciting, moving or challenging. The horror that we sit with, as an audience today, is, is there anything that can shock us, ever again?

The Birthday Party

On my way to The Little Theatre last night, for The Mechanicals opening of Harold Pinter‘s The Birthday Party, I flashed back to a most amazing memory. I remember it being a Saturday night; I was still at high school, and SABC 1, 2 and 3 were called something else (anyone remember what?), when Yvonne Banning, the continuity announcer, introduced one of her favourite plays and playwrights, Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party. I remember being absolutely blown away. It was my first introduction to the play and his work and it was like watching a completely absurd horror movie that I hardly understood but loved.

That set up quite an expectation for me last night, which is a bit unfair since I am twenty five years older and have been through all the Pinter pieces that we did for our end of year auditions at drama school. Still, there was that feeling. And Chris Weare directing! (who probably taught me all I know about Pinter anyway).

The minute I saw the set I got it. That Pinter feeling. And certainly, when it started, with the wordless (and super talented and versatile) Scott Sparrow in the light, I shivered. Unfortunately, that menace, tension and confusion was quickly dissipated and never really came back. Oh the cast were good(ish), but they never really cracked it, and as I left the theatre I was trying to work out why.

So here are some of my thoughts. I think with Pinter you need a very long and focused rehearsal process and I think it’s possible the piece was under rehearsed. This means that the moments, the famous Pinter pauses, the bleakness and most importantly the savage menace were lost. I love the idea of a repertory company, and I’m even very jealous that I’m not part of one. I love the idea of the different seasons of work that a rep company can put on, but I do think that with a Pinter you need to give the piece proper, long rehearsal time. In a rep company actors are forgiven for being a bit too young, or not exactly 100% natural choices for the part, but then they have to work doubly hard to get it right.

Here, accents were dodgy, characters didn’t sit and stay, and the whole piece didn’t behave itself. Except for Nicholas Pauling, who stood out for me as absolutely brilliant. He is Pinter weird, darkly powerful and really, really good.

I think this piece will get better later in the run. But I would like to see it with about a month’s more detailed rehearsal time.

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