Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: The Tent (Page 1 of 5)

Living London Theatre

I have no idea how to explain my week here in words. Every day from early to late has been so full of inspiration, learning, excitement, belonging, strangeness, support, encouragement, passion, laughing, and achievement. I have seen brilliant theatre (War Horse, Comedy of Errors, One Man, Two Guvnors) and worked with extraordinary people. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith directed the 10 minute extract of The Tent, with the amazing cast of Doraly Rosa, Olayinka Giwa, Richard Cordery, David Webber, Tracy-Ann Oberman and Chris Brandon.

The National Theatre Studio family of Mark, Sarah, Matthew, Rebecca, Sophie, John and Racheli made sure that nothing was impossible and showered us with love and attention. Clare (who works at The National Theatre but was deeply involved in the project) was heroic. Lucas, whose dream this whole project was, was unbelievable; proud, happy, emotional. So was Carol, from the Arterial Network.

We six writers were treated like stars. It was unbelievable. I believe that this is only the beginning of the project. Our plays are all going to live beyond this moment. I am very excited. I am turning my head (a little reluctantly) to home, and trying to think how to become as good there.

Putting The Tent up at The National Theatre Studio

Warning; this post includes trumpet blowing of the worst personal kind. I am finding it hard not to glow and radiate with excitement about my upcoming trip to The National Theatre Studio in London for a week of workshopping (and other amazing theatre stuff). This week I received an email describing the plan and our agenda. On Monday and Tuesday there will be introductions and we will get to see plays (awesome). From Wednesday to Friday we will work with our designated directors and actors on rehearsing and then performing a ten minute extract from each of the six plays. These extracts will be performed to an invited audience of theatre people; producers, directors, management. I can hardly believe it.

Then I received an email from the director who will be working on the extract of The Tent. He is Kobna Holdbrook-Smith. Check him out here on youtube. He seems really inspired by the play. Honestly, I am blown away by this opportunity. Here is a reminder picture from the production we mounted at Artscape in 2009.

The Tent revisited

While I have always quietly held onto the fact that The Tent was a good play, I had to contend with the usual hard knocks of rejection when it came to staging it again, after the initial commitment and funding that Artscape and the New Writing Programme gave it in 2009.

It being chosen as one of the finalists in the Projecto 34 degrees South Theatre in Translation project was fantastic. Last night though, I received an email from The National Theatre Studio in London letting me know that The Tent had been chosen (from hundreds of submissions) as one of the finalists in their call for African plays. I have been invited to London for a week, to spend time with the other playwrights and to attend a dramaturgy (I am better at spelling that than saying it!) workshop. I am so excited, and deeply proud. Oh dear, this is starting to sound like an award speech. Honestly though, I have a lot of people to thank for believing in this play and getting it out there. Mostly, there is Alfred Rietmann. Alfred, thank you.

 

Writing

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!

From SOUTH AFRICA

Finalists:

• 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.

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!

Fleur du Cap, fun, feast, faux pas

I’m supposed to be asleep; it’s a public holiday after all, but the Distell red has woken me I think. And my feet are a bit swollen from those damn shoes.

Last night was the Fleur du Cap awards and this year I was a proper nominee, which basically meant preparing an outfit in advance. Big Friendly chose my shoes, which looked great, gave me the extra height, but were impossible to actually live in.

As usual it was a pretty glam affair, with lots of air kissing on arrival. All the nominees I spoke to beforehand gave away their insecurities by saying how much they hated these kinds of things, but I could see their eyes sparkling.

Off we went for the ceremony and show. This year’s offering was directed by Hennie van Greunen, the director of Die Naaimasjien (winner of best new SA script and Best Actress Sandra Prinsloo), and on the whole I think he did a really nice job; it was quite short with a great opening number. I have to say though, I felt like he didn’t really know his Cape Town audience. I got the feeling that the whole thing had been put together and rehearsed up country and then shipped down for the night. Luckily, most of the presenters of the awards (actors and others) made up for it. My favourites were kept for last; Soli Philander and Helen Zille! They were brilliant, hilarious and totally entertaining. I had no idea she had it in her! (The same can’t be said for old Fiona Coyne, who did not exactly embrace the generous spirit of handing over awards!)

There were two awards that I was absolutely delighted about. Tara Louise Nottcutt’s award for Best New Director, and Angels on Horseback’s award for Best Performance in a Cabaret. And Rob Murray for Best Lighting. Naturally, I was disappointed that none of the ones I was associated with won; especially for Dicky Longhurst and Alfred Rietmann, both nominated in the same category, Best Set Design, for Noah of Cape Town and The Tent.

The big mess of the evening for me was the damn voice over announcing Noah of Cape Town in the category of Best New South African Script. It was a hellova voice over, that went on for ever, pronounced my name wrong (twice!) and then announced Jacqui Singer as the director of the show. What a disgrace! Surely not! Surely every singe piece of material had the right Jaci de Villiers down as the director! Surely. I’m still a bit bitter actually.

Soli and Helen put me back in the mood though. They rocked. Then it was back into the fray to chow and drink. I was very well behaved and didn’t overdo it for once in my life. Big Friendly was so excited by the dessert tables he got stage fright! At a totally respectable 10.30pm we (I) hobbled up those endless stairs, thinking of everything I need to do this year to make sure I get to go to next year’s one!

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