Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

The Fugard Theatre fall

Brent Meersman writes an interesting expose on the Fugard Theatre. It offers a good explanation of what happened. I’d just like to add my two cents worth about what I think the problem is. How do we get black and coloured audiences to theatre? There was absolutely nothing at The Fugard or with Mark Dornford-May’s Isango Portabelo company that offered anything to a black or coloured audience. Mark Dornford-May’s complaint about white South Africans not attending his black work is hilarious; they were his only audience, regardless how small. How, when and with what means were black audiences supposed to access this kind of theatre; expensive, far and with totally inaccessible content? Puhleez. It is hard enough getting anyone in Cape Town to the theatre, but to have a ‘we will make it larney, shmooze British celebs at the expense of local support, and then still expect the usual white suspects to fill the seats’ attitude is beyond just a little arrogant and ironic.

I go back to my favourite bug bear. Create a theatre audience, who have a hungry desire for live performance and then create the spaces to house them. Not the other way around. Know your audience. Look at Joe Barber. They made an audience. And now they come; to The Baxter, or anywhere they perform. This is a coloured audience who totally support theatre that they feel has been made for them. What a great lesson to learn.

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3 Comments

  1. Trevor du Buisson

    Magnificently said Megan!

  2. Simon Cooper

    As a theatre lover and a theatre owner, the recent events at the Fugard sadden me – theatre in Cape Town, in South Africa, is under-funded, under-supported and under pressure but more of that later.
    Returning to the Fugard, it is from my experience a fantastic theatre space but as a Capetonian my first feeling about the Fugard when it opened was one of having whatever intelligence I have slightly insulted. The Fugard gives its address as cnr of Harrington and Caledon Streets, District Six, Cape Town. By doing this the theatre seeks to invokes and trade on the emotions that surround the whole District Six calamity. Personally I fear this is illusory for two reasons – [1] not many of the population of South Africa give a damn about District Six any more – certainly not the majority of the governing party and their supporters, certainly not the conservative thinkers in South Africa and certainly not many people outside of South Africa [among the tiny, tiny minority who might have heard of District Six]; and [2] because the location of a theatre allegedly in a politically sensitive area is no reason for people to support the theatre by coming to shows there.
    Mainly however the address thing is worrying because it is dishonest – according to the best definition I can find of District Six it “….was named in 1867 as the Sixth Municipal District of Cape Town. The District Six neighbourhood is bounded by Sir Lowry Road on the north, Tennant Road to the west, De Waal Drive on the south and Cambridge Street to the east.” That places the Fugard very much outside District Six and not even able to talk about being on the periphery of District Six. This approach to emotive dishonesty as a marketing tool has disturbing similarities to the New Space invoking and then betraying memories of the Space and all it meant in its heyday.
    I hope that Stix can get it right – we do not need to lose another theatre !!

  3. Herman Lategan

    @ Simon Cooper: I love what you’re saying. You are the first person to mention this. Also, you are dead right this current govt feels nothing for District Six.

    @ Megan, I did not read the Meersman piece, as I simply can’t read the drivel that appears in the Friday section of the M & G anymore.

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