I went to see an amazing ‘seed of something’ last night at Theatre In the Disctrict, called Crowsong. It’s the mad manic brainchildseed of Jason Potgieter, Jon Keevy and James MacGregor. They say the piece is in its “first draft” stage, usually not a place for an audience to see work, but knowing this and then watching the piece was like having a magical door open into a crazy place/mind/stage/canvas/screen. In terms of production values and techno stuff I thought it was pretty tight actually! I can’t wait to see where it goes. It’s inspiring, and I had that best feeling of almost jealously wanting to work on some crazy shit like that.
Because it is quite openly a ‘work in progress’ I don’t want to say more about it, other than that it was a delight to be there. If you read this today you still have a chance to see it tonight.
One of the things that these guys did was totally transform the stage space. And all they used was brown paper! I love that. I love it.
I’m going to use the rest of this space to talk about the Theatre in the District.Whenever I go there I am struck by possibility. It fills me with the ‘imagine if I won the Lotto’ fantasy of what I would do there to turn the whole building into a performing arts centre.
There are so many reasons why I completely love that place. I first worked there teaching improv to CAP students, when the building housed CAP (Community Arts Project), and I didn’t have a car. I would walk from Vredehoek down to CAP through town and then through what was District 6. This theatre really is in what used to be District 6. Well, totally on the border of what used to be District 6 and Woodstock. The really gommie end of Woodstock (where the chunky parking cherie tells you that your car does and will get broken into unless she is right there to stop it from happening). Now I live in Woodstock, and I have a car. It takes me less than a minute to get there. It really is the theatre in my back yard.
I always rehearse work in on of the old ‘classrooms’ in the building. I love making work there. It has a sense of history. It has a sense of possibility. It has a sense of independence. Mostly, it gives me a sense of nostalgia. It reminds me of my old days in theatre, where you put together a string of dreams with sticky tape and conviction. You decorated it with second hand christmas tinsel, and took down the moth eaten velvet curtain to wear. Then you hung it up again to go behind. Those are the feelings I get when I go to Theatre In the District.
At night, walking through the bushes, next to the stone wall of the old chapel/now theatre, the magic creeps up on you. By the time you walk through the big door that is only opened when a show is on you are already in that other world.
The bar is my favourite “imagine if” space. Every time I’m there I fantasise about performers coming to the bar after every show in Cape Town, to hang out, moan about the critics, skinner about management, bemoan the lack of audiences. I remember Backstage, in town in the 80s. I remember Bob’s Bar in Kloof st in the early 90s, and Don Pedros. I think about staying there, at the bar, and stumbling up the road, full of theatre dreams.
Actors are really bad business people, and probably always will be. And the truth is, I’m still an actor in my soul, making me one of those extremely useless business people. So, my fantasy for Theatre in the District; a performance centre; with rehearsal and masterclass spaces full and active every day, offices humming with the admin of all things theatrical downstairs, a theatre that never has a dark night, and a home from-home-bar close enough for me to spit at from my stoep, will be a fantasy. But, I love thinking about it, and I do, every time I go to the Theatre in The District.
To contact the theatre for rehearsal space/stage space or info email Brian on email@example.com
This is a picture of a bit of the set from last night’s show. It is exactly that thing of tying two bits of string and a paper bag and building endless possibility.