It’s 03:36 AM. I am so up it’s not even funny. Just to create the picture; I’m sitting here in Big Friendly’s stripy gown and I’ve been battling with my laptop for about half an hour. The dogs are snoring on their cushions beside me. Why am I up? I don’t know. Tension? Much on my mind? I was having some pretty good ideas though as I lay in the dark trying to force sleep. I’m going to put them down here so as not to forget. Or at least to recheck and chuck out at a later stage.
My first idea has to do with A Circus Side Show, the new and brilliant show I’ve written with Graham Weir that is going to be staged at Artscape in October as part of their new writings programme. I am going to direct. Challenging, terrifying and totally exciting. So, this witching hour I’ve been thinking about smells. Circus smells. I want the audience to smell popcorn. And sawdust, and elephant dung, and candy floss, and grease paint, and cigarettes, and stale alcohol, and parafin.
My second idea is to do with Grahamstown and how to market and punt our shows. All actors are forced into ‘doing’ the booking tent on the Village Green, a daily stint in the tent convincing people tobook for your shows. It’s a scramble for attention and poster space. I have seen actors literally on their knees after getting print outs of their daily bookings. It’s not for the faint-hearted. And if you think it’s scary and painful for the performers themselves, spare a thought for the perfectly ordinary Tannie and Oom, who’ve come to the festival for a day or two, who want to plan what they see very carefully, who don’t know a Mike Van Graan from a Shirley Kirchmann and are terrified about anything ‘weird’ or ‘arty’ or ‘contraversial’ or ‘dirty’. There’s me hakking them not to miss Shez Sharon, it’s brilliant, Peter Hayes going on about an outrageous banana, Gaetan Shmidt describing The Dog’s Bollocks. Shame. I bet they decide to go craft shopping for braai gadgets in the craft tents.
So, here’s my idea. Do you think it will work? I man a small table and a couple of chairs. I have a sign that reads Totally
Unbiased booking advice. Anyone can come and sit and get a piece of my mind about what they should and shouldn’t see. It’ll be a bit like Megan’s Head only LIVE. Obviously I’ll punt my own shows. And things that I know or think are great and should not be missed. Obviously I’ll be bribable and open to selling shows I know nothing about (although I haven’t worked out what would turn me yet). I’ll be there every day for a few hours. You need to know? Get into the loop? Want to be dished the dirt? Come and get it from Megan’s Head.
Idea number two is in defiance of the high art crit. Songs of Hangings and Redemption is playing atthe festival as part of a Cape Town collective called The Cape Town Edge. Seven select shows will be playing daily at our dedicated venue The Princess Alice Hall. So, we’re going to set up a tent for our audience members to hang out and chill (I hope not actually chill!) and I was thinking about having a crit wall. Anyone can write a review or comment on any show they have seen and stick it to the tent wall. People can come and read them at any time and get an idea of what’s out there and what the ordinary people think. At the end of the festival I’ll take them down and put them together and you can see them here. Or on facebook or something. Whaddaya think hey?