Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Month: September 2007 (Page 1 of 3)

The Theatre Club! Hey? Hey?

Graham Weir was invited to speak at the Theatre Club at their Sunday lunch and he asked me to accompany him. What a strange, wonderful, weird, interesting time. We went off to the Tafelberg, what used to be known as The German Club, for the event. I have been there before, once for some jazz (not my favourite) and once for a Balkanology party. Sunday lunch was definitely the strangest. The place is weird enough, with a bar where people still smoke inside and funny separate rooms, one with a huge screen TV for sport stuff.

Mostly old, mostly white theatre lovers (about 30 in all) gathered for lunch, wine and a speech. I loved it. I sat at a table with the hugely entertaining, warm, hilarious and totally unstoppable Molly Seftel. Then there was Sue Williamson(?forgive if wrong), a patron of Cape Town theatre and amazing woman, who told me the most fascinating things, from her whippets to Chris Pretorius’ productions at the Glass theatre, to her late husband being the donor of the seagull used at the Little theatre for productions of The Seagull, to Siberia, to Marthinus’s production of Die Storm. Amazing. Eye opening.

Graham entertained after the buffet lunch and before the ice-cream and fruit kebabs. I tolde them about TheatreSports. John Caviggia, the host/organiser/main cheese was fantastic. He ran around organising and singing praises and being glamorous and delightful. We also got into a heated discussion going about The Merchant of Venice, which will be next year’s Maynardville production. It was a delight. I loved it. Thanks John. And thanks for the gift of whiskey tumblers with the Theatre Club logo.

Interesting and so scary

Here’s a link to an article that I read. It’s about America and it explains brilliantly what I have been feeling so panicked about. Get to the ten steps for real cold shivers. Hectic

The Living NOT

I wanted to love The Living, the second play in Artscape’s 3rd Writings Season. Beethoven in Raptus was the first and A Circus Side Show is the third. Fatima Dike directs Themba Tsotsi’s script. The cast are Wandilisele Makana, Lungi Phinda and Mhimi Mabona.

The play takes place in a house in Gugulethu and it tells the story of a schoolboy searching for answers to his past. He needs to get his history from his older skollie brother and his auntie, who he has gone to live with after the death of his mother. What he unravels becomes overwhelmingly burdensome.

I think the concept and story are really strong. What worries me the most is the editing (or seeming lack thereof) of the script. New writers need to be dragged through a stringent process of editing to make their scripts performable. This script is still at the nursery school phase of development as far as I’m concerned.

So, despite gallant efforts at performance by all three actors, they were unable to lift the unwieldy and inconsistent script from the page. They also had a terribly awkward (and sterile) little set to play on. The hour long play was a little bit agonising and reminded me and G of the endless community theatre plays that end up on the Grahamstown fringe playing to audiences of six. (Big Friendly sat this one out. His very valid excuse was that he fell off a ladder and he is sore all over, making it hard for him to sit still for long. How clever is that?)

Now the whole thing about The Living is very complicated. And ultimately, I am sort of disappointed that Artscape has got it a bit (or even very) wrong. Obviously Artscape has an overwhelming responsibility to put on work by pdw (previously disadvantaged writers). Especially at Artscape, with its uncomfortable history and associations, there needs to be a huge effort to cultivate and support and grow new young black writers. But then they need to be cultivated and supported and grown a little more vigorously. Unfortunately, it is about more than just creating a space for this kind of work, the work itself needs to be explored and created. The standard of these new works needs to be higher. The quality of production needs to be better. And then people will be more inclined to come and see it.

There were 28 of us at yesterday evening’s show. On a Friday evening. And with all the great intentions in the world, and the slightly syrupy blurb that was put out about the show, it is one that I just can’t recommend. I don’t wash my hands off it though. There is potential there. There is a seed of something. It’s just not living yet.

Bye Bye Old Job

I have been working on a weird, complicated, amazing, impossible to explain voice over job for years now. It has always been a difficult project without clearly defined roles and different people coming and going. It’s never been a money spinner, although I always believed (and still maintain) that it has huge potential. I developed a strange friendship/partnership/hatred for the boss and owner of the teeny company, who was also in my year at school, ironically. Anyway, to cut a drearily long story short, I got emotionally entangled in this project and I also involved different friends and colleagues in it at various stages. Big mistake. Yesterday, after a little set-to with one of the new ‘bosses’ and a big hoo ha with the main old boss, I decided to pull out of the project altogether. It has just become too complicated, fraught and messy, and nowhere near worth all the time, energy and commitment I have given to it.

The weird thing is, I think there was cowardly relief from the big boss when I pulled out. I think it kind of sanctioned him moving on without me (I have been too busy these last few weeks and coming few weeks to focus on the project, although ample warning about my other commitments were given).

The weird thing is; even though I am relieved to be out of the mess I am still completely hurt by it. I hope it’s not an ego thing, because that would just be silly. But I am hurt. Weird.

A Circus Side Show gets going

I swear, I love my life. Week 3 of rehearsals has just started (we decided to rehearse the whole of National Braai day yesterday) and things are slowly falling into place.

Musicals are weird. There is the story, the characters, the scenes AND there’s the music and the singing. We haven’t had the musicians yet, they enter the mix sometime this week, but it’s amazing how a cast of just six can swell and become a whole circus of people.

It’s even weirder directing something you have written yourself. Hearing the words over and over makes you listen to them with a different and sometimes more critical ear. At least you get to make changes as you go along.

I am totally in love with my cast. Adrian Galley as the ring master is superb. When we (Graham Weir and I) were writing, I could hear the ring master’s voice, and Adrian has completely found it. Bulelwa Cosa is Mrs D, the fat lady. She is one of my favourite people to work with. She was in Noah, The Cantata and she has the most amazing voice. The Wiers, Graham and Christine are like gifts. Christine is the tattooed lady and Graham is Franco, the white faced clown. Then, there is the gorgeous Richard Lothian who plays Marek the acrobat. He is a gymnast and juggler and a fire dancer and a tumbler and he is just fabulous. And finally there is Rory Avenstrup. She is such a talented actress, whose roles have always been severely limited by her size, being a dwarf. She is amazing and I believe her performance is going to blow people away.

We are also blessed with the cutest and most efficient  production team, Jerome and Lucas, and designer Dicky Longhurst whose drawings are amazing.

Listen to me. I sound like a preacher. But really, what a great job I’ve got right now. Yee ha!

Not much good about Good Evening

I should have known. All the reviews have been ‘pleasing’, kind and refer to ‘chuckles not belly laughs’. I am sure it is hard for the critics to be completely honest about four great actors and a good director. But honestly. What a complete waste of time and money.

I have been excited about going to see Good Evening at Theatre on the Bay and I had to make a special effort to get there, finally managing to shlep Big Friendly to this afternoon’s final matinée.  Hoo boy am I sorry. And is he! We did our usual interval escape. I couldn’t face a second half of more of the same.

Good Evening by Roy Smiles, directed by Alan Swerdlow and performed by the talented foursome of David Clatworthy, Malcolm Terrey, Russel Savadier and Graham Hopkins is exactly the kind of show that makes theatre goers think twice about ever going to see a show again. It is relentlessly, unadulteratedly dreary, and not the finest actors, most creative director or pretty lighting can redeem what is essentially a history lesson with all jokes and humour removed. The poor old matinée tannie next to me (with the loudest wrapped sweets in her bag) tried so hard to love the show she forced a laugh and clap twice.

Good Evening is based on the backstage relationships of Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett who were Beyond The Fringe, a review show that turned British comedy on its head. Now, I used to listen to Cook and Moore on stolen cassettes (I think most of their filthy material was probably banned in SA) and they were the funniest thing I had ever heard. “The worst job I ever had was taking lobsters out of Jane Mansfield’s bum” is still one of the funniest things I can remember. Well, there is absolutely none of that in this Good Evening.

I don’t get why Peter Toerien put this on. This is theatre of the deadest kind. Truly, frighteningly boring. We didn’t have a very Good Evening.

Lucky me though. I’m off to the final show of Shez Sharon which is warm, funny and totally engaging. Well done, us!

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