Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Month: April 2008 (Page 1 of 2)

do yourself a favour and get to Performer’s Travel Guide

I have just got back from Scott Sparrow’s one man show Performer’s Travel Guide, on at The Intimate Theatre, 37 Orange Street until 10 May.

I know the show has been on in Cape Town before (at my least favourite venue, The Obz Cafe Theatre) but it tonight was the first time I saw it. I am sure there are tons of Slaap Stad slow gats like me who haven’t seen it yet and you must! Quick. You will love it.

Performer’s travel Guide is a one man show, well written and fabulously performed by Scott Sparrow. This incarnation has been directed by the delicious Rob Van Vuuren (who has received quite a bit of my gushing here on megan’s head).  Judging by the reaction of tonight’s audience (which was very small but totally appreciative) everybody falls totally in love with Scott because of the show. In fact there were some drama students who could hardly breathe afterwards and Sybil Sands told me he reminded her of Marcel Marceau and swore he must have trained overseas.

Performer’s Travel Guide tells the story of young performer Ivan in his village of Curtaincall and the journey he must travel to come of age as a stage somebody. But it is the many characters that make this piece rich, hilarious and totally charming. Scott’s physicality and sharp character definitions bring them all to vivid life. My all time favourite was Manuel the Spanish dancer/singer/troubadour/tutu giver. I laughed till I hurt from his song and dance.

There have been quite a few one man physical theatre pieces over the last couple of years. What sets this one apart is the love. The story is full of love. It has a coming of age feel and it is very magical. And there is Scott who charms the the pants off and then back onto his audience. Wow.

So why is the run not sold out already? I think that one of the problems is its title. I think Performer’s Travel Guide is a little esoteric and this could put people off. There are enough in jokes and references (Stanislavsky and Brecht to name two) for the ex drama student but this show would appeal to the broadest audience. I have the feeling that the reference to a performer in the title could put normal people off. Ag, what do I know? Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the shortness of the run. Go see it. "And feel things you have never seen before."

Masterchef goes small

Big Friendly and I are inspired. And obsessed. We watch cooking programmes on DSTV. And then we get excited and we cook. Our main inspiration is Masterchef goes Large, where ordinary Brits compete for the title of Masterchef. Big Friendly made a kind of fish stew a few weeks ago which was creative and delicious. We are preparing sweet potato mash and we regularly go to the fish shop down the road to see what’s fresh. I made proper fried fish on the weekend. Even breakfast eggs can be tarted up with some well-cooked and seasoned mushrooms.

This morning I was just getting up when a beaming Big Friendly bounced into the room to tell me about these fabulous cooking blogs he’d found.

we’re cooking, ek se.

of flights and airports

Here is a copy of a letter I just sent to British Airways.

"After a hard week in Jozi I ran the gauntlet of a jam packed highway in my hired car to the airport and the BA flight that would bring me back home in time for the weekend. Even though the traffic was insane I was well prepared and arrived at the check in deck a full hour and 10 minutes before departure. But. The check in line at British Airways snaked right into no-man’s land and I had to join the absolutely not moving queue. Harassed BA employees dashed among the lines calling out flights and times. I just stood there and time ticked on. Finally, the harassed BA employees called our flight and time and we were jumped forward. I should have known there was trouble when the woman at the counter next to me started shrieking. It was true; the flight was over booked (by about at least 20 people) and we couldn’t be issued boarding passes. We were ushered to the Kulula desk, manned by hysterical BA personnel. There were already twenty people there waiting to get onto the flight. I think the three businessmen and I who huddled together just knew there was no hope of us getting on. We were all put on to the next flight, leaving an hour later. For the inconvenience we were issued a one-way free flight voucher. The ripple effect of this kind of mix-up is rather huge though. The flight left late because stand-by seats were filled at the very last minute. People who were put onto the flight at the last minute couldn’t get their special meals. I had to make at least three phone calls to rearrange my transport home.

At the end of the day (the very end) I was only an hour and a half later than I would have been and it wasn’t a crisis. I think that a free flight voucher is a great gesture. I just wonder how it is possible for a flight to be that overbooked in the first place and also how it is possible to be that early and prepared and still be penalised.

As we waited on the plane before disembarking I chatted to the woman across the aisle from me and we imagined what the airports and airlines were going to do during the Soccer World Cup in 2010. It made us shudder. I’ll be staying at home. I won’t be flying anywhere!"

And now I remember something else. When my flight arrived in Jozi on my way up there, the pilot had to park in Siberia and nowhere near the airport and the magic snaky special pipes that take you from the plane to the airport. And then we had to wait because ACSA didn’t have enough steps and couldn’t find us a set so we could disembark. Charming.

I suppose these problems are minor when compared with the new terminal 5 disaster at Heathrow, but hey, I just can’t help but feel my hackles rise.

Unpredictably amazing Chess

I have been quiet for so long it has taken a bit of an effort to sit down here, in megan’s head again. I am up in Jozi for some work and I went to see Chess last night which is on at Peter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre. I need to say at the outset that I was pulled in two very distinct directions. I am not a great fan of musicals (weird when you consider how many of them I end up making!) and also, Gina Shmukler, who plays the lead Florence Vassy, is my sister-in-law! So I was very excited and also nervous.

It was my first time at Montecasino and at least you don’t have to walk through the casino to get to the theatre; it’s plonked on the side for easier access. I don’t know, but in Jozi the idea of a multi-entertainment centre actually works. And people go.

we sat in the second row from the back but the theatre is small enough for that to be absolutely fine and you can still see the expressions on everybody’s faces. The only problem was that it was a bit of a dead spot for sound, ridiculous in a theatre that size. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my only criticism of the whole shebang.

I am not going to go into a whole explanation of the show’s history and story here, suffice to say that it is about the tension between America and Russia expressed through chess! It is set in around 1973 at the height of the cold war. So, weird subject matter for a strange little musical.

Apparently director and adapter Paul Warwick Griffin sat with writer Tim Rice and they basically cut out most of the book for this production, making it accessible and interesting and very quirky.

I’ll start with raving about Paul Warwick Griffin as a director. He had a brilliant vision and set about creating it. He drew amazing performances from almost everybody, created a brilliant ensemble, pulled together a simple but totally effective set and awesome lighting. Then, Louis Zurnamer did a superb job with the musical direction. It was my first time at hearing a lot of the music but I found it completely accessible and enjoyable.

Cito (from Wonderboom) plays Frederick Trumper and Brennan Holder plays Anatoly Sergievsky and both are excellent in totally different ways. Cito is a raw and dynamic talent, unselfconscious and magnetic and very, very exciting. Brennan is technically magnificent with a crystal voice and sensitive, considered timing. They work so well as counterpoints. James Borthwick is delightful as the head of the Russian delegation and everyone else in the cast is really remarkably good. The only person I felt could have given us a bit more was Johan Baird who plays the head of the American delegation. But it is Gina Shmukler who radiates through this production. she is on stage for most of the show. Her voice is incredible, with a huge range and complexity, but it is her acting that sets her apart. She manages the almost impossible task of making musical acting not only convincing but absolutely moving. I have very seldom seen a performer so connected to her character in the simplest way, where every gesture reads and every note is understood. I was blown away by her. It is a difficult role both in character and plot, yet her journey was …. I have run out of superlatives.

I felt like I had been given an amazing gift after last night’s show. I am still thinking about it today. The good news is that it is coming to Slaap Stad in June, to my not favourite Theatre on The Bay. But I’ll be going again, and I never see shows twice.

Everything that’s in my head.

It’s quite messy and full in there right now. Last night I read this letter by The Boss on his website, endorsing Barak Obama for president using this. “He speaks to the America I’ve envisioned in my music for the past 35 years, a generous nation with a citizenry willing to tackle nuanced and complex problems, a country that’s interested in its collective destiny and in the potential of its gathered spirit.” And that is why I love Springsteen and take his opinion seriously. And I see how an endorsement by a conscientious celebrity would really work. I would take his word for it and vote for Obama. That is powerful stuff. I turn my thoughts back home and remember our own Steve Hofmeyr having chats with our own Jacob Zuma and I can’t say why, but it’s just not the same, hey? Maybe that’s because what the two of them have in common is sex outside of their marriages as opposed to a common political vision, but I don’t even want to go there.

I am still thinking about guns and the havoc they cause, especially since I read this morning about a man who shot a robber through his bedroom door as the guy was trying to bash his way in. The robber was found shot through the collarbone and speedily whipped off to hospital. Then there is the story of the high-jacker who was shot dead and they found his student card on him. Can you imagine? Please understand, I am not sympathising with the baddies here, just showing the random havoc of gun violence. A four year old little boy ran up and down our little street yesterday with one of those nasty, Taiwanese toy guns in his hand and when one of the aunties admonished him and told him that he couldn’t play with her kids and at her house with guns he slipped it expertly into the elastic band of his shorts like a seasoned gangster.

I am also thinking about Zimbabwe. I suppose I can’t help it. I can’t imagine the desperation of those who voted, only to have it mean nothing. I can’t imagine how almost a quarter of Zimbabweans have fled their country and are mainly in SA. I also think Mbeki’s silence is totally bizarre and impossible to explain.

And I am thinking about winter coming. Last night I drove home in the pink and purple sky dusk. This morning it started getting light after seven. The weather bureau predicts the first cold and wet period this weekend and I want Big Friendly to go and get us a pile of wood for the fireplace. I can’t wait to see what the kitties think of a fire. So of course I am thinking about the sulky Eskom. What a bunch of moaning, elsewhere blaming, cowardly, self-serving moegoes. Out of my head Eskom!

Guns are the problem

20011110-guns I caught two minutes of Lisa Chait’s show today on 567 Cape Talk and the bit I got was roughly a caller talking about how it’s OK to shoot somebody who is in your house but how it’s not OK if they’re just on your property. Now I confess, the reception was pretty bad and I didn’t get Lisa’s response, although she did seem to get quite technical with the guy. I can only imagine the topic was a response to our fabulous deputy Safety and Security minister Susan Shabangu’s most idiotic suggestions, as well as a response to the killing of that child criminal in Boksburg who was shot dead after smashing a car window and stealing a cell phone.

And I started day dreaming (it was hot in the car) about a solution. and I came up with a really good one. And it didn’t take brain gym for this one. Here goes. Why don’t we simply ban the manufacture, sales, import and possession of firearms? That is it. That’s all. Nobody is allowed to make guns or sell them or smuggle them in. Anyone found in possession of one is to be immediately arrested, tried and sent to jail. There are no exceptions, no hunting rifles, no antique collectibles, no hobby guns, no guns allowed. Imagine. No illegal gun owners, no gun stealers, no guns at or outside school, no guns on street corners, no guns left in cupboards for children to find, no guns that can be taken away from you at gunpoint, no gunpoint. Let’s take it one step further. There will be no toy guns, no fake guns, no pellet guns, no shot guns. Water pistols have to be see through plastic. Bubble guns and need to be bubble shaped. No gun control (new favourite idiot Hilary Clinton), no excuses, no buts. No guns. You know what will happen? People won’t get shot.

I’m not naive. I know that there will still be crime and it will still be violent. But there will be less crime and less violence if there are no guns. And I mean no guns for anybody. But it’s not going to happen, is it?

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