Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Month: March 2010 (Page 1 of 3)

Blog withdrawal, Dubai impressions

It’s been over a week since I posted. The whole time I was away and out of blog range I kept on thinking, “I must write about that,” or “that will make a brilliant post” or, “I am so funny!” Naturally, I have come home from a foreign land and I am absolutely blank. Nothing going on, no memories of my own creative genius.

I was away in Dubai for five days for a corporate show; a fundraiser for diabetes awareness. I worked really hard, the show was a success, and then I came home. I did get to see a bit of Dubai; you can’t help it, it goes past you from your car window, and it looks pretty damn amazing. That tallest building?! the one that looks like a weird sci-fi needle made of metal and glass? It is pretty magnificent. Below it is the Dubai Mall, terrifying and intimidating just for its size, not to mention the shops, labels, giant aquarium, ice rink, and spectacular musical fountains. I have to say though, that for a non-shopper like me it was all a bit daunting. And exhausting.

The people of Dubai are a most interesting mix. 90% of the 3.5 million people resident there are foreigners! 45% of those are Indian. There are people there of every shape, colour and dress, and language. I had no idea if the people I saw were tourists or residents, there for business, or making a living, and a life. Women in burkhas swish past with glittering eye make-up and huge clips holding up their hair underneath, the Muslim equivalent of a bee-hive. Men dressed in white with full headdresses have cellphone hands free earphones disturbing the white. White women in high heels are ogled by men and old ladies in saris shout and laugh.  And there’s a fair amount of bling!

At Karama market, a collection of shops and stalls in a much lower class area (that reminded me of West Street in Durbs, or the Oriental Plaza) rip off perfumes and knock off designer labels are sold, and bargaining is par for the course. 

Food (which I experienced mostly at breakfast at the hotel and the food court at the mall) was Indian and Middle Eastern, with everything else in between; Thai, Chinese, Italian, burgers, sushi, Turkish, you name it. and what I ate was pretty good, and relatively cheap too.

Our hotel was like any other anywhere in the world. except there was no alcohol. Alcohol can be found in Dubai, but it’s a mission, and very, very expensive. And I quite enjoyed being alcohol free, in alcohol free company. Drinks literally means fruit juice. Not all the cast were as happy as I was!

Things I loved: Hand cream, shower gel and public bathroom soap all smell of lemons. Bottled water is very, very cheap. Lots of stuff is actually. The train stations are these beautiful egg shaped domes on the side of the highway. The highway concrete is all white. Flower displays defy the odds in public spaces, with sophisticated underground sprinklers keeping them alive. No stealing! You can leave your bag lying around, your cellphone on a table, your wallet on a table, and it will be there when you come back, even hours later.

Things I didn’t like. Knowing that we could get into trouble for public displays of affection or being gay. The unbelievable amount of smokers everywhere. The idea that an entirely unseen workforce living in camps were just beyond eyesight.

I’d like to go back.

Fleur du Cap, fun, feast, faux pas

I’m supposed to be asleep; it’s a public holiday after all, but the Distell red has woken me I think. And my feet are a bit swollen from those damn shoes.

Last night was the Fleur du Cap awards and this year I was a proper nominee, which basically meant preparing an outfit in advance. Big Friendly chose my shoes, which looked great, gave me the extra height, but were impossible to actually live in.

As usual it was a pretty glam affair, with lots of air kissing on arrival. All the nominees I spoke to beforehand gave away their insecurities by saying how much they hated these kinds of things, but I could see their eyes sparkling.

Off we went for the ceremony and show. This year’s offering was directed by Hennie van Greunen, the director of Die Naaimasjien (winner of best new SA script and Best Actress Sandra Prinsloo), and on the whole I think he did a really nice job; it was quite short with a great opening number. I have to say though, I felt like he didn’t really know his Cape Town audience. I got the feeling that the whole thing had been put together and rehearsed up country and then shipped down for the night. Luckily, most of the presenters of the awards (actors and others) made up for it. My favourites were kept for last; Soli Philander and Helen Zille! They were brilliant, hilarious and totally entertaining. I had no idea she had it in her! (The same can’t be said for old Fiona Coyne, who did not exactly embrace the generous spirit of handing over awards!)

There were two awards that I was absolutely delighted about. Tara Louise Nottcutt’s award for Best New Director, and Angels on Horseback’s award for Best Performance in a Cabaret. And Rob Murray for Best Lighting. Naturally, I was disappointed that none of the ones I was associated with won; especially for Dicky Longhurst and Alfred Rietmann, both nominated in the same category, Best Set Design, for Noah of Cape Town and The Tent.

The big mess of the evening for me was the damn voice over announcing Noah of Cape Town in the category of Best New South African Script. It was a hellova voice over, that went on for ever, pronounced my name wrong (twice!) and then announced Jacqui Singer as the director of the show. What a disgrace! Surely not! Surely every singe piece of material had the right Jaci de Villiers down as the director! Surely. I’m still a bit bitter actually.

Soli and Helen put me back in the mood though. They rocked. Then it was back into the fray to chow and drink. I was very well behaved and didn’t overdo it for once in my life. Big Friendly was so excited by the dessert tables he got stage fright! At a totally respectable 10.30pm we (I) hobbled up those endless stairs, thinking of everything I need to do this year to make sure I get to go to next year’s one!

Inua Essence

‘”The key is my place in the family of things” is a quote from Inua, choreographed and performed by Jori Snell at Out the Box. I cannot explain how this line and concept moved me.

I have seen Jori before, in her other eccentric and wonderful piece Very Short Stories of Creatures and Their Journey Towards a Home but this piece is better, stranger, more cohesive, and most wondrous.

I think the story is about a somebody trying to make their way in a not always friendly world, following their heart and dreams, and having to make sacrifices because they are different. That’s what I got out of it, and I found it deeply moving. Who knows? It actually doesn’t matter. It is possible to go very deep into the layers and meaning of the work, but if you don’t want to, or can’t, it is beautiful and amazing to just watch the lightshow and hear the words and music.

Inua is what visual theatre is about, and can be. Jori, of the most amazing back, has the most amazing ideas, and then executes them in a visual way, with brilliant use of lights, screens, costumes and props. She also has the most amazing aesthetic, so everything is like an expression of art. I completely loved this show. I loved it.

There is one more show on wed 24 at 8pm, but book now; this afternoon was sold out.

PS. Jori also plays a child in this show, but it speaks gibberish, and doesn’t have those sideways arms!

Right Out The Box

I did a triple feature of plays last night, to kick-start the Out The Box festival which began yesterday. So, really what I did was hang out at UCT’s Hiddingh (drama school) campus, which is the perfect place to have this kind of festival. Jaqueline Dommisse has done a fine job of putting this huge baby together, and I have to say that it feels very cohesive, even though two of the main venues are being used for un-festival stuff.

First up was Jonathan Khumbulani Nkala’s The Bicycle Thief, directed by Bo Petersen. Jonathan is a tall, skinny, smiley, affable Zimbabwean chap with a lovely voice. His show The Crossing (also directed by Bo) tells of his harrowing journey to South Africa from Zimbabwe. The Bicycle Thief is a fragment of Zimbabwean village life and growing up, with a strange South African beginning, and an even weirder (and quite abrupt) ending. Jonathan is engaging in a funny, awkward kind of way, Bo has done some brilliant things with costumes and props, making it visually interesting and exciting, but the story itself is unresolved and the whole thing is far too short, at just twenty minutes.

n272810571703_4098 Next up was Man Turn Life Up and Down, a visual theatre piece based on Nigerian popular writing. Sanjin Muftic directs poet/actress Primrose “Everywoman” Mrwebi, singer/actress Nobuhle “I am an Artist” Ketelo and actress Pumeza “Fleur du Cap Nominee” Rashe (I stole these classic definitions from the facebroek page), with animation and art stuff by Jon Keevy (Yawazzi). I was very excited by the idea of this production, and mostly it delivers. Three young, hot black African chicks, in a play about what it’s like to be a black chick; where old and new values collide, get mixed up, confused and are confusing. The styling is amazing and the three of them look fabulous and give great (if a little inconsistent) performances. The show is an exciting confusion of styles, music, naturalism, stylisation, comedy, physical theatre, superb visual animation and graphic drawing. Some of the scenes (like the quizz) are too long, drawn out and directionless, and others could be slightly developed and tightened up. My favourites were the bus story and the blues song. The show is going to G’town, and could do really well there if it is given a bit of a short back and sides. For a first, test run, I thought it was really fresh, original and pretty cool.

sindi After a delicious felafel and a glass of wine I went back to the Playroom to watch Nkosazana, a one-woman piece with Cindy Mkaza and directed by Leila Anderson. Of the three pieces I saw last night, this one is the most resolved, and therefore satisfying. Although I found the beginning and ending a little convoluted and over wrought, I really enjoyed everything else. Cindy is amazing. She is beautiful, funny, sensitive, cute, powerful and riveting. She has a lovely voice and superb physicality. I loved watching her. Leila’s costumes are absolutely phenomenal, magical, provocative and theatrical. Her simple set is beautiful too (although I wished the bed, the focal point of the stage, had been used more). I think this offering shouldn’t be missed.

So, as I left the campus last night I realised that although the three shows I’d seen were all quite different, they were unbelievably similar too. They all dealt with identity, culture, tradition and relationships. In a particularly black, African context. How refreshing. They all had moved past traditional theatre and storytelling (some more successfully than others) and were finding a new performance vocabulary. And they all gave a nod to the past and a glimpse into the future. Now that’s pretty cool.

The only thing I hated in all three productions was the playing of children. Ok, it is a pet hate of mine, but really, please, please, please! No more! I beg! No more cutesy high pitched voices and weird sideways arms.

The Out The Box festival runs this week at The Little Theatre Complex in Gardens and at The Baxter Theatre. It is a feast of visual theatre, films, puppetry, kid’s stuff, lectures and workshops, and all things visual/theatrical. I am delighted to be going to some of the stuff.

Ag Now Okkie’s Gone!

I am so sad! Okkie (Okkert Brits) couldn’t trust anyone and they picked him off; to country music. Those okes in Survivor Santa Carolina have no idea, really. They are so being played by Ashleigh Hayden. I mean Gys and Okkert voted for the guy that didn’t do any graft and just chowed all the food! That’s what was worrying them! How cute! How way ahead of them Ashleigh and her schemes are. Yo, that chick! And the guys are being picked off like flies, and they don’t see who is stirring the pot!

I’m not going to be here next Wednesday, so I’ll miss the next episode of Survivor! Hectic!

Learning while teaching

I have arrived, exhausted but inspired, at the end of two intensive weekends of running the TheatreSports course. It was a very interesting little group, that was challenging and complicated and hilarious. As always, I learn so much, about individuals, group dynamics, the power of improvisation, myself as a teacher and leader, and of course the unexpected learning that laughter brings. This time, however, I learnt the most from a young lady participant who is in matric at school. Normally I don’t let school learners do the course; I insist that they are done with school first, but I made an exception with this person because I have a special connection to her, too complicated to write about here.

In our daily chat and catch up/wrap up as I gave her a lift home she would leave me with little insights, perceptions and gems of thought that stayed with me long after anything else. She is an amazing somebody, who completely managed with a group of people way older than her, and she had a totally generous and positive spirit that coloured everything she did. So, this note is to thank her, for making my teaching a real learning too.

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