Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Month: August 2010 (Page 3 of 3)

Hooked and Sitting Man – Two great reasons to be in Kalk Bay

It started with a beautiful drive from hot, sunny town straight into a wall of mist on Boyes Drive to get to Kalk Bay Books. Of course Big Friendly and I overshot the traffic by an hour and we got to Kalk Bay early enough to have cappuccinos in The Annex, a gorgeous restaurant behind Kalk Bay Books. Melinda Ferguson was also already there. It was the launch of her second book, Hooked, that we were attending. Melinda is one of my oldest and dearest friends so there was much love to go around. I am deeply proud of her and how she has actively and consciously made her life beautiful and meaningful. The bookshop was packed to the rafters and Melinda spoke straight from the hip and heart. She was entertaining, frank, outrageous in the most charming way, and she was patient with the many recovering and not so recovering addicts who had a million questions.

Armed with my very own, signed copy of Hooked, we marched down the road to what felt like home! The Kalk Bay Theatre. Man, I love that place. Honestly, I stomped up those stairs into the warm, loving embrace of some of my favourite people in my favourite spot. Now, I absolutely have been a bit theatre-phobic the last while, but I was amped for this show The Sitting Man, written, directed and performed by James Cairns. I saw and loved James in Brother Number, at the Kalk Bay Theatre a coupla years ago.

The Sitting Man is a fantastic one man show. With only a chair on stage to fill the brief of the title, James, by performing a series of characters who are linked by action, slides into a world of South Africans that are immediately identifiable, hilarious and tragic. He is so good at them it almost feels like he is channeling this weird bunch. His accents are spot on. His hands! They change subtly with every character. His face! Now, James has a distinct face, plus his head is totally clean shaven, but every character looked different. He is so adept at playing these human creations of his that he fills them with a rich emotional context, even though we spend so little time with each of them. The story, about a parcel that needs to get taken from Jo’burg to Cape Town, is a teeny bit convoluted, and there is a big, fat loose end that prompted Big Friendly to exclaim “It can’t be over! What happened? What was inside the parcel?” But it is a wonderful vehicle for stringing together these fringe, loser, weirdo men. My favourites were first, the drunk pool player, whose perfect Sotho accent was classic, second, the daggahead, a reminder of more than one smoker from my youth, and then, the poor farmer. James is brilliant, and I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I was sad when it was done! The Sitting Man has a three week run before James switches over to his other one man show Dirt. Do. Not. Miss. This.

Sunday brain hangover

Last night the true reason I came to the Limmud conference revealed itself. And, like with everything else with me, it happened in the most unusual, left-of-field, charming way.

After a formal session, my last of the evening, which was pretty much a list of Jews in South African theatre, I had a two hour chat with a man who had done my improvisation workshop. And I found out all about his extraordinary life, and he asked me questions about mine. It was a brilliant, liberating, enlightening chat in which we revealed ourselves in a completely relaxed, unthreatening and interested way. Thank you Vivian.

I came back to the room I have been sharing and the children who had kept me up with their shrieking, banging, laughing and shouting the night before were at it again. I was at the point of being totally enraged and doing the mad woman fish wife, hysterical banshee thing, but something made me change my mind, and I knocked on the door and offered the first teenager I saw an ultimatum. I told them that they had to make a choice; either to shoosh and let us sleep, or I was coming in to find out what all the hooha was about. They invited me in and I spent the next delightful, entertaining, informative and amazing hour being charmed by the Herzlia grade elevens! What a turn around for me. I have been particularly harsh in my criticism of Herzlia kids, even here at the conference, but this dozen hotel room of kids were amazing. It was an hour of genuine engagement that not only shifted my atitude, but also reminded me how I love young people and how they think, and how they do things. If this is the only amazing thing for me to come away with (and it absolutely isn’t) then my time here, at Limmud has been totally well spent and a real learning curve for me.

There is nothing I can do about the fact that there is no real coffee though. And I’ve only had 4 hours sleep. And there is a whole day’s worth of session I still need to try and get to. I have already completely missed the first one.

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