Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: me on stage (Page 1 of 54)

Hooray May Improv and Live Performance

This May will be a huge milestone for me. I return to the stage in a tiny improv festival after over a year of no live improv, and I perform a strange and wonderful creation called Murmurations in front of a live audience. I am nervous, excited and a little bit overwhelmed. What I have taken for granted for most of my life is now a gift that is special and precious.

Our ImproGuise mini improv festival takes place from 6-8 May at The Galloway Theatre at the Waterfront Theatre School. Here is what you can expect on each night.

6 May – Game on! – Based on ou hugely popular short form, Theatresports, this is a super charged and fun improv show with an emcee, judges from the audience and 2 teams, competing in a series of short and outrageous improv games based on suggestions from the audience. Yes, this is the one you always ask for.
7 May – Superscene – This fast paced, highly competitive format is also a firm favourite with ImproGuise fans. Here 6 improvising directors compete against each other with scenes and pitches to the audience for the huge honour of last one standing to perform the final Superscene.
8 May – Fake Place – This delightful longform format sees us highly skilled improvisers exploring a fictional place and playing all the loveable and eccentric characters in it. Heart-warming and gut- wrenchingly funny.

What’s not to love? What we are going to need though, is you. Our faithful, the promisers, the followers from a distance, the wannabes, the improv lovers, the we-haven’t-been-in-a-while-ers, the students, the moms, dads and kids, the whose-line-is-it-anyway fans. We need an audience. A socially distanced, fully masked, totally protocolled audience. Please book. Book here. https://tickets.tixsa.co.za/event/improv-festival and come celebrate with us.

Then, later on in the month we have one night of improv at one of our favourite venues, The Drama Factory in Somerset West. Same deal. Best improv in a totally fabulous venue. So many options to see us. Come. Laugh. Enjoy the crazy, in the moment creativity.

I will write a separate and fabulous post about Murmurations with Louise Westerhout at Theatre Arts later.

The Proper Death of SA Theatre

Last February, before we knew what was going to happen with COVID, I had a conversation with a theatre owner and friend about how I felt like my heart had twice been broken; one by my personal circumstances and one by theatre. I felt like I had suffered a theatre breakup and it had been devastating, messy, and deeply painful. I struggled to articulate it at the time, but what the breakup was about was me losing faith in my ability to carry on regardless. You need a seriously thick skin to do theatre. And my skin had ruptured.

Then COVID came and nailed closed the coffin for all theatre makers. While the restaurant and tourist industries were spoken about and bemoaned, the theatre makers, stage managers, theatres, directors, FOH teams were in their own tiny circle of hell and I couldn’t ever really figure out why theatre got so little attention.

The NAC and the department of Arse and Culture did, and continue to do, what they usually do. Mess up. Theatres that were dark have now closed permanently. The closing of The Fugard was announced earlier this week, with much sadness, and even anger. But who is fighting for theatre, and begging for it, and needing it, and wanting its resurrection?

I think it is only the theatre makers who want it to come back. And here sits the uncomfortable, hideous, miserable truth on a pointy rock that is its own hard place. Unless theatre goers; uninvolved, unconnected, true audiences passionately want, longingly yearn for, and are even prepared to lobby, fight and beg for the return of theatre, it really cannot, and won’t return from the dead.

Alcohol, yes. Cigarettes, yes. Restaurants and bars, yes. Theatre? Naah. Not so much.

Unfortunately, the desperation and totally illogical passion of theatre makers has obscured the most basic and obvious reality. The person in the street couldn’t give two Hamlets and half a farce for theatre.

In a weird way I am pleased my breakup with theatre happened a year ago, and I have been able to lick my wounds in the privacy of my own home. I will make theatre on demand, or not at all, from now on. And only if there is an audience who really wants it.

Double Jewish Pregnancy

December 3 years ago I was standing in the foyer of the Baxter Studio welcoming one of our preview audiences into the theatre for From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach. A definitely Jewish woman and her teenage daughter were giving me ‘the look’. I was trying to think about whether I knew them, or whether they thought they knew me – Jewish geography is a complicated, lifelong story, with memory and family trees tied in with ferribles, cousins by marriage and even cousins of friends of grandparents long gone. As mother and daughter made their way past me the mother whispered, “You are Darren’s mom, aren’t you?” I knew exactly what she was talking about and I immediately said yes. Darren Nudelman is Tali Shapiro’s husband in Tali’s Wedding Diary, the local Showmax hit. I played Janice; Darren’s mother. It was a tiny part, but people responded to the well meaning but totally uncool Jewish mother.

So there I was, the director of a show about a wedding – From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach is the story of a Cape Flats meisie who meets and falls in love with a Joburg Jew-ish boychik, being recognised for a show about an outrageous Jewish princess and her wedding.

Well, beat me over the head with a dreidel if it isn’t happening again. I am lucky to be filming season 2 of Tali at the moment. The much anticipated Tali’s Baby Diary will be on Showmax at the end of March 2021 and I can tell you that it is kak funny; more Tali madness and beyond. Also, Janice has a bigger, and most delicious part in this season.

And then, on 7 December I go into the rehearsal room with Chantal as we prepare to open From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach – with Kids! on the 22 December. Here the impending arrival of a cross cultural kid causes much cross cultural comedy, for the audience who loved the first one, and those who missed it.

I am the most lucky.

 

Back in Action

My sleep patterns are completely out again. The dogs have no idea what I am up to. For three days this week we went for our morning walk at 6am. I have spent the week on set for the sequel to a lovely local series, soon to be on a streaming service near you.

And I feel like I have been brought back to life. Yes, we absolutely have been doing things differently. Yes, we wear masks and sanitise and use mouth spray. Yes the spectre of this dreaded disease hangs over us all. Our food packs are prepared for minimum contamination. Door handles are cleaned. Temperatures are taken. And then we go in front of camera and magic happens.

Not going to lie. Like everyone else, only more (my personal circumstances have been dealt a hideous and painful blow this year), we have all been held in a state of suffering suspended animation.

A couple of small and almost miraculous things have saved me from totally bleak darkness – the making of a fiercely independent movie in the deepest winter, the bits of improv we have managed to do on line, the revival of improv teaching in a course that was suddenly halted in lockdown, the release of The Big Bird Battle, and shooting this series have kept me alive.

Now I will be turning to the beautiful and original work of live performance. From the 2-5 December Louise Westerhout and I will be presenting/facilitating/holding our new ‘show’ Murmurations at Theatre Arts in Observatory. I think we will still only present to 15 people a night. Still, what a time to be allowed to create new ways of theatrical communion.

And then, the following week, I go into rehearsal with the gorgeous and talented Chantal Stanfield, for another sequel – this time From Koe’siestes to Kneidlach with Kids, which opens at The Baxter Studio on 22 December and runs through to January. Of course, COVID restrictions apply, but we are slowly creeping towards some kind of liveness in our theatres again, and I feel like I am coming back to life.

Lost Property – a virtual, live, global connection

I could feel it in my body the whole week and finally, when Jaci de Villiers (friend and director), Zane Gillion (co-actor) and Gys de Villiers (hero and stage directions reader) met on Zoom for a rehearsal of my play Lost Property I freaked out. My technology was horrible (internet woes), I struggled with my glasses and the screen, I couldn’t work out how to sit, or what angle, and I was a proper mess. Our rehearsal dissolved and I was scared and horrified. What would happen on the day, Saturday, when we would do a live reading?

I really had to think hard about what was wrong. Of course, it was more than one thing, but one of the biggest things was that my body and heart were remembering and wanting to be in the physical world of Jersey City, performing live, at a live festival. That’s what was going to happen pre-COVID. The other thing, a big thing, is that the play is one of the most prophetic pieces of writing I have made and it does make me all strange and weird, but that is a story for another day.

Our rehearsal on Friday went really well – I had (temporarily it turned out) sorted out my internet connectivity, had given myself a big fat pep talk and I reminded myself why I wanted to do this work in the first place.

And so on Saturday at 6pm we went live. Yes I froze a couple of times. No, it wasn’t serious. Yes I had all the usual performer fears and nerves. No, they didn’t get in the way of delivering our connection, characters and intentions. And we performed our hearts out, on Zoom, at a virtual, international festival of political work. We had an audience. We had positive feedback. And it was amazing.

Obviously I still want to get to Jersey City to do a proper run. Obviously I would love to do a run in South Africa. But being part of this festival is amazing. A global, network of theatre and art people from all over has been built and brought together by artistic director of the Jersey City Theatre Centre, Olga Livina, and it is amazing. Check out the website. See what’s on offer. Free talks, amazing shows from around the world. Connect, engage, celebrate VOICES from those who struggle to speak, in politically ravaged countries from around the world.

 

Louise Westerhout perfect Partner in Rebellion

I am writing to introduce my dear readers to my new best thing; a friendship and collaboration that had its seeds planted in a mutual admiration circle BL (Before Lockdown), grew and sprouted DL (During Lockdown) and must/will endure beyond into AL (you guessed it). Louise Westerhout is an extraordinary being and we are similar and different in all the right places.

Louise is a yoga instructor, magic maker, divinator and tarot reader, Reiki master, curator, art manifestation maker, mother, rebel, path finder and chameleon comedian. She is also a vegan, human, model, mover, creature.

And we are cooking up a thing. From the 2 -5 December we will be presenting/facilitating/playing an hour long something called Murmurations and the rehearsal/play time/conversations we are having are some of the best things that have ever happened to me. Louise has hauled me out of a heartbreak space, personally and to do with theatre. I swore I would never get back onto a stage performing my own work, and she has delighted a path for me to really want to.

We meet and talk with wide eyes and lots of hands and jumping up and down. We plant ideas, blow them up, forget, reinvent, explore, and mostly take and make joy. A bit like those kooky scientists in Mythbusters who did whack job experiments on things.

Right now we have decided on a different theme for each night. This may change. But if it doesn’t it is going to be pretty wild. There will be stories. And garden furniture. And maybe a pool. And tea. And hula hoops. There might be make up and dress up. There will definitely be dancing. There may be tears. There will be an invitation to get to know the world a bit better in under an hour. Or not.

Right now we are inventors, inverters, exhibitors and deliberators. Our motto is everything is everything. In small and big letters. We challenge, console, ridicool and rejoice. We always ask, “Is this a wank?” but we don’t really know the answer, or even care. We do care about each other though. And ourselves. And those who will come. We are already in love with them.

You can book already for Murmurations here and you should probably. It is going to be another kind of a something.

 

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