Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

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The Split

Yesterday, on my way back from an indefinitely shut SARS office I witnessed a line of people, going around the block, to the SASSA building. These people expressed in physical sloping, the unlikeliness of success. I saw a line of desperation. A line of hunger. A line of no future, just a bleak and terrifying present.

And while I was looking at this line I was listening to an economist on the radio talking about how the COVID pandemic was highlighting the importance of life insurance, and how we all need to be frightened into making the right investments. This white, educated, articulate man was talking as if the country was made up of people like him. Only people like him. Life insurance? There was no hint of irony in this man’s perspective. There was no vague nod to the fact that he was talking for and to the 1%. He spoke with the authority of pure blindness to the reality of our country and its suffering majority. And it was terrifying. Because in that moment I saw that hunger trumps decency, that crime is a desperate act, and that life can be not worth having. This is wrong. This is fundamentally, hideously wrong. This conversation should not be had on public radio at the same time that desperate people are queuing for R350 that they have already been told is not there for them.

We have to shift. We have to move. We have to transition. It is far too late. There is no more time. Life insurance? No. We need a new plan for the poor, the desperate, the unseen. And we need those who talk about life insurance to keep quiet for 5 minutes and listen.

Saving Megan’s Head

I have been resistant to this space, my own blog. It was set up and managed by someone I don’t wish to engage with, or remember. I am triggered here. This blog is a historical reminder of a life I lived with someone else; someone I loved that I no longer love.

What do I do? Do I abandon this space, and all its complexity, and leave it to the weevils of internet who will keep it alive but not breathing, for eternity? Do I give it a partial resuscitation and gentle hospital visits, with innocuous recipe updates and frilly opinion pieces? Do I commit and dedicate to making it a garden of thoughts and ideas, or does that need a new, uncontaminated space?

My instinct is to obliterate it, but the idea makes me sad and weak. Then, when I put on my wetsuit of bravado, this blog becomes what it sounds like, a bog with an ‘l’ inside it. I want to be cleaner than it makes me feel. But my own words are my reckoner. Even just thinking about it makes me tired and grumpy.

I am scared to go back to posts that remind me of how innocent I was. I am enraged to think about that version of myself. Unlike photographs that can be torn up, or digitally deleted, this space, this place, this literal legacy remains even if I don’t visit it.

Am I trapped in Megan’s Head?

 

 

The Kindness of Friends and Neighbours

I walked through thick fog yesterday. My heart was sore, and I felt vulnerable and exposed. And then my friends reached out with the kindest comments, calls, messages, voice notes, virtual hugs and expressions of love and support. Thank you. All of you.

Because of the fog, a long and emotional rehearsal, a tension headache and insomnia induced tiredness I did not notice anything when I came home late in the afternoon.

My neighbour Anwar waved from his stoep and I thought he was just saying hello. Then he came over. He had FIXED MY GATE. I had mentioned the no longer closing, rotting wooden gate to him on Monday and asked him to keep an eye out on his travels for a replacement gate. Instead, while I was away, he fixed it, glued it, attached two strong and perfect pieces of wood onto it and changed the position of the latch so it swings closed with no effort.

I am so grateful. I am so moved. I feel lucky and seen and I am full up with love for the beautiful things people do.

Graham Weir

Graham Weir and I hadn’t spoken in 10 years. When I heard of his death yesterday, I was shocked, devastated and so insanely mad. Even though our deep friendship and decades of collaboration had imploded at the same time as our greatest shared accomplishment, Noah of Cape Town, I still always thought we would get together and laugh; manically, crazily into the night. I am gutted.

Graham and I first started hanging out in Yeoville, Joburg, together. I was a fan and a contemporary. We often followed each other’s performances at the original Black Sun, the next Black Sun and even the last one. We both loved Nick and George and would spend hours at Scandalos. But we became friends and collaborators for real when Graham took over my job as bouncer at The Harbour Café for a while.

When I moved down to Cape Town in 1993 and created the first Theatresports group, we performed at The Dock Road Theatre that December, sharing a stage with Not The Midnight Mass. Soon after that, Graham moved to Cape Town and our creative collaboration became a long-term thing.

We wrote together; Noah of Cape Town, A Circus Sideshow, Songs of Hangings and Redemption.

I directed his and our work. Not The Midnight Mass (two incarnations at least), Songs of Hanging and Redemption, A Circus Sideshow, How Graham Weir Has Accidentally Managed to Stay Alive.

I edited his book How Graham Weir Has Accidentally Managed to Stay Alive.

Our collaboration also happened less formally. I read him everything I wrote, and he did the same with me. We looked over each other’s work. He played me his songs.

We lived in the same commune for a while. I helped him move. He helped me live.

Our fallout was harrowing, horrible and unfixable. We hurt each other. It started under the strain of work but bled into the deeply personal. And still, I didn’t think it would be forever.

We played horrible tricks together. We took useless trips together. We loved and hated things together. We fought dragons and demons together. We were each other’s +1 until both of us ended up in relationships.

Ultimately there is a sense of unfinished business.

I am looking at the painting his mother Mary gave me. It bounced off the wall the week she died. I lit a candle yesterday for Graham and it is the same colour as the painting. Time and space are gone. Go well Graham Weir. I am sorry we fought so long and hard.

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.

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