Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: AFDA

On Screen – Our Land

Yesterday I went to watch myself (albeit very briefly) in one of the AFDA 3rd year director’s final exam movie. The Labia was a hive of students dressed as celebs, friends, family, young and old, and casts and crew. It was properly exciting.

We saw two movies, with my appearance as an Afrikaans mother in Our Land, director and writer Casey Milledge’s tribute to father son relationships in our torn and divided country.

Although I had great fun and was very impressed by the passion and professionalism of the team on the day we shot, I struggled to visualise the film, and I admit here, I was anxious about how it was going to turn out. I shouldn’t have worried.

What Casey and his creative and technical team have managed to produce is a beautiful looking, hard hitting, stereotype avoiding and deeply personal political film. Shot largely in hand held close-ups and brilliantly edited, the pace, passion and heart of the movie is distilled and made powerful. The choice to make a black and white film, mimicking historical news film of apartheid, was deliberate but not obvious, and the touches of red slashes, so unsettling in the black, grey, white were shocking: A symbol of (bloody) transformation we were told in the Q&A afterwards.

Student films suffer incredible challenges. Performers have to be begged. Resources are terribly limited. Students are over stretched and are often involved in more than one project at the same time. None of that shows in this film. I was seriously, unreservedly proud.

Confession Sessions grows up

It’s two days until Confession Sessions opens for a 6 show run at Alexander Bar. This show pretty much leaves me with a permanent smile on my face and here is why.

Last year I was asked to direct and facilitate a workshopped production with four AFDA Live Performance honours students; a production they could take to the Grahamstown festival. I met my students and chose a name for the production on day one, so that the forms could be filled out for the Gtown application. We had no idea what we would be doing, or how it would even be a thing. But. We worked hard, overcame the usual student challenges, met, argued, rehearsed, threw out, added, practiced, spoke for hours, and finally presented the product, Confession Sessions.

The hard work had paid off. We had ended up making an original, fresh, contemporary piece of theatre with dynamic characters and an interesting and engaging performance style.

After a successful experimental festival at AFDA, a great response at Gtown and two sold out performances back here at UCT, it looked like it was done and dusted, but it did seem like a waste. This show deserved a wider audience.

Fast forward to this year. Four now graduated and professional actors decide to do it again. What a pleasure. What a treat. Exciting and productive pick up rehearsals have left me beyond excited to present this piece again. Confession Sessions is what I love about what theatre can be. Pure and successful ensemble. Great storytelling. Brilliant characters. Hilarious moments. Originality. Entertainment.

If you are a young person, or have one around, I am certain that this show is the one that could turn them onto theatre in a big way. Superheroes with problems, crazy people from South Africa, relationship troubles, a mad funeral for a slain superhero, an arrest, an interrogation, a job application, a memory, ordinary people helped, a therapy session.

Thank you Melanie Aiff, Motheo Madisa, Rendani Mufamadi, and Trent Rowe. You delight me. Break legs for this run.

Book for the shows here. R90 online, R100 at the door.

Confession Sessions

I want to introduce you all to some new people in my life. They are four young, fresh and talented people and I am so excited that I am getting to know them now, at this important stage of their young careers. Rendani Mufamadi, Motheo Madisa, Melanie Aiff and Trent Rowe are their names. All four of them are Honours students in Live Performance at AFDA and I have been working with them on their workshopped production that they will take to the NAF this year (sadly the student festival is no more).

We started with nothing. I asked them what they would like to do on stage and each one of them gave me a different goal and desire. So we started to play, and play, and play. We improvised, we told each other stories, we made up stories, we shared interesting moments from our complicated lives, we played out moments in each other’s stories and we laughed, hard and often.

And slowly, not always easily, but over time, our play emerged. There is so much that is cutting edge about this production that we have all been struggling to describe it. It is called Confession Sessions, a name we were hurried into choosing because the NAF forms needed to be filled out. Luckily the name is still valid (even if the student festival itself isn’t, sadly).

Our play is about 3 superheroes and a side kick (currently out of work), and it revolves around who they are and what they do. It is set in a parallel, dystopian South Africa. These guys have big problems; like we all do. In a series of monologues and scenes, we meet them, discover their super powers, the people they have helped, some of their parents, and we attend the funeral of a fallen superhero. This gives each performer a chance to play their main character and a bunch of subsidiary characters, to much delight.

Very influenced by the style and genre of mockumentary films, we decided to see if we could translate this form into a stage performance. What this has ended up being is a series of snapshot scenes and monologues that don’t tell a linear story, but, rather, introduce us to the characters and the world they inhabit.

The result is this strange, charming, moving and hilarious piece of completely original theatre. It has been difficult to trust it all the time, because it is so new and different. But I am so proud of it. We open in exactly two weeks, as part of AFDA’s Experimental Fest. We have shows on Thursday 16 June at 2100, Saturday 18 June at 1700, and a matinee on Sunday 19 June at 1300.

Please come. I would love this work to be seen.

A funny thing happened on the way to the theatre

This is a post written with a particular friend of mine in mind. Rudy has been a major influence in my life, not only because he has been in it since I was 18, but also because he has had a prescient knowledge of me, and my abilities, loves, hates and talents.

When I was at drama school he told me that I would make a good director. I was furious. I wanted to act. Nothing else would do. He told me to have this conversation with him again when I turned 40. I did. He was right. When I was 40 he asked me when I would become the teacher I needed to be. I was furious. I hate teaching. I only teach when I absolutely have to. It is my worst. He told me we would have this conversation again.

And yesterday, when I bumped into a student of mine from 12 years ago, I realised I had been doing this thing I hate, and loving it in secret, for a very, very long time. Granted, in the same free-lance style that is my usual life, but still, teaching, on and off for more than 20 years. I have also been realising, slowly, like a spreading blush, that I adore my current students (AFDA Live Performance honours students) even though I am not officially teacher, but more coach, facilitator, and kind of director. I am working with them on their workshopped production for the Grahamstown festival, and even though I do more than my fair share of complaining, I love them, and the work we are doing. Who would have thought?

So, I guess, as long as we don’t call it teaching, and it is all part of everything to do with theatre, and drama, I pretty much love it, along with everything else I love about theatre.It is scary how right you have been all along Rudy.

 

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