Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Chekhov

Why I am lucky – an improviser’s note

I love what I do, and I get to do it a lot. Most weeks, twice a week I get to improvise live in front of an audience. Sometimes I emcee a show and sometimes I play. Both of those jobs are completely ace. Last night’s show is a case in point. It is a love story on so many levels. Here’s what happened, and who and how I loved.

Last night we did something a little different from our regular Tuesday short form improv show at The Kalk Bay Theatre. We did what we came to call a ‘half and half’. Half the show was dedicated to some fun short form games. Then, after a tiny interval to reset the stage, we did a 25 minute long homage to Chekhov. I emceed the short form games and directed the Chekhov, giving me a brilliant opportunity to kick back and watch the magic happen from the sidelines. I was particularly invested in the Chekhov piece, after seeing 3 beautiful examples of Chekhov by The Mechanicals in the last two weeks, and also because I had run a short workshop on the themes and styles of Chekhov; adapting them to an improv situation. I promised the improvisers that I would intervene where necessary, to guide the piece, but I didn’t. Not once. It all unfolded absolutely beautifully, hilariously, confidently and touchingly and all I had to do was watch. I loved each and every member of the team and was glowingly proud of them.

But before that. The short form games. When I saw the three gorgeous pre-teen boys and a mum coming into the theatre I was delighted that we were doing a first half of short games that the boys would love. And when I came out in front of the audience for the first time and there were quite a lot of ‘never-seen-improv-before’ members, and I was pleased to take them through short form before the long form. The cast did not disappoint. Each game was delicious, culminating in an Opera called The Finger Puppets of Geometry. Yes. Our audience was in raptures. And I loved them back. They were perfectly primed for the completely made-up Chekhov, which they loved.

There was a lot of love going around. After the show I had a glass of wine at the bar with a big table of fans. They were also half and half; half veterans who had seen us before, and half first timers. They could hardly believe that we had made it all up, but what sold them on the idea was that we had taken up some of the strange suggestions from them. This was proof that we weren’t faking it.

I left, into the rain and cold with the biggest, warmest grin. Full of improv love. And, I get to do it twice next week, and then begin to teach it, in our brand new improv training course starting next Thursday. Lots more love. Keep up to date on our ImproGuise website for news, info about performances, courses and our 15 hour improvised Soap-A-Thon in October.

Chekhov makes me go back on my word (it is that good)

I know. I know what I said about writing ‘review’ style posts on meganshead. I know I made a declaration about how I wouldn’t, but I have to. I am compelled to write about last night because I don’t know how else to let you know how special Die Kersieboord, by The Mechanicals, is.

It was absolutely icy, and totally wet last night, the second night of the first Chekhov offering (The Cherry Orchard in Afrikaans) that The Mechanicals are doing, in rep with the double bill of The Bear and The Proposal. To be honest, the last thing I felt like was dragging my sorry arse outside, away from the fire and warm dogs. But I am so completely glad I did.

Sandra Temmingh directs this gorgeous translation, with an ensemble cast that are stunning. Every single one of them are so perfect and gorgeous that I feel bad selecting Oscar Petersen out, but he does have the most mind blowing moment of the show.

It runs for an hour and twenty minutes (short for Chekhov). I last saw the original, unabridged version over twenty years ago. My Afrikaans is nowhere near fluent so I am not sure how much is completely different from that version, but this is the new, improved one for sure, and it makes for the most riveting, moving, entertaining, satisfying and delightful theatre.

But there is more. Somehow, Sandra and her cast have turned this production into the most relevant piece of theatre for South Africa (white South Africans in particular) and the connections are direct and totally electrifying. It is a massive achievement. It is not commentary, or satire, or protest. It is a gentle, horrifying and hilarious story of loss and change and human ridiculousness. It is beautiful and I urge you to go and see it.

Die Kersieboord runs 6 – 17 Aug and 28 – 31 August Tuesday – Saturday at 20:00
The Proposal (20:00) and The Bear (21:15) run Tuesday to Sunday 22 – 27 August and 1 – 12 September.

As a side note, we will be performing a long form, Chekhov style improv show on Tuesday 27 August at The Kalk Bay Theatre called Chekhov’s Women, in honour of Women’s Month.

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