Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: fest

Revenge of The King Hip Hop Hamlet

That’s what this festival is all about; a fabulous show that had its last performance today, without much of an audience, but was fantastic, and should have been squeezed full of students, reveling in the coolness of Shakespeare as hip hop.

Eleven gorgeous young Princeton students and a funky DJ do a contemporary take on Hamlet, with rhyme, dance, commitment, moves, energy and tons of creative enthusiasm!

It was hard for me that there were so few people in the audience at the depressing Bowling Club. It irritated me that the tuck shop staff could be heard throughout the performance distracting the performers. It made me mental that people went to the toilet during the show.

And yet, I loved this hour and a half of modern American Hamlet. Ham (Hamilton) has to take revenge on Jean Claude (Claudius). He is a politician, running for mayor. Polonius is Mr Parker, the sheriff. Etc. Classic. Ham gives performance advice to the mc for the showdown.The smooth mix of old and new rhymes, guns and moves, radio show, community war, slo-mo fight scene, and real connected scenes that told the story was totally engaging. The cast was sexy, funky and talented. They performed in a bit of a vacuum. And tomorrow they leave. Sad. And amazing. I was lucky I saw it. Follow the DJ on @DJSUPERNOVA

Delicious Door

I lucked out big time with my first show here at the fest. I went to see the 10am showing of Door, directed by Jori Snell (I am a huge fan!) with Ubom! It’s bloody freezing and wet, and seriously early for theatre, but I was transported, delighted, entertained and thrilled with this gem of a show.

Four weird wooden doors are moved around, opened and closed, turned on their sides and choreographed by the team of six performers who tell, dance, move, sing and even tech their way through the magical moments of the show. A village. A bathroom. a breakdown. A man from the country. Door keepers. Magical plates. Dreams. A drowning boy. Somebody who struggles to fit. Forks. Village life. A crazy cooking demonstration.

The amazing soundtrack includes live singing of great beauty, Laurie Anderson, Kletzmer big band, original music by Brendan Bussy.

The lighting, mainly operated by the cast by overhead projector with sand, sticks, water, net, forks, bubble wrap is a brilliant and creative solution to the limitations of festival lights.

This is perfect festival fare, but much more. It is original, inspiring, entertaining, funny and delicious. It will be hard to top this. See it.


I got that festival feeling

This is a picture of me, taken by Jonathan Taylor, at the Grahamstown festival in 1990, twenty one years ago. I am sitting on the Village Green, helping Melinda Ferguson and Chevvy sell their stuff. I can’t remember if I also had stuff to sell.

Melinda and I had driven my father’s Toyota Cressida down to Grahamstown from Jozi with her mobiles, the sets, props and cozzies for two shows, and our other stuff piled in. We were performing the anarchic sequel to Live Technology (created by Melinda and Peter Hayes) called Dead Technology (by Melinda and I) and a little miracle of a co-production with artist Margaret Roestorf, called Live Art Exhibition. It was in a carpeted sunny room at the Monument that is now the Fringe office! It was exactly that; a live performance of Margaret’s and our writing in a room filled with her paintings.

I absolutely loved that festival. I’m not saying it wasn’t hard. At the last moment Melinda and I had a fight with the person whose cousin we were going to be staying at and our accommodation fell through. Chevvy reluctantly agreed to us staying with him in his commune and we lay on a concrete floor in our sleeping bags for a week. There was no hot water. Everyone else in the house were traders, not performers, and were very stoned and loud. Melinda and I would pack bags with our various costumes and leave them in the boot of the car while we went to the market in between shows.

But our shows were fantastic, and we were passionate and obsessed. And we jauled like there was no tomorrow. Most late, late nights we would end up rolling around on the stinky carpet in front of the fire at The Settlers Hotel opposite The Monument. Or we would dance and scream at the late-night ‘club’ in a side street I can’t remember. Most nights we stayed up as late (or early) as we could because we couldn’t face that concrete floor. We smoked millions of cigarettes and hung out with all the performers and critics and musos and even traders (there was cross pollination in those days). Late night cabarets and music and even movies were always full and only the start of the night’s jaul.

Sunlight and the Village Green was recovery and thaw out time, while we collected an audience, sold craft and ate that same Hare Krishna food. We had just discovered it. There were outrageous reggae buskers. There was flaming Ian Fraser, dissing everyone at his sold out comedy slag-offs. There was weird rock at the Graham Hotel, and venues the size of tissue boxes. There were house parties where people were so trippy they literally floated.

Now I’m getting ready to make this pilgrimage again and I must confess to wishing some of the stuff could “be like it was.” I know I’m romanticising. There was the festival in 1993 when I performed The Rhino Woman when I was so, so alone and sad the whole time. There was the time in 1994 (the only time I was ever part of a completely sold out show with added performances) when I was miserable and angry the whole festival. In 1995 I was involved with Journey, directed by Peter Hayes; the only time I was part of the main festival. It was a wild one, dangerous and crazy, the year James Phillips had his accident. I was in love with about ten musos that festival (including Brendon Jury) and I was secretly involved with someone and so was my best friend.

There were festivals where I performed TheatreSports, festivals where I directed beautiful, completely unattended work, festivals when I knew that the work could have been better, when I could have been stronger, festivals where I performed my own bizarre creations. In 1997 (I think) I did The Return of The Rhino Woman, and I was so, so happy; and drunk every night of the festival, with my ‘technical manager’, my friend Justin, who I had roped in to help me.

I must confess, The Long Table is fun, but it’s a different kind of hanging out that’s done there. Somewhere in the 21 years that I have taken to become this person, who is this age, everything has changed. I just am hoping that this festival, where my own fest identity will be completely different because I am going solely to see work and write about it, I will get that feeling. It’s the slightly mad, almost dangerous, a little out of control, manic magic creative electricity. Bring it on.

Not a bang. A wimper?

That’s my title for Simon’s latest post, after reading it. I hope things get better today otherwise it looks like a 5/10 festival on average, and then I will be cross.

So we start. First a sad note. Some of the cast of Nic Danger and the Rise of the Space Ninjas were involved in a nasty car accident on the way to Grahamstown. Thankfully no one was killed but one cast member is quite badly hurt and the show has had to be cancelled. Guys and girls – we are thinking of you.

Today I stopped being a producer [well for some of the time] and become a Festino – 22nd Grahamstown Festival since 1989 so I can call myself that, I think.    Definitely in the Grahamstown bubble – haven’t read a newspaper [except for Cue], haven’t looked at the TV news; haven’t listened to radio news.   Epic, world changing events may be afoot but I wouldn’t know.   Yah !!

What marked today? What happened? Well it was cold and windy to start with and then very cold, wet and windy; Vodacom crashed from about lunch until about dinner;  the lights went out somewhere about 16h00 until about 17h15 – guess the shows starting at 16h00 had a hard time;  forgot my wallet at home but got it later – felt restricted, couldn’t buy Cue, pay for parking etc;  proved yet again that people don’t read things properly – Cue reported 2 “LONDON ROAD” shows sold out and how many people said “we can’t get a ticket the show is sold out for the whole Festival” – NOT SO buy tickets …… please;  venue people make noise outside venues during shows – note to Ismail Mohamed : please include a programme training venue people how to behave while a show is in progress.

Today’s shows –

[01] The Petticoat Chronicle – with Amy Wilson & Buhle Ngaba, directed by Lynne Maree.    Described as “provocative”.    No.   Had its moments but quite pedestrian and predictable – all the woman issues covered have been done already.   5/10;

[02] The Table – with Annabel Linder and a cast of 5, directed by Sylvaine Strike, dramaturge – Craig Higginson.    A good concept but not done well – family dynamics in a South African Jewish family under pressure with the added twist of a [black] half-sister previously unrevealed to the other siblings and the product of an affair between the [now dead] father and the domestic.   This was the first performance so maybe it will tighten up a bit – it needs to.   Lots of stylized dancing/movement to convey everything from laying the table to flashbacks to dreams to memories.   5/10

[03] Meri Kenaz and the Appropriate Context.   Meri Kenaz was a joint winner of a Standard Bank Silver Ovation in 2010.   She’s good.  The music is folk/jazz/rock or is it rock/folk/jazz or is it ….. ?   Actually it’s all OK – a smoky, intense voice gathers you in and holds you in it’s arms.   She has a solo show as well and I may try and catch that later.   7.5/10

[04] “Rose” with Fiona York, directed by Ben Henessy.   Upfront – I declare an interest – we, KBT Productions produce this show.  So as objectively as I can be [and I am going to let others mark it] – the show is long [about 2 hours] and it covers events in the 20th century that affected lives of Jewish people the world over, from Russian pogroms to the Warsaw ghetto to the exodus to Israel and, in the case of Rose, to America and the current Palestine/settlers/land occupation issues.   Fiona York is very good and she holds the attention of the audience.  A small audience but there was a partial standing ovation and the comments to me afterward were very positive.  Go judge for yourself.


G’town is gearing up

I am driving to G’town on Sunday and will start my marathon of live performance ‘watch and crit’ on Monday, but my OF (old friend) Simon Cooper has a head start and a heads up so he’ll be hijacking meganshead for the next few days and giving us a piece of simonshead; his view of the fest. Here is his producer’s POV of the day before it opens.

It used to be so easy – pitch up, settle in, have a few glasses of decent wine, sleep a bit and hit the first show.  Didn’t appreciate the work that performers, techies, producers and a host of others were doing so that when you did pitch at 10h00 on day 1, there is a show to watch.   Have learnt the lesson in the last few years though.   But, man, the adrenalin does course through your veins – OK, OK it’s a lot of detail but there it is, it gets to me.

So what does a producer’s day before the Fest look like, well –

get up quite early and clean incoming emails off your machine;

pack a bag full of props, advertising material [press kits, cable ties, roses for “ROSE” with labels, business cards for “LONDON ROAD”, bookmarks also] and NAF info etc;

make sure the visiting actress [Fiona York from “ROSE”] who is staying with us, is ready to go and move into her Grahamstown accommodation;

drive to Grahamstown [no hangover because Shirley Kirchmann bailed from supper last night];

drop off tickets for “LONDON ROAD” with a friend – paying a debt for earlier house checking services;

take Fiona to the house and to her venue;

contact Jon K and Juanita F, stage managers for “LONDON ROAD” and “ROSE”;

meet up with them and get road signs from Jon K and leave Juanita F and Fiona to get to know each other and sort out “ROSE”;

find Dumisani and give him the road signs and the cable ties to put up but he’s not answering his phone;

go to the Monument – register “LONDON ROAD” and “ROSE”, see the finance people, see the publicists;

zip past Computicket and pick up some tickets and ingratiate myself with the people managing Computicket in case I need a favour later;

go back to publicity office with press kits left in the car;

meet Dunisani [at last] and hand over road signs;

fetch Robyn S from the bus and take her to the house;

attend “LONDON ROAD” cue-to-cue tech;

drop press kits off at Cue and stop to kiss Belinda de L who is the best advertising manager in the game but she’s out;

make sure Fiona and Juanita F are OK and sorted;

drive back home and try and remember what shows I am seeing on day 1;

food, red wine and sleep.

Next time around – comment on the first shows.  Man, I love it.


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