Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Finkelsteins

The Fabulous Finkelsteins, and me

1351_the_finkelsteins_are_coming_to_dinner_photo_nardus_engelbrecht_4(Photo Nardus Engelbrecht)

This little lovely play has been a lifesaver for me on so many levels, and as we turn towards our final week of this run (it has flown by with joy and delight) I am beginning to reflect on some of the secondary enjoyments of being an actor person in a successful production.

Being ‘just an actor’ doesn’t come naturally to me. I am a bossy, over compensating publicity maniac, a used car salesman of the theatre, hell bent on begging, pleading, cajoling and sometimes even paying for an audience to come and see our work. But The Finkelsteins are Coming to Dinner has managed to get its own audience for us to enjoy. I haven’t had to nag anyone. When I default into thinking about who hasn’t come and who has said they would but haven’t I quickly change that old worn script, because, who cares?

I look out into the audience (I only allow myself to see actual faces during the curtain call) without knowing who is there, and it is a surprise and thrill to find out at the end that there were people in the audience who I know. I am able to receive the love and warmth of strangers and friends alike, and I am completely able to play utterly unselfconsciously on stage without thinking about who is there.

I can check up on our bookings and delight in how well they are doing without panicking about the few nights that are still not sold out. I can allow myself to not check up on bookings at all. I can walk into the space knowing that I will be generous and present and do my best (and hope it will be the best night ever, every time) and honour the work, without thinking about any single aspect of production, or admin, or technical, or publicity.

Yes, it helps that the Alexander Bar team have created the perfect venue for these perfect gems of shows. Yes, it helps that I share the stage with two, true superstar men, and let me name them again, Andrew Laubscher and David Viviers. Yes, there is a brilliant debut playwright Richard Kaplan whose play I was lucky to have been cast in. Yes, I can’t help but think of the future of this play and whether there is one, and then I have to stop myself; it’s not my job right now. Right now I live in the luxury of having a day off before our final week of eight shows, and I am going to love every single moment of them.


On Death and Drama

Today is the first day of three days in a row off from performing the Finkelsteins. It is also Rosh Hashanah and this evening we will go and have a feast with our closest and best friends (whose names are not Finkelsteins, and who are, according to the play half-Jewish).

The Finkelsteins (are Coming to Dinner) is the play that has brought me back into performing in a conventional theatre piece, with other actors, a proper script, a director, a rehearsal process. It has been fabulous and scary and exciting and challenging and rewarding all at once.

For those of you who don’t know, the Finkelsteins is about a young Jewish artist, Nate, who is falling in love with his life model but their relationship has the unusual triangle problem of Nate living with his dead mother. No surprises that I play the ghost. Weirdly enough the last time I wrote myself a play, Drive With Me, and performed it, the character was also a ghost. But it gets weirder.

Two weeks into me rehearsing the play in which my character is a dead Jewish mother my own mother unexpectedly died. In an absolute turmoil of crazy emotion and strange dislocatedness I flew to Johannesburg to bury her. In the car on the way to the airport I messaged my cast and director to tell them I would be away for a few days because my own mother had died. It was surreal.

After spending too short a time in mourning with my family I had to rush back to Cape Town to go straight into production week before opening at the CT Fringe. And for the last 10 days I have been playing a character for whom Kaddish (the prayer that is said for the dead) is said in my presence on stage. The layers of connection, communion, catharsis and empathetic link to my universe and the made up one are huge.

I have no real idea about how anything works, but I know this. The magic of stage, word, life, family,  friendship, allies, ghosts, dreams and my own fleeting journey in this space are like tiny, absurd unicorn burps of miracles, and I am both grateful and unexplainingly furious for and about everything.


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