Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: G’town (Page 1 of 3)

The Big Fat Cape Town Fringe Festival Elephant in the Room

I have put off writing this post until now because I was a little nervous that certain productions that had put in proposals for the new Cape Town Fringe Festival would be unfairly disadvantaged by whatever association with me. I shouldn’t have worried. They were both turned down anyway. In fact, I only know of 2 productions that were selected and I heard about that before any other announcements were made (no idea how they knew that they had been chosen!), and they were not Cape Town productions.

Ever since I heard about this new, shiny Cape Town Fringe I have had more questions than answers. No, let me express myself a little more clearly, so you get the picture. I have felt rage at its existence, fury at the lack of consultation, disbelief  that the City of Cape Town signed a 3 year contract with the powers that run the Grahamstown festival, and total amazement that other artists and arts media and theatre lovers all thought that this was a good idea.

Here is just some of what pissed (and continues to piss) me off.

1. Why do we need a Cape Town Fringe Festival in the first place? I know my home town as a place where I spend the whole year making theatre and sukkeling to get an audience to come, dealing with venues, producing work, directing work, performing work and supporting others’ work. That is what we do. All year round. Now the GTown powers are coming and telling us what to do, how to do it and when, in Cape Town. Sorry, no.

2. Why a new festival when all others have bombed? We have had Cape Town festivals before that sucked and failed. And winners that failed. Out The Box, a gorgeous festival, died a horrible death when it couldn’t get funding. Infecting the City is already a Cape Town festival.

3. Who has curated this Cape Town Fringe Festival? Ok, so it’s no secret that I have a terrible relationship with the Gtown powers that be. No love lost. But really? The flailing Gtown festival organisers sail into my city and make a festival? Their rules, their ideas, their plans, their choices, their budgets in my city? I get that if I don’t want to do their festival in Gtown I can choose not to, but this city of Cape Town is our stomping ground (me and those unconsulted, unhappy, distrusting and bitter) and we feel betrayed by the City of Cape Town. Why weren’t any of the Cape Town theatre players that I know and respect consulted?

4. Suddenly people who ‘applied’ are getting rejection emails that explain that the work they submitted isn’t representative. Ja. WTF? Explain who decides that. No, don’t. What utter trash.

5. Why would any local artist pay to be part of this? I cannot imagine who would put up the extra costs. Apparently plenty do, and are, if the flood of applications is anything to go by, but I don’t get it. At all.

6. Why is the whole thing so hush hush? Why wouldn’t Zayd Minty (from the City) meet with us to answer our questions? Who did the deal? Who gave the go ahead? Who drew up the budget? Who is paying?

On a personal note, I think I will make a plan to be out of the city then. Stuff your festival and the miserable Eastern Cape sponsored car you drove up in.

PS. I know. I know the backlash is about to whip my sorry arse. Hasn’t killed me yet, and shutting up never made me friends anyway.

Moving towards the Real Thing

It has been such an interesting week of rehearsals; that weird space where I almost know what I am doing (but not necessarily achieving it) and the technical side of things is slowly being added; sound and media. It has been an inordinately long time since I handed all aspects of production to another person and just focussed on the performance, and it is an unfamiliar (but most welcome) space.

Aside from the challenge of performing my own writing, I am constantly aware of how habituated I am to improvising and being totally present in a moment that will never be repeated. Here, I have to practice each moment, get it right, and then be able to get it similarly right every time. I hope I am getting better. I am thrilled, exhausted, panicked, emotional and excited. Every day.

And I am starting to think beyond the rehearsals to performance. Drive With Me. Quite a journey.


It’s been two weeks since I started working with my awesome director Liz Mills on Drive With Me. We haven’t worked every day, or every moment of the days we work; I certainly don’t have the focus or stamina to do such intensive work, just me and her, for too long. But I am totally obsessed and pre-occupied. I say lines of text in the car, in the shower, to the dogs. I stomp around the house doing chunks and Big Friendly keeps thinking there is someone else here or that I am on the phone, fighting with someone. I keep trying on bits of costume and standing in front of the mirror, so I can have a clear picture of myself in my mind while I work on the floor.

Yesterday we managed a stumble through. From beginning to end. I almost know all the words and I am remembering what I should be doing where (even if I’m not actually doing it yet). It is an amazing feeling doing a one-person show again after all these years. And it brings up so many other, related and unrelated feelings. “Threads of past memory surface into the present.” That’s a quote from the play.

Here are some random moments and observations from the rehearsal process.

1.Liz and I gossip and reminisce, a lot. We have a lot of catching up to do; it’s been 30 years since I started drama school, with Liz as my voice teacher.

2. Liz talks about the writer (me) as if she was another person, blaming her for writing a challenging script. So do I.

3. Things in the script keep happening in real life. A small Fiat Uno on the side of the road, orange traffic cones down the middle on the white line. Neil Young on the radio. A ghost in a story. Stephen King on twitter. Everything is connected.

4. I am touched, moved by and sensitive to arbitrary moments. I am ready to cry, but not in or during the work.

5. I am excited about building relationships with an audience; that’s always been my big thing.

6. I watch other performers and compare myself to them all the time. “I do that.” “I don’t do that.” “I should do that.” “I’ve never even thought of doing that.” I imagine how they feel, how what they do makes them feel.

7. I am able to jump right into the performance zone when I improvise. Somehow, the focus of rehearsals and repetition bring my readiness to improvise onto my fingertips and everything is so easy to access. What a bonus.

8. I am able to criticise the writer and enjoy her and know it is me. I am starting to do that with the performer too.

9. I am saying my mantra for Grahamstown even as I type this. I don’t want to jinx it, so I’ll keep it private.

Here’s what I want you all to do. If you are coming to G’town, come and see my show. It’s called Drive With Me and it is on at the NG Kerk Hall from 27 June to 7 July every day, bar one (28 June). If you aren’t coming, please recommend it to friends and family who are. I am almost prepared to guarantee that whoever sees it will be a little bit changed (in a good way) forever.

Liz Mills Voice Boot Camp

Honestly, I can’t imagine why anyone would NOT do this.

Voice Boot Camp 2013

Champion Catch

We all know that bringing a fringe show to the festival is hard. You have to get your own audiences. You have to pay through the arse to get yourself here. You have to wage war against the venues. You have to compete with Neil Diamond reviews and hypnotists. But today Shirley Kirchmann had to overcome a few odds to do her show, and it was amazing.

I could not find the damn Library Hall. I have been to it before but it is completely un signposted. When I finally got there it was so cold we all stood in a clump waiting for the doors to open so we could keep warm. But there was a problem; there was no electricity.  Shirley asked the few of us who were waiting if we were ok for her to do the unplugged version and we all said Yes!

This chick is a trooper, and a heroic and talented one too. She announced every sound and lighting cue. She sang her own sound track. She got her techies to join in, to the natural light of daythrough the windows and the constant grind/groan of the earthmover moving earth on the building site next door.

Those of us there loved her all the more. And her show is damn cool and funky and funny and wise. It is a half stand-up half character, half jokes show. It’s about being a single and on the dating scene, looking for love and being disillusioned. Shirley is rough and crude. I love it. She connects with her audience, She is full of energy. She is a dynamo of jokes and funny stuff.  And, truth be told, I laughed my heart out. Catch by Shirley Kirchmann rocked the house.

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

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