Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Jaci de Villiers (Page 1 of 3)

Lost Property – a virtual, live, global connection

I could feel it in my body the whole week and finally, when Jaci de Villiers (friend and director), Zane Gillion (co-actor) and Gys de Villiers (hero and stage directions reader) met on Zoom for a rehearsal of my play Lost Property I freaked out. My technology was horrible (internet woes), I struggled with my glasses and the screen, I couldn’t work out how to sit, or what angle, and I was a proper mess. Our rehearsal dissolved and I was scared and horrified. What would happen on the day, Saturday, when we would do a live reading?

I really had to think hard about what was wrong. Of course, it was more than one thing, but one of the biggest things was that my body and heart were remembering and wanting to be in the physical world of Jersey City, performing live, at a live festival. That’s what was going to happen pre-COVID. The other thing, a big thing, is that the play is one of the most prophetic pieces of writing I have made and it does make me all strange and weird, but that is a story for another day.

Our rehearsal on Friday went really well – I had (temporarily it turned out) sorted out my internet connectivity, had given myself a big fat pep talk and I reminded myself why I wanted to do this work in the first place.

And so on Saturday at 6pm we went live. Yes I froze a couple of times. No, it wasn’t serious. Yes I had all the usual performer fears and nerves. No, they didn’t get in the way of delivering our connection, characters and intentions. And we performed our hearts out, on Zoom, at a virtual, international festival of political work. We had an audience. We had positive feedback. And it was amazing.

Obviously I still want to get to Jersey City to do a proper run. Obviously I would love to do a run in South Africa. But being part of this festival is amazing. A global, network of theatre and art people from all over has been built and brought together by artistic director of the Jersey City Theatre Centre, Olga Livina, and it is amazing. Check out the website. See what’s on offer. Free talks, amazing shows from around the world. Connect, engage, celebrate VOICES from those who struggle to speak, in politically ravaged countries from around the world.

 

My best theatre of 2014

One of my most favourite pieces of theatre this year was Drive With Me, written and performed by me and directed by Liz Mills. I not only loved doing it, I loved doing it at The Alexander Bar, loved the extraordinary responses I had to it, critically, but especially personally, and I totally loved being on stage in front of tiny full houses, receiving the love and warmth of shared work. I particularly loved being able to share my writing of this piece.

One of the most dangerous and exciting theatrical things I did this year was I Could Go On, three nights of me performing solo improv. Did everything work? No. Did some things exceed expectations? Totally. But I loved it. (I was held by director and gorgeous friend Candice D’Arcy).

One of my proudest moments of the year was the reading of my play Clouds Like Waves by friends and brilliant talents Jaci de Villiers, Tandi Buchan, Nicole Franco, Heather Mac and Charlie Keegan. They made me see how much I love this play. They were awesome and awe inspiring.

One of my absolute delights this year was directing Lynita Crofford in Violet Online. What a sexy little experiment that totally paid off in deliciousness. (opening at the Kalk Bay Theatre on 26 Jan for a 2 week run).

My big and enduring theatrical love affair was my industrial theatre road show for Engen. Honestly, after 10 years they just get better and better, and I love my cast, client and audiences deeply.

One of the last favourites of the year was the total joy of directing Nicholas Spagnoletti’s Drowned Bride. I was as off the wall as I could be, and I was allowed to be. What a gift, I tell ya.

My most outrageous theatrical project was coaching and directing a group of bankers to re-interpret four fairy tales and then perform them competitively. They were inspiring, hilarious and the best teams ever. They taught me so much.

There was more. All of it, in fact. But these were my favourite favourites. Thanks to all who help me do exactly what I love.

 

 

Making way for the big, beautiful stuff

When I realised what was going down with my application for Grahamstown this year I was really angry, hurt and frustrated. To be honest, I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I was in a bad dream and I kept hoping (inwardly) that I had got it wrong and that it would turn out right in the end. And that is exactly what has happened for me.

It turns out I am going to NYC in June for work; I have been working on a very amazing business for the last six or so years called Great Guide and I am going to NYC to do research for the City Sightseeing Bus there. It gets better. One of my besties and most favourite travel partner Jaci de Villiers is coming with because we will be designing, planning and writing the content together. I wake up in the middle of the night with a ball of excitement in my gut.

As if that wasn’t enough, Tandi Buchan, Candice D’Arcy and I are representing SA improv and will be travelling to Canberra Oz to participate in a massive improv festival for the first week of July, at the exact time of the Grahamstown festival. I will be spending the rest of the month in Oz, checking out the improv and theatre scene, hanging with friends and family, and hooking up with another bestie Robyn at her house in the hills of Oz. Can you believe it? I am beyond myself with excitement.

Great Green Ghoen

It is not often that I become full of hope and excitement for the ‘youth of today’, but last night was one of those moments.

Big Friendly and I are in Knysna, visiting our friends Jaci and Gys de Villiers. Gys wrote a play called Groen Ghoen, which Jaci directed, and, here it gets complicated, Gys is performing it as a one man show, and Jaci directed seven of her school learners in a version of it for their school play at Oakhill School.

I went with Jaci and some of her students on their Europe tour in December last year, so I have a connection to some of them. I was delighted when our visit coincided with their short run. So, off Big Friendly and went up the hill to the school to watch the show last night.

I confess, I was definitely thinking I was going to have to be really generous with the production; a bunch of school kids, doing their school play, but from the very moment it started, with the first ‘kaching’ sound effect, to the last ‘love generation’ moment I was delighted and captivated.

This is a complex, highly message driven piece, with many characters, lots and lots of ideas, humour, irony, history, imagination, and challenging questions about how we are treating our precious planet. And the cast of seven were completely up for it. All dressed in green throughout, and with the minimum of props they jump in and gooi. They all played beautifully together as a well knit ensemble and each and every one of them had a moment to shine. I loved Pheliswa Dayimani as Mother Earth, Nicholas Heymans as Triton, Jo-li Kotze’s Kugel hairdresser and Dylan Owen’s camp cook. Stephen Campbell’s very Seff Effrican Atlas, Katherine Clark’s brilliant Camilla and Lara Meter’s disgusting Red Horseman of the Appocolypse were also fabulous. And that is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Speaking of icebergs, how could I not mention Nick and Stephen’s hilarious polar bear scene?

These young people created an exciting, fast paced, moving piece, filled with energy, enthusiasm and commitment. Bravo.

Fleur du Cap, fun, feast, faux pas

I’m supposed to be asleep; it’s a public holiday after all, but the Distell red has woken me I think. And my feet are a bit swollen from those damn shoes.

Last night was the Fleur du Cap awards and this year I was a proper nominee, which basically meant preparing an outfit in advance. Big Friendly chose my shoes, which looked great, gave me the extra height, but were impossible to actually live in.

As usual it was a pretty glam affair, with lots of air kissing on arrival. All the nominees I spoke to beforehand gave away their insecurities by saying how much they hated these kinds of things, but I could see their eyes sparkling.

Off we went for the ceremony and show. This year’s offering was directed by Hennie van Greunen, the director of Die Naaimasjien (winner of best new SA script and Best Actress Sandra Prinsloo), and on the whole I think he did a really nice job; it was quite short with a great opening number. I have to say though, I felt like he didn’t really know his Cape Town audience. I got the feeling that the whole thing had been put together and rehearsed up country and then shipped down for the night. Luckily, most of the presenters of the awards (actors and others) made up for it. My favourites were kept for last; Soli Philander and Helen Zille! They were brilliant, hilarious and totally entertaining. I had no idea she had it in her! (The same can’t be said for old Fiona Coyne, who did not exactly embrace the generous spirit of handing over awards!)

There were two awards that I was absolutely delighted about. Tara Louise Nottcutt’s award for Best New Director, and Angels on Horseback’s award for Best Performance in a Cabaret. And Rob Murray for Best Lighting. Naturally, I was disappointed that none of the ones I was associated with won; especially for Dicky Longhurst and Alfred Rietmann, both nominated in the same category, Best Set Design, for Noah of Cape Town and The Tent.

The big mess of the evening for me was the damn voice over announcing Noah of Cape Town in the category of Best New South African Script. It was a hellova voice over, that went on for ever, pronounced my name wrong (twice!) and then announced Jacqui Singer as the director of the show. What a disgrace! Surely not! Surely every singe piece of material had the right Jaci de Villiers down as the director! Surely. I’m still a bit bitter actually.

Soli and Helen put me back in the mood though. They rocked. Then it was back into the fray to chow and drink. I was very well behaved and didn’t overdo it for once in my life. Big Friendly was so excited by the dessert tables he got stage fright! At a totally respectable 10.30pm we (I) hobbled up those endless stairs, thinking of everything I need to do this year to make sure I get to go to next year’s one!

Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards

The nominations for the Fleur du Cap theatre awards are going to be public this morning; in about an hour, so the idea of speculating is ridiculous, and yet! I have butterflies. Will Noah of Cape Town be nominated, and if yes, for what? How do you choose performers from an ensemble cast like that? Obviously I believe that Jaci de Villiers was the best director of the year (if not the decade) and Dicky Longhurst’s design was beyond spectacular and Mannie Manim’s lighting took the production into the stratosphere, but hey, I am a bit biased.

We’ll know at 9 this morning!

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