Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Myer Taub

Post GIPCA thinking

I will steal Juliet’s numbering system (stealing was a theme too) and put down some random post GIPCA Directors and Directing Playwrights thoughts here. You are welcome to add your own in the comments section. One of the best parts of the GIPCA forum is that it engages such lively debate; both on and off the floor.

1. It is totally different being a participant. Different, exiting, good, complicated.

2. I love the talking, but still, ultimately, I love watching performance more.

3. I love the range of work on offer and the many voices that make them.

4. I am amazed that there  is a genuine market for this sort of symposium. Who would have thought?

5. Jay Pather is amazing.

6. Malcolm Purkey, Mark Fleishman, Penny Youngelson, Mandla Mbothwe, Myer Taub, Brett Bailey, to name a few off the top of my head, are very clever.

7. I love that Tracey Saunders and Marina Griebenouw attend the whole thing.

8. I am surprised how frustrated I get when people’s questions are inarticulate or rambling, and then mine end up being that too.

9. I am shocked at how uncomfortable arrogance makes me.

10. I am shocked at how badly I need feedback.

12. I am intrigued about how different the male and female voices in theatre are.

13. I am amazed that the struggle, war, debate is the same.

14. I like GIPCA’s catering.

15. The event has an amazing organisational team, and Adrienne and Themba in particular rock.

16. The theatre world is not generous enough.

17. Actors, directors, writers and academics are very complicated.

18. I have a group of magnificent and supportive friends.

19. It is easier to perform if you know the words.

20. Improv is a huge love.

21. I admire Amy Jephta. She is always so clear.

22. Sunday mornings are not an easy time to perform.

23. Brett Bailey is king of design.

24. You can watch good theatre in any language and understand or be moved. Thando Doni’s Eutopia was fabulous.

25. Our world is different now that there is a GIPCA symposium accepted as a yearly reality.

26. Nicholas Spagnoletti is hilarious.

27. We all know each other, mostly.

28. I am torn between continuing writing this blog, and not writing it. Is it helpful, damaging, bullshit, useful? Let me know.

29. I made new friends and I am a fan of more.

30. I conclude that theatre is not for sissies. (I have no idea who it is actually for)


Mostly mesmerising Interrupting Henry

I finally got to Artscape this evening to see Interrupting Henry, the second play in Artscape’s New Writing Season; there have been a series of misses resulting in me not getting there sooner. It’s written by Myer Taub, directed by Matthew Wild, and designed by Angela Nemov with music by Shaun Michau and lighting by Faheem Bardien.

Interrupting Henry is about a new drama teacher who tries to put on The Diary of Ann Frank as the school play and he gets into a bit of trouble with the rigid school staff and the normal school rules and regulations. The problem is that this isn’t very fleshed out in the script so it doesn’t have much emotional weight or resonance. Nonetheless, the story and it’s execution are very entertaining.

Things I loved about the play: The Set. Angela created an amazing set that was interesting, had great, shifting perspective, excellent usability and great colours. The lighting. It completely worked. The sound and music; it was haunting, rousing, big and contemporary. Ivan Abrahams as Samuels. He was hilarious, complex and totally delightful as the onbewus, typical headmaster. Julia Anastasopoulos as Elsa Brown. I love watching Julia on stage.

Things I didn’t like: Teresa Iglich as Smith. Sorry, don’t get her. Bits of the script that worked too hard or too little at making sense or delivering the issues. Travers Snyders. He brought very little to the role of Zed, the schoolboy. Vaneshran Arumugam as Henry. I think Vaneshran had an off night (I usually love him as an actor) but he seemed very unfocused and all over the place tonight.

I think the script needs to be developed. I remember being a stand-in teacher for Myer (the playwright) when he was a school drama teacher, so I see where he gets his inspiration but I think that the issues need to be brought to the fore in a more committed way.

Still, I really enjoyed watching it.

Site specific at The Slave Lodge

I don’t get to see much of Myer Taub‘s work. It’s mostly site specific, historical/heritage work that isn’t widely publicised. I saw Myer at Wrestlers on Saturday night and he asked me to come along to the Slave Lodge in town for the final performance of the piece he created for Iziko (the SA museum guys), which was yesterday.

I had mixed feelings about going. I wanted to see what Myer and his cast were up to, but I generally find site specific, historical/heritage stuff a huge drag, especially if it is aimed at school kids who are, I am sorry to say, my worst king of theatre audience to be part of. It often feels like you have to make do with extremely un-theatrical conditions, embarrassing interactions with your audience (who also feel like arbitrary spare parts) and relatively dreary historical subject matter.

Which was why yesterday was a bit of a surprise and delight. The piece was commissioned to commemorate the first slave uprising in the Cape in 1808. Although the story was a little convoluted, we got the idea as we were led by the three performers through various spots in the Slave Lodge where we, the audience, would gather to watch the scenes performed by them.

And what was so cool was how the group of school kids started getting into the show and the story. In the beginning I found myself next to two boys who could only take their eyes off actress Bianca (who was playing a sexy washerwoman/narrator at the time) to flick each other’s ears really loudly. I had to use utmost control not to kick their shins. But by the time we had entered the courtyard and the story got more bloody and exciting (and clearer) the kids were following every word. We were joined at that stage by a group of black American tourists who tagged along for the rest of the show and took many photos and answered cell phones. 

What really made this piece of work very exciting for me was the costuming and styling. The actors were dressed in gorgeous, yet simple costumes and all the props and bits of set lifted the whole production into the theatrical realm. It was designed by Angela Nemov who is all over the place at the moment. She was also responsible for the incredible set and design of Dalliances.

I know how hard it is to make this kind of work and to lift it from the squirmy and embarrassing to the successful and powerful. One of the first jobs I did when I had just come back to Cape Town in 1994 was a site specific historical walk about tour for school kids at the V&A Waterfront! So kudos to Myer and his team.

The Slave Lodge is one of those places that everybody knows about and nobody (except tourists) goes to, but it’s an extraordinary space. Check it out.

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