Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Simon Cooper (Page 1 of 2)

Noah of Cape Town, A prophecy of Drought

In 2003 Graham Weir and I sat down to turn an idea for a story into a fully fledged, futuristic accapella musical, set in Cape Town in the near future. It took us two years to finish the writing and get something of Noah of Cape Town onto stage. This took the form of a cantata version as part of Artscape’s New Writing Programme. In the cantata in 2005, Noah of Cape Town was set in 2012. It described Cape Town as an arid landscape where water was so scarce what little of it had to be guarded by the military. Politicians were involved in hideous water scandals and the city had ground to a halt. There was an illegal black market for water. When we started fleshing the thing out once Simon Cooper had agreed to produce the full version we shifted the timeline and set it in 2020 because 2012 was too close.

The full, amazing premier of Noah of Cape Town took place in August of 2009, almost 9 years ago. As I write this we are 3 months away from Day Zero. The day our taps will be switched off and we will have to queue for 25l of water. The Cape Town we warned about in a fantastic, futuristic, dystopian ‘what if?’ has arrived.

We didn’t pull the theme out of thin air. We were worried about Cape Town and water scarcity. We saw what was happening with the migration of people to the city, refugees from the North, the expansion of Cape Town, the corruption of politicians and officials. We knew there was going to be a water crisis. And we knew this in 2003.

We cannot have been the only ones.


Sweetest Same Time Next Year

One of the things I loved last night (at the opening of Bernard Slade’s play Same Time Next Year at the Kalk Bay Theatre) was what Simon Cooper said about this guy who saw this play (did he say 30 years ago?) and who loved it, and who has spent the last 10 years trying to get it onto stage. Then he said, “I am that guy and this is that play.”

But that wasn’t the only thing I loved about this completely charming, sweet and very funny play. I loved the (when I think about it it is quite ridiculous) idea of a married (to others) couple meeting for a weekend affair once a year for 25 years. I loved Chris Weare’s totally spot-on and immaculate directing. Because I see his work with students I know what an awesome teacher he is, but here, there is a certain freedom with working with Paul du Toit and Julie Hartley who are such professionals, and Chris’s directorial footprint is delicate but all over the piece. That’s probably because he also designed the production; a challenge because the play spans 25 years in the same space.

Mostly I loved Paul du Toit and Julie Hartley as George and Doris. Really, watching Paul is like watching a handsome Bob Newhart. He is quirky, hilarious and so, so funny and his timing is amazing. He makes us want to hang with George all the time, which is good, because that’s what the play is all about. Julie, as Doris, is totally different but as delicious. She is warm, sexy and lovely. I would also have fallen completely in love with her.

What is great about this production is that it embraces the fact that the play was obviously considered very modern when it was first performed in 1975, and as the audience we can’t help watching it with nostalgic, rose tinted glasses. This goes for its absolute Americanness too, which could have been a pain, but really wasn’t. That is helped by mostly very good accents by Paul and Julie.

To be honest, I can’t imagine anyone not loving, laughing through and enjoying Same Time Next Year. Catch it now at KBT, or in Grahamstown, at the festival.

Already Reflecting on Song And Dance

I was so proud last night. I couldn’t have been prouder. I experienced the amazing sensation of having my writing, ideas, intentions and humour brought to life by other, incredibly talented people. What an honour.

Dearest Ntombi Makhutshi, thank you for agreeing to direct this piece. Nobody else could have done such an amazing job. Your casting was perfection, your comic sensibility was spot on, and you deeply understood where I was going with the text.

Anele Sithulweni, Deon Nebulane and Zondwa Njokweni you are what I dreamed of and more. You have given life to the characters and made them real, whole, human and totally hilarious. You crack me up.

Tara Louise Notcutt I am humbled that you are our hands behind everything. You remind me what being in theatre is all about. Bless you.

Finally, to Simon Cooperand Helen Cooper; you two have remained such staunch supporters of my work, from the first little thing I directed at KBT, to the biggest things. I am delighted that you ‘see’ what I am doing and then put your backs into it so solidly. It can’t happen without you.

Opening night audience, you were divine, generous and receiving. Now please tell everybody to come, laugh and have a jaul.

Putting the fest to bed

I wanted to write a general post with little bits and pieces, stories and skinner, before I forgot them and got straight back into real life.

I loved being at the fest this year. It was my first time ever that I went as an observer/writer/blogger, as opposed to performer or director, and the shift in stress levels was remarkable! My only wistfulness was that I had to drink all the wine at Bushman’s where I was staying, instead of in G’town, because I couldn’t drive drunk! I am also fired up about bringing work to the fest next year, which is a good sign.

Reasons (other than good shows) I loved the festival this year: I loved Garvey’s coffee at The Monument. I drove the 60 odd k’s in the morning for a macchiato in a real cup. More expensive than most of the meals I ate, but completely spectacular. I brought a bag of his coffee back for Big Friendly. I loved The Art Lounge and the cutey Argentinian boys who made great masala chai, gluwein, veg pies. It was bladdy cold hanging out there, but it was delicious. I loved Fusion (I think) at Cape Town Edge. Mark remembers everyone, and he makes us feel special. It’s also the best food, and jauling, at the fest. I loved being invited to perform at improv comedy at Cape Town Edge, as a fundraiser. I loved hanging with my little sisters and shooting the breeze, slagging off bad shows. Fiona (Shorty’s daughter) du Plooy and Candice (oh my word) D’Arcy are fantastic fest friends. I loved disagreeing with Simon Cooper about virtually every show we saw. I loved evening replays of some of the funny moments with Helen, Mike R, Anthony and Simon. I loved getting hopelessly lost and having Simon and Mike give up the best parking place to find me. I loved weeing with laughter at The Spur with Ntombi, Thembani and Connie. I loved banging into Strato, a Gtown local and friend, and catching up. I loved my chats to Toby and her sister about everything they had seen, and getting feedback on stuff I recommended. I loved Jon Keevy but didn’t see him enough. I loved free wi-fi at The Monument and at The Spur. I loved writing and posting reviews. I loved my media badge and bag, and all the comps I got, and the fantastic Cilnette in the media office. I loved being media (thanks Steve) and having more than my own blog to share my loud and opinionated voice with.

I hated the cold. I hated missing shows completely because of no electricity. I hated those moments where I realised I wasn’t going to see everything I was asked to see, and I saw the look I obviously gave every year to everyone, right back at me. I promise I’ll never do it again. I hated being so far away and leaving the passing of precious Bayla in the hands of Big Friendly. I hated that I was traveling home on my godson’s birthday! I hated that one or two rubbish shows got ‘ovations’ and accolades. I hated some CUE reviews. I hated what happened to the posters in the rain. I hated being manipulated into giving parking money by everyone who saw me leaving a parking spot even though I had found it all by myself.

I loved facebook and twitter and BBM for hooking me up, keeping me in touch and allowing me the occasional vent. It was a good one.

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.


Someone I know is at the KKNK

Simon reported from Grahamstown a year ago, when I wasn’t there. Now he’s at the KKNK and he’ll piggy back here for a while. I love his insights. Here are his thoughts after his first day.

Came up to Oudtshoorn yesterday morning having never been to the KKNK before. Obviously I am comparing it to Grahamstown to which I have been going for 22 years odd.

One immediate likeness – the first show I ever saw at Grahamstown in 1989 was and remains perhaps the worst show I have ever seen. The first show I saw here yesterday was its equal. But more of that later. Funnily this to me is a good omen as since that inauspicious start at Grahamstown, I have seen such a lot of bloody good shows there.

So what are the first impressions? Same atmosphere – lekker. Parking is more regulated with quite a lot of designated parking areas on the fringes of the area in which the Festival actually happens and people walk in. Same swarm of informal parking attendants and outright beggars with snotty noses and pitiful expressions.  Generally though drivers quite polite [but then it is the first day !]. Of course it is quite warm and lots of people are wandering around in shorts and slip-slops – none of the coats and beanies that mark Grahamstown early mornings/late nights.  The programme is heavy on music and light on theatre whereas Grahamstown is more the other way around.

I  haven’t worked out yet where the heart of the festival is yet – there is a large area with blocked off roads that seems to be the market and somewhere near there is the Festival office and booking area but today I will find it and get a proper festival booklet etc.

Another things that I am pleased to see hasn’t died out at the KKNK [as it seems to be at Grahamstown] is people voting with their feet. The first show was “DIE KORTSTONDIGE RAKLEWE VAN ANASTASIA W” written by Marlene van Niekerk, directed by Marthinus Basson and performed by Nicole Holm and Eben Genis, both of whom I worked with in “NOAH OF CAPE TOWN”, and others.  The SANW Ouditorium holds about 400 people and was about half full when the show started.  5 minutes in the first couple left and by the time it finished 100 minutes later, more than half of the audience had got up and gone. I exaggerate not.  I stayed to see what the reaction at the end was like – lukewarm to cold by the way – and snuck out quietly avoiding Nicole and Eben in the foyer where they were serving food seemingly as part of the play – weird. The play is [I think – I am certainly not sure because it is so obscure and inaccessible] about the ills of South Africa now – violence, incompetency, corruption and inefficiency with a less than subtle hint that the old times might have been better. The programme [the one I have so far] says you will “rol van die lag” and “snak jou asem van skok” – didn’t hear one laugh or any breathy intakes.

This play has won an award at the Aardklop festival – to me that is simply a good reason not to go to Aardklop. So not a good start.

After that went to the first performance of “LONDON ROAD” [English theatre at the KKNK] – audience of about 80, no one left and standing ovation. Finished off the day sitting outside with my “LONDON ROAD” girls and others braai-ing in the mild Karoo evening. Oh and there was a glass or two of red wine.

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