Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Song and Dance (Page 1 of 2)

Festival Post Mortem

I always knew I would write this post, but even now I find it difficult. I have been home 3 nights and there is nothing more comforting than fast ADSL, animals, my things and my solid pillar of Big Friendly. Still, for those of you who weren’t there or didn’t hear me say so, the festival was one long, tough, exhausting, often painful, occasionally inspiring, frighteningly empty affair.

I had very few people coming through the door to see Drive With Me, even though those that did seemed to love it, a lot. The combination of a great review on day 1 and then nothing until an Ovation award on day 10 didn’t help (although I am deeply grateful for both). Song And Dance got better and better, without a word or pic in CUE (to be honest I have no idea how people knew about it), and even though Pieter Bosch Botha and Richard Antrobus did a sterling publicity job on Fully Committed and people raved about it I had visions of sold-outs and extra shows because of how perfect it was for the festival. Truth is, it was a very quiet affair, with tons of parking in the streets, food and furniture always available at the Long Table, nobody at the Village Green, and people handing out comps left, right and centre. The only full show I attended was jammed full of school kids. That’s not to say there weren’t full ones. It seems shows that were there for the 2nd and 3rd time did better.

The worst part about all of this is that I am already thinking about how to do it differently next year. Please, theatre gods, if I decide to jump, look after me harder.

And now for some other news. I have decided, after much hearty discussion with friends, family and some colleagues, to stop writing review style posts here on meganshead. I am very sad about it, but I feel like it typecasts me in the industry and people then find it difficult to see me or receive me when I do theatre work of my own. Obviously, that is still more important to me, and so I think I will serve myself better if I am not seen as a theatre critic. I’ll still write, and share my opinions about everything else, including industry related stuff, but I will leave the ‘reviewing’ to those less involved, even though I am confident I did a bladdy good job. So, I will still see almost everything, and I will facebook and tweet about whether I liked it or not, but I’ll reserve this space for writing about other, varied stuff. How do you feel about that? Please send me comments to let me know.

“I was no longer driving the car…”

I am over half way. 6 down and 4 to go. I won’t lie. I have felt mostly hysterical, most of the time. I confess to having no audience numbers, no publicity, no recognition from the mysterious festival powers that be, no ovation, very little press. I admit that I have had the devotion and total commitment from my loved ones; friends and family who have held me close and strong.

I love my show Drive With Me (in case you hadn’t noticed). I think it is brilliant, which is why I get sad (and even more committed) when there are 10 faces in the audience. Even when two of them were sleeping before I even spoke my first word. How it goes. It’s not only me. When I admit to fellow industry folk how hard it is for me the floodgates open. No houses. 11 people in the audience. Ja.

My good news stories. Anthea Moys. Her work at the festival (and I have only seen two pieces; the chess and the soccer) has been a total delight. She has taken on the city of Grahamstown in the best way, setting herself up for failure in the most charming and hilarious of events, and this work is inspired, feel good, community inclusive and even healing, in a way that most theatre can’t be. I think I love her.

Fully Committed. Nothing could make me prouder than the huge visibility of this show. Pieter Bosch Botha and Richard Antrobus have worked their bum muscles to the bone to publicise this hilarious and festival-perfect show and it has paid off in spades. Big audiences have been enchanted, amazed and delighted by his genius performance and lightning quick switches between 36 characters. As director, all I have been asked to do is kick back and enjoy. Yes.

The cast of Song And Dance. It hasn’t been such fun for them, with small houses, no reviews, and very little recognition, but they are kak funny and I think the show is the best it has ever been. Bravo Deon, Anele, Zondwa, and Ntombi Makhutshi the director. I am so proud of what you have made of my (our) play.

So, other than Anthea, I am still waiting to be blown away, although I do confess to not having seen too much. I really enjoyed Stuart Lightbody’s Unreal. I worked hard to enjoy Tom Pain, because I love watching Albert on stage so much, I enjoyed Mary Sibanda’s exhibition a bit. The Belgian was cute. I have missed too much.

Last night I watched Same Time Next Year again and was delighted by it again. Tonight I will revisit Gina’s The Line.

And then some interesting impressions. Gtown, land where even the obscure critic becomes god. Student radio is banal. People want to see what was on last year, and the year before. I don’t know how actors can get so wasted and then still perform the next day. Gtown, where old grudges fester and new ones are made. Gtown, where the difference between black and white is obvious again. Gtown, where students bring the best joy, and most passionate response to the work. Gtown, where the CUE is hated and obsessed over in the same breath. Where every once in a blue moon a person working on the Village Green randomly chooses to see your show and is moved enough by it to leave a response. Where American post grad students engage in hearty, healthy political conversations. Where people still ask me whether I am here playing Theatresports. Where I spend at least R50 on parking attendants, who probably have exactly these 10 days of informal work in the whole year. Where when I asked a parking attendant where she was from (she had a foreign accent) she panicked and tried to send me to her “office” where I could find out that she was ‘allowed’ to be there.

Where equipment is as old as my 29th anniversary of being here. Where the difference in size of every stage flat is directly proportional to the size of the gap between them. Where the unspoken politic of shmooze, taking out to dinner, paying for drinks, false promises, fake smiles, secret handshakes, embarrassing hangovers, obvious indiscretions, confusing nostalgic reminiscences all surface. Where I learn that I cannot, and shouldn’t have to, sell my own work like a tradesman. Where I get inspired for writing my next damn show while lamenting my current lack of achieving commercial success.

Where the pep talk from my brother is the best advice ever. Too good and private to write down here. Where the tears of Big Friendly are enough to make me know so completely how brilliant I am. Where the strong arm of by bestie Jaci is like an iron rod of encouragement when I might fade or fall. Where the stamp of my magnificent director Liz Mills (even though she is already back home) makes me honour our choices every day, to every face that looks back at me. Where the man who took the courage to talk to me even though he was still so freaked out by Drive With Me that he didn’t know if I was real.

Wicked, powerful theatre gods bless Grahamstown festival. Fuck you Grahamstown festival. You filthy theatre whore in my blood.

Song And Dance and Laughing

Whenever I see the cast of Song And Dance (I’ve popped into a couple of pick up rehearsals) I end up laughing so hard that it hurts. I cannot believe how funny they make my play. Here are some gorgeous pics taken by the amazing Jesse Kramer. Honestly. If there is one comedy you see at the National Arts Festival it should be Song And Dance.



More Song and Dance Reviews

Tracey Saunders gave it a thumbs up in The Cape Times

And Theresa Smith did too in The Argus Tonight.

“ODDLY named, Song and Dance turned out to be an entertaining slip of a comedy.

Short and to the point, the little play does contain a bit of song and dance, but not in the way you would expect from vaudeville or a musical.

It does play a bit on the expression though, in that it presents us with a familiar statement that turns out to be untrue, but only to the extent that it messes with our assumptions.

The dark comedy features three characters: two burglars and a tenant.

It starts with the two inept burglars rifling through a flat, bemoaning the lack of anything worthwhile to steal.

The set is the most elaborate I’ve seen at Kalk Bay Theatre – an open plan lounge cluttered with bright pillows, lamps and kitchen accoutrement on the bar – which then makes fun of the song and dance statement and the play continues in this vein of presenting you with a particular picture that is then proved untrue in words.

Turns out the bumbling burlgars have broken into the wrong flat and they then get to know a whole lot more about the woman than they wanted.

Andile (Nebulane) seems to be the older, more worldly-wise one, while Fikile (Situlweni) still dreams big, even if he can’t follow through on what he wants out of life. Still, for all that they have so little that they feel they need to take from others, they have got each other which is more than their victim has.

Written by Megan Furniss, this is the directorial debut of Ntombi Makhutshi who certainly picked up a lot of good lessons from her stint on London Road.

Makhutshi keeps the pace fast, using Furniss’s satirical script to keep the audience bemused and the plot unfolding at a manageable rate.

Nebulane and Situlweni provide lots of laughter with their physical comedy, while Njokweni gives us the pathos with her shell person. She creates a character who looks like she has everything on the surface, but once you start scratching you realise there is not a lot inside.

The guys go from inept to menacing at a drop of a hat, while Njokweni’s character pokes sly fun at our celebrity culture. They raise some interesting points about what it means to have stuff and whether this means you’ve actually made it in life – but don’t be sidetracked by philosophical points. Pay attention to the words because the jokes come fast.

At just under an hour, the play is very short, but that is good because stretching it further would have belaboured the point. The story reaches a point where the burglars have to make a decision about what to do next, and they do.

Watch it to find out what they decide. It’s a well-spent hour.”

Song And Dance Reviews

What the critics are saying. Artslink:

Kelly Lodewyks: Two would-be burglars break into an apartment that doesn’t quite meet their expectations.

It slowly dawns on them that this is not the apartment of the rich man they had targeted, and drama soon unfolds as the tenant returns home to find the pair of criminals in her house. So starts the comic Song & Dance written by theatre exponent extraordinaire Megan Furniss.

Currently running at the Kalk Bay Theatre, Song & Dance is a fast-paced slapstick look at crime in South Africa, which pokes fun at reality shows and local celebrities. It’s easy to sympathise with the characters as they expose their inner thoughts and vulnerabilities, and as they realise of each other that there is more than meets the eye. We even find ourselves rooting for these so-called bad guys as the show progresses and we come to recognise that everyone is simply doing what they can to get by in life.

The directorial debut of Ntombi Makhutshi (of London Road fame) Song & Dance sees Deon Nebulane, Anele Situlweni and Zondwa Njokweni deliver the three characters with such passion and conviction that when you see them after the show, it’s difficult to separate them from their roles.

The set, by contrast, is minimal with only a few furniture items and no dramatic backdrop or lighting. When sound is used, it is more than ample to put viewers right there in the room and in the shoes of the characters on stage.

Despite the comedy of the story, it hits close to home. It addresses very real issues, but in a light-hearted way. Thoughtful, creative and funny, Song & Dance serves to show that sometimes we are allowed to laugh when things go wrong. A very ‘South African’ piece, it nonetheless has the potential to cross international borders just as easily as it crosses race and language boundaries. This is a show that will appeal to everyone.

Song & Dance was runner up in the regional PANSA (Performing Arts Network of South Africa) playwriting competition and is on its way to the Grahamstown Arts Festival later this year. Catch it right now at the Kalk Bay Theatre.

And Clifford Graham from Monday Missile:

On it’s way to the National Arts Festival fringe in Grahamstown, where it is sure to be a hit, Megan Furniss’s new play Song and Dance has a preview run at the Kalk Bay Theatre. Given Megan Furniss’s impressive credentials as a theatre-maker, and sharp sense of comedy, it’s little wonder that this play is off to a good start.
A bungled burglary, two hapless would be thieves find themselves in the wrong apartment. The targeted victim lives next door! Instead, the current resident comes home to find the thieves scratching their heads at the lack of valuable pickings in her flat. This in itself  sets a scenario for much mirth, but soon things develop into an even more bizarre situation. From being caught red handed, what ensues is a hilarious look at life in South Africa. Even Gareth Cliff gets a mention. Ntombi Makhutshi directs an impressive ensemble in Anele Situlweni, Deon Nebulane and Zondwa Njokweni. I have to say I was amazed by Zondwa Njokweni’s antics in an impressive looking pair of heels. Anele Situlweni and  Deon Nebulane as the bungling burglars have enough home grown buffoonery in them to keep an audience laughing for Africa. Happily the comedy is contained making it all the more plausible. Song and Dance while being something of a dark comedy does provide an opportunity to see a typically South African issue in a different light.
Simon Cooper of KBT productions has done well to spot the potential of this play. It’s sure to do well wherever it is staged
Song and Dance may make you feel a little uncomfortable at times, given the regularity of house breaking in South Africa, but the comedy that ensues from the situation will keep you laughing long after the inevitable rousing applause.

The Song And Dance bridge

I hope I am not reading too much into last night’s Song And Dance audience. It was tiny, but it spanned the Cape Town demographic absolutely. White, coloured and black were the flavour of the 20 odd people who laughed, chuckled, guffawed and wheezed through the show, from beginning to end. I also sat there with a face splitting grin, and laughing my head off; I find this play completely hilarious.

But my inner delight is that it feels like this piece has transcended certain racial, cultural and language barriers, and can truly be enjoyed by all South Africans. This is the amazing achievement of the director and cast, whose style and interpretation of comedy is broad and deep. I don’t think I have ever seen performances quite like these; totally true to the material, totally original and creative, totally committed and enthusiastic and totally hilarious.

Don’t get me wrong. I think it is a massive challenge to sell this play. It needs to be said. A white, suburban theatre going audience does not generally choose to see a play with an all black cast. There is this vibe that it’s “not for them”. A black audience in Cape Town is rarer than hen’s teeth. Matched with the Kalk Bay Theatre being situated off the beaten track, it is a double challenge. And then coloured audiences in general seem to throw all their support at coloured work; Mark Lottering, Joe Barber, Loukman Adams.

But last night, all jumped into the pot. All. And we kicked back and laughed. Together.

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