Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Thando Doni

A Moment of Forever Change – theatre changes lives

8940219Last night I went to see the final performance of the very short run of Ubuze Bam at the Theatre Arts Admin Collective. Directed by Thando Dhoni, four real life parolees perform stories from their lives, and their time in prison. Not gonna lie, it felt like I was doing my community service by going. You know that feeling? The show you should, and aught to see, but don’t really in your soul want to? Sometimes your soul is utterly surprised, shaken up, thrown about, and possibly fundamentally changed. Last night that is what happened to us.

Sitting in that space for just under an hour was a combination of agony, heartache, hope, hell and even humour, in the most profound, delicate, searing and brain challenging way.

Thando is absolutely magical at creating ritual and meaning through repeated movement and he managed to get four non-actors to deliver complex and terrifying material with such complexity. I was undone. I started crying and couldn’t stop. When one of what seemed to be the more quiet performers let rip in an agony of screams, demands, pleadings and rage, behind a converted bench of prison bars, I could barely breathe. “Ndidiniwe” – I am tired, he wailed over and over and over again. I could only imagine.

You cannot ever forget, while watching them, that these young men have just come out of prison, serving time for hard core crimes. You cannot ever forget that they are now performing for an audience who are listening to them instead of separated out from them. You cannot ever forget the hideous and terrible things we do to each other, and the the exact opposite; humanity, compassion and connection.

There is no doubt that this was one of the hardest, most beautiful and challenging performances to witness, but it is clear that it changed me, us, the audience, as much as it changed these young men. I pray to a god I don’t believe in that they will feel that change for a very long time. And that they will do this play forever.

Please take a look at www.younginprison.co.za for more about this programme. And always support the innovative and extraordinary work made and performed at the Theatre Arts Admin Collective.

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)

 

Most Magical Mhla Salamana (When our Eyes Met)

This will be the first time I ever write about a play that moved me to tears even though I hardly understood a word. Mhla Salamana is one of this year’s offerings at the Baxter Theatre’s Zabalaza Theatre Festival, directed by Thando Doni with Aphiwe Menziwa, Mkhuseli Tafane, Asanda Rilityana and with awesome acapela soundscape by  Muzik Sensation.

It tells the all too familiar story of how a beautiful relationship can go wrong, with misunderstanding leading to abuse and violence, and how children are so badly damaged by the friction of their parents. In this case it is how this story is told by the brilliant cast and musicians that makes it in turns hilarious, delightful, warm, clever, touching, chilling and shattering. I could not believe how deeply, profoundly affected I was as we all rose as one to give the cast a standing ovation. Storytelling, physical theatre and stylized movement heighten the content, but it is the characterisation and connection between the three characters that is absolutely superb.

Mhla Salamana was the only Zabalaza show I saw this festival, but if this doesn’t get a full run I don’t know what will. Brilliant, original, moving, totally exciting local theatre. Bravo Thando, Richard, Asanda, Aphiwe and Muzik Sensation.

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