Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Zondwa Njokweni

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.

A little more about Me (part 7)

I woke up this morning with words running through my head. This is a good thing. You see, I have started learning words for my self-penned one-woman show Drive With Me, that will be premiering on this year’s Grahamstown festival’s fringe. I have forgotten how hard it is to learn words for a one-person show, but I am so thrilled that I am doing this that the learning is a joy. As it should be. I am feeling so different about this show. I am deeply proud of my writing. In Drive With Me I have come as close as possible to really saying exactly what I intended. Now to honour it with some good acting.

I am also filled with creamy bubbles of excitement because Song and Dance enters its second week of rehearsals today, for a run at The Kalk Bay Theatre starting on 1 May. I popped in to the rehearsal room on Friday and director Ntombi Makhutshi and perfect cast Anele Situlweni, Deon Nebulane and Zondwa Njokweni are doing hilarious and amazing stuff. It’s the first time I have written something and then completely handed it over to others to make, and it is thrilling.

So, truth is, I feel like one of the luckiest people again.

Song and Dance – A charmed beginning

Last night Ntombi Makhutshi won Best Director for Song and Dance, my play that was a finalist (and runner up) in the PANSA staged play reading competition for new South African plays. Once I had (irrationally, you know what happens when you suddenly find yourself being all competitive and ‘competition brained’) gotten over my disappointment of not winning, I was able to get back to the real stuff, and I want to pay tribute and give thanks here to that; the real stuff.

First of all, thank you PANSA. This competition is an amazing platform for us writers. What a brilliant way for the scripts to get a first outing. It is a long-waited for, very valued part of the theatre calendar. What is also so important here is that the staged readings feel safe, creative and fun as well as competitive. It is a fantastic thing to be part of. Thank you Brian, Angela, Nono and Max (the PANSA people I harassed on an almost daily basis) for your support, problem solving, enthusiasm and encouragement. And Paul, thanks for the butternut soup. Also, thank you Magnet Theatre; I loved being in your space.

The director and cast of Song and Dance were a dream come true. Ntombi Makhutshi understood what I wanted to say with this play right from the start, and then she set about making it happen with confidence and a deliberate intention. I thought that it was extraordinary that she was able to get so much of the physical comedy and timing into the piece with only a few days’ rehearsal. This was helped by our brilliant casting of Deon Nebulane, Anele Situlweni and Zondwa Njokweni, who rose to the challenge and made my script look brilliant. To be honest, my biggest sadness that Song and Dance didn’t win Best Play is that the cast is not going to go to Durban for the final. I would have loved them to have gone.

I was so happy that so many of my friends made the effort to come and see it. And I was delighted to receive such positive, constructive and helpful feedback from the judges Lara Bye, Tess Fairweather and Mzi Vavi, as well as from the audience. This steers me in the direction of how to make the script better for when it happens for real in a full-scale production.

I was delighted and humbled by the standard of the company I kept, with winning writer Peter Hayes (for his play Suburbanalia), Karen Jeynes (previous winner for Everybody Else Is F***ing Perfect) and Fred Benbow-Hebbert (whose plays have been in every PANSA finals). I was beyond excited that Ntombi not only held her own but took the honours in  company with the brilliant and experienced Tara Louise Notcutt, Pieter Bosch Botha and Jaqueline Domisse.

There will be very little resting. We may not be off to Durban, but the plans will start soon. Thank you team. This is just the beginning of Song and Dance.

love it when a plan comes together

I am on such a high. I have just come back from the first read through of Song and Dance, my brand new play that is one of four that was chosen for the PANSA staged readings here, in the comedy category, in Cape Town. I was quite nervous to hear it for the first time.

I have taken quite a few risks; with the characters, the set-up, the language and even the style of the piece. My biggest fear was that I was the only one who found it funny. Writing comedy is a whole ‘nother ball game. But, I literally had tears streaming down my face all the way through the first reading. It was totally hilarious.

The amazing director, Ntombi Makhutshi gets my humour completely, and she cast the piece with her first choices, who were all, magically, available. They are in no particular order, the gorgeous Zondwa Njokweni, the hilarious Deon Nebulane and the hugely talented and funny Anele Situlweni.

I am a control freak. I like to do everything myself, and to know about every last thing. But this feels totally different. I left that rehearsal space delighted, excited and trusting that this unbelievable team are going to have the best time, and come up with something wonderful.

The four play readings will take place on the 18th and 19th of  May at The Magnet Theatre in Obz. Tickets to the plays are R30 and I am pretty sure there are going to be some fun things. Come check it out.

CA 12-6, Cape Town Revisited

The bar at Artscape’s Arena theatre does not help this show. Last night I came through the main venue where hordes of sparkly, well dressed and lit Afrikaans people dripped over railings waiting to get in to Mannetjies Rue, and The Arena around the corner felt like theatre hell. The door was closed on account of the weather! The miserable barman showed me the two kinds of red wine they had, from horrible labels with screw-top bottles. I passed. (It’s a theatre bar without sherry). There was no music. It smelled of toilets. When I think of The Arena’s heyday, it was the kind of place you could even go to after a show somewhere else in Cape Town, to hang out with the cast of some production or other. You could even dance to the loud music until after midnight in that seedy little black bar. It was a great place to start your own CA 12-6.

Up the stairs I went, too early, because I didn’t want to stay in the foyer. And I’m so glad I did. It gave me a chance to absorb and tweet about Alfred Rietmann’s delicious set. Scaffolding and railings threaded with neon strip lights, still off and dull for the pre-show. A bar, threaded with fairy lights. Dead man body outlines painted in white on an otherwise black, black  set. I got shivers of theatre anticipation. Yes, I thought. Then the house lights went down, the strip lights came on, and it was beautiful.

CA 12-6 is a devised production, directed by Heinrich Reisenhofer with the Siyasanga Company for Artscape. There is something old fashioned about this style of devised production, reminding me of work I did at drama school all those years ago, reminding me of productions with Mark Fleishman, reminding me of one he devised and directed about the prostitutes of Cape Town…but. Back to the here and now.

In a series of partly interconnected monologues, six actors share their Cape Town night lives with the audience. I was literally taken to the streets of my Cape Town jauling past by them, and I could smell the streets, smoke, clubs, bars, hangouts long gone. I heard the music, shared the conversations shouted at The Lounge, now Zula Bar, the drinks at clubs, the drives, the parking, the pool, the whores, the late night snacks. This production is totally evocative and true, true true.

I loved Anele Sithulweni. Ok, I am biased because I think he is one shit hot young actor. I loved his story, his take, his angle, his action; young black boy from ekasi who has made good and has ‘access’. I loved the honest way his character bridged the city and the township and the painful identity issues it evoked. I loved the questions he asked, and how he answered them. I loved his vision of a night on the town, from Camps Bay to The Bronx, from Long Street to the taxi rank. Mostly, I loved his moves.

I loved Zondwa Njokweni’s prostitute Honey. I heard from Anele after the show that she had ‘a source’ who she researched and it paid off in buckets. She is amazing. She picked two duds from the audience last night (one who wouldn’t come up, and one who tried to ‘act’) and she still pulled it all off. Loved her.

I enjoyed Lee Roodt’s stand-up comic, although I wasn’t sure he felt like he was in the same play sometimes. Stylistically it jarred. Michael Inglis’s character, the accidental photographer and night time voyeur felt like he had to carry the weight of the play (and I’m not sure that he did, or had to, it just felt like that). His character was from Joburg, and I think he needed to be more from Joburg. Both him and Melissa Haiden were ok in their parts but they were slightly shown up by Anele and Zondwa who were so truly connected. Frans Hamman played puppeteer to a street child puppet and he was the least successful of all, which was a little disappointing because of the amazing visual promise his appearance set up. All the way through he slinks and crawls around the edges of vision, an image of the ever present homeless on Cape Town’s street, with what looks like a miserable baby in his arms. Scary and sad. Unfortunately his puppet skills weren’t great and his monologue was a bit disjointed.

That’s the detail of it, which only gives half a picture. The lovely thing about this show is that I was immersed. I enjoyed watching it. I was irritated that some audience members left, until I realised that for them the subject matter might be a bit rough, and I hadn’t even schemed of it! It is an evocative, gritty, intelligent, connected piece of home grown, totally Cape Town piece of shivery live theatre. Fight against the difficult title, the horrible bar and the fact that things are quiet on a Cape Town winter’s night. Go. See. It. Let’s relive CA 12-6.

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