Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

The Letter I received from Fred Abrahamse and Marcel Meyer today

Below is the letter I received from them via email. It was also posted as a comment under my review of Dalliances and I copied it here. I am interested to hear what others think. I am putting the whole thing down. If I decide to reply it will also be in the public domain.

Dear Megan,

It with great dismay that when we Google theatre productions in Cape Town, yet again, your vindictive, malicious and destructive Blog pops up on the computer screen. Today your personal, bitter attack on the performers in Dalliances is no exception. We have not seen the production yet, so we are not commenting on the validity of your personal opinion but more on the absolute poisonous attack on the young performers and the destructive repercussions it could possibly have on a new work and a producing management.

We ask ourselves repeatedly, when reading your vitriol, what are you trying to achieve with these personal, uncalled for attacks….and several issues arise…

You are an independent theatre maker, writer and director in the Cape Town Theatre Industry – Why attack it so personally?

You are a member of PANSA – an initiative trying to support, promote and unite and the independents in the industry. – Why go against everything PANSA is trying to do?

Roy Sargeant raises millions for the New Writing Season [his own personal initiative] to promote new young writers, directors, designers and actors and inject a new and exciting energy into the theatre scene and create employment! Your new play is part of this year’s season. Last year you co-wrote and directed Graham Weir’s new musical – staged at this initiative and the year before, if memory serves correctly, you had your production of Noah staged there – Where is your appreciation and loyalty?

You co-directed the two young actors in Merchant of Venice at Maynardville, which you so spitefully and personally shredded in your Blog on Dalliances – Why?

Your apparent homophobia is quite disturbing in this day and age.

We and several others have also been at the receiving end of your poisonous pen.

In a time when the industry is trying so desperately to survive and do provocative, new work – we cannot understand your personal ranting and cruel attacks.

Unfortunately with the internet age – your Blogs are public domain and several people when searching for a possible ‘show’ to see, could come across your Blogs and this could be so destructive.

Now of course Megan, you are fully entitled to your own personal opinions. You are fully within your right to post them and publish them wherever and whenever you see fit. You also have the right to dislike a production or performances – but why not say so in acceptable ‘theatre jargon’? Why do you always resort to these personal attacks on people? With Dalliances, for instance – why not stick to saying that you found the boys’ performances a bit one dimensional or whatever – why go on about,” …their most successful moments were the ones where they said nothing and had their pants down…”

In your successive Blogs we have read, with disbelief, spiteful comments about and allusions to performers’ sexuality, their hair, their weight, their friends in the industry [information you are privy to – as you are in the industry e.g. A responsible writer would not raise the issue of Anthea Thompson and Robyn Scott’s friendship in a review about Anthea’s performance as the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet] …the list of your vitriol is endless…and all this, when not five lines above in your latest Blog, you bemoan your fate at the hands of Adrian Sichel’s unfavourable review of your latest offering in Johannesburg. Not one line in her review was a personal attack on you or your performer!

Now what to do?

We are absolutely powerless, in this modern internet age, to stop you nastily Blog-ing away.

However, there is something we as the management of the NewSpace Theatre can do!

You are well aware that all public bars, restaurants and theatres ‘reserve the right of admission’.

We as the NewSpace hereby evoke that right and wish to inform you, Megan Choritz, that you are forthwith restricted [banned if you like] form attending any performances or events at the NewSpace, 44 Long Street Cape Town. Your photograph will be posted in our box office and all staff will be informed accordingly. You will not be sold a ticket or permitted into the theatre or any other paying venues at 44 Long Street. Should you purchase a ticket through Computicket, you will still be prohibited from entering the theatre and you ticket costs will be instantly refunded in cash.

We hope that you seriously take cognisance of this restriction and do not attempt to gain access to any productions.

Please understand this is NOT a PERSONAL attack on you and we do not wish to turn this into a vendetta or strike up a series of communications between us – but is the one positive action that we, as Theatre Practitioners, can take to stop you attending performances at the NewSpace and prevent you from posting your poisonous Blogs on our productions, actors, directors, writers and designers and a way of protecting our source of income from your potentially destructive Blogs.

Personal opinions and the right to freely express one’s self – are always welcome – But we will not tolerate this kind of personal, irresponsible, vindictive and destructive behaviour. It’s high time that we in the industry did something proactive to protect our artists and our livelihood.


Fred Abrahamse – Artistic Director NewSpace Theatre

Marcel Meyer – Associate Director NewSpace Theatre

PS. I think this is the first time an independent somebody has been banned from a theatre! I best not let that power go to Meganshead. Megan


Hilarious, out there (well, in actually) More South African Deep Freezing


This is no stunt


  1. Josh Myers

    Well well well we all would love to get glowing reviews but this goes a bit far doesn’t it. Are we right to assume only people writing fahbulous reviews are to be given the right to see a play? Banned from this theatre? What utter nonsense! I would like to remind the honorable Mr Abrahamse and his sidekick that that if u can’t stand the heat please get out of the kitchen and don’t let the door smack you on the back on your way out. I was quite taken aback to read words like: vindictive, malicious, destructive and poisonous in your letter . What ? You should read the review again dude this time with less preconceived malicous intent yourself. Learn from it, grow and then move on. If you it read with your eyes open you might even see that there’s plenty to cheer for in that review!
    I think the play was fairly judged and critiqued. Balanced review comes to mind.

  2. Tante B


  3. This is utter bull, banned from going to theatre?
    I can not believe this.
    Who do these people think they are.
    I think we should send the box office our pictures so they can ban us as well.

  4. The Saint

    I haven’t seen the play so I cannot comment on its strengths and weaknesses but the letter from Abrahamse and Meyer should not be allowed to stand uncommented on. I write under a pseudonym so let me declare at the outset that [1] my name is Simon Cooper and that [2] I am an associate and friend of Megan Choritz. I am also a fan of her blog where things get told as they are, both good and bad, and where Megan herself is involved, she does seek to hide criticism of her and her productions.
    In the light of the letter above, I re-read the review by Megan and I have the following to say ~
    1. one paragraph of the review is negative, namely that dealing with the performances of Boyd and Jubber – the rest praises what has been done and the performances;
    2. I agree that the review is balanced;
    3. neither the tone nor the content is vicious or vindicative – if you want to read a vicious review of “Dalliances”, try Wilhelm Snyman’s review in the Cape Times headed “BE WARNED : THIS IS NOT SERIOUS THEATRE”. Although the review was quite long, he might just have said “This play is utter shit – don’t go see it under any circumstances” and he is not very complimentary on the gay aspects of the play;
    4. I take it that Abrahamse and Meyer will likewise ban [censor] Snyman from the NewSpace or are they too scared to do this publicly to a member of the press?;
    5. Megan is also castigated for being disloyal to the theatre industry, PANSA and the New Writings Programme. Do Abrahamse and Meyer suggest seriously that because one is part of an organisation or programme, we are not allowed to say that something done by it or under its auspices is wrong or badly done ? [Only political parties can do that !] Assuming that “DALLIANCES” is rubbish, allowing it to go forth uncriticised, can only harm those who promote in the long run;
    6. Bad crits [however hard it is to swallow them] should be used to look at the production and see if perhaps the writer has a point – if he/she does, well use it to improve the piece : if he doesn’t, well ignore it but you have to objective about it;
    7. Megan is also castigated for the language she chooses to use in her blogs. They are said to be “personal ranting and cruel attacks”. All I can say is that I have never found Megan’s comments to be extreme or couched in OTT language. Just the opposite in fact, her comments are well-thought out and reasoned – not always right but not just throw aways;
    8. Abrahamse and Meyer’s reaction smacks to be of something far more personal and rooted in some offence given and taken is the past than an attack on what Megan now writes. As a response the letter is completely out of proportion to the blog article and verges on the hysterical. It is simply unacceptable in any reasonable society.

    What however really takes the breathe away is the banning from the NewSpace complex, the very comprehensive ban put in place with just a touch of smugness and the “ya boo sucks to you” of the primary school playground revenge mechanism. The ban amounts to apartheid-era action to stop the spread of ideas opposed to yours and is no more and no less than an act of censorship in the worst sense.

  5. bobby

    the right to freedom of expression is enshrined in our constitution. many people died in the struggle against a repressive and threatened regime to ensure that we have this right.

    the right does not extend to propaganda for war; incitement of imminent violence; or
    advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.

    at no point has megan done anything other than exercise her right to express herself freely. fair comment is fair comment.

    it is a sad day in our country when people are so threatened by someone’s exercise of this right that they resort to the apartheid era response of banning people and their opinions, because they disagree with them.

    i support the saint’s call that until such time as an apology is offered to megan and the ban is withdrawn, i too will not set foot in the newspace complex. i will also draw all of my friend’s attention to this incident. it is shocking. truly shocking.

  6. Zoe

    I’ll be writing my response in a letter form addressed to Fred and Marcel since everything I have to say is directed at them anyway. Though I doubt whether they’ll return to the site for fear that their delicate constitutions may be forever ruined if they are once again exposed to Megan’s “poison”.

    Dear Fred and Marcel,

    Many of your statements are both untrue and unfounded. Where do you get the idea that Megan is homophobic? From her Dalliances review? Because I have read that review again and again, searching for a sentence or a word that could’ve been perceived as homophobic, but alas, it’s just not there. You use words like “vindictive, malicious and destructive”. Again, where are you getting this underlying meaning from? In fact, after reading the Dalliances review time and time again, I’d say that it’s a positive review.

    She made positive comments about the set, props, writing and two of the performances. The only criticisms she made were about the performances of Clayton Boyd and Stephen Jubber, and since I’ve actually seen the production, I agree with her. Their performances are wooden and substandard – especially next to Daneel van der Walt. Why does it have to be sugar-coated in theatre jargon? Isn’t refreshing bluntness part of the joy of reading a blog? I’m willing to bet that the phrase …their most successful moments were the ones where they said nothing and had their pants down…” crossed the mind of a few other critics, but the fact that they have editors stopped them from penning it.

    Don’t condemn Megan because she has the freedom to say what she thinks. It makes for more entertaining reading. Nothing she says in her reviews that I’ve read can be classified as hate speech, so therefore she has the right to say it, and the right to be heard.

    The second, and far more important point I’d like to make is about the damage that this is doing to the local theatre industry. Not by Megan, who you were so quick to point your fingers at. But by you, and people like you.

    South Africa is a young country, and the theatre industry is even younger. Yes, it is struggling. Yes, South African productions are on the whole not up to the standards of international productions. Not because we lack the talent, but because we lack the resources to reach our potential. And yes, people in the performance arts are finding it increasingly difficult to make a living. Especially with the economic crisis looming.

    While it’s true that performers have rights and need to be protected (this is why organisations like PANSA exist), they do not need to be mommied and coddled by people like you who want to shield them from the harsh world of constructive criticism. And yes, Megan does occasionally get a little personal and maybe make comments based on information that she is privy to, but the majority of what she has to say is constructive and is there to help the people involved in the production, from the actors to directors to the lighting designer.

    When a kid fresh out of high school writes “performance arts” on their university application, they understand what sort of life they’re signing up for: The probability of a life filled with plain noodles for dinner, auditioning for roles they’ll never get, and criticism from theatre critics, like Megan. It’s part of the deal. And you wanting to “protect” your performers from her “poisonous pen” is only doing them more harm. How do you expect the local theatre industry to reach adulthood if you keep babying it? So stop wasting time getting offended on the behalf of others and get to work making the South African theatre industry stronger. Isn’t that your job?

    Viva la Meganshead!

  7. Nicholas Spagnoletti

    What a laughably pathetic letter from the New Space. I was so excited about this new theatre but now am very disappointed if this is going to be management’s attitude. And that homophobia comment is just ludicrous. How immature and petty.

  8. Edward van Kuik

    Hi Megan

    I do believe this letter to be a hoax. It was quite convincing in the beginning, but the bit where they ban you from the New Space is a bit wooden. And at the end when they invite you to publish it in the ps, well that just let the cat out of the bag. Then I re-read your review, and saw that you actually enjoyed Dalliances as I did. (Although Clayton was way too hot, He put me into a trance for most of the play.)

    I have more to say on the great PR, but I have to run, I just won $419,000.


  9. ‘Please understand this is NOT a PERSONAL attack on you, ‘ your attackers say sanctimoniously. Breathtaking hypocrisy.

    No shit? If these aren’t personal attacks, what are they? –

    ‘Your apparent homophobia is quite disturbing in this day and age…. your vindictive, malicious and destructive Blog…. this kind of personal, irresponsible, vindictive and destructive behaviour’.

    I found nothing remotely offensive about your review, Megan. What is highly offensive is the petulant behaviour of your attackers. They defend your right to express your opinions, and then – gasp – ban you from their premises for doing exactly that. Really, they should rather try holding their breaths: it works for most four-year-olds.

  10. Ray

    OK, good joke – pretty funny! Pausing before I chain myself in front of either the NewSpace Theatre, or Artscape’s New Writing Season, I think I’m with Edward on this, and want to believe that it’s all a big publicity scheme cooked up by Abrahamse, Meyer, and Megan to juice a bit of publicity for new writing programme (that Megan has a show at soon) or NewSpace theatre (that opens soon). It has to be, surely?

    Otherwise it just is inconceivable. A personal vendetta that dates back to Jan 2007 and an unfavourable Romeo + Juliet blog? A backlash (on an easier target)at Snyman for his assassination job on Dalliances? Or are the buddies of Charlie Keegan spending a few more hours in an internet cafe?

    Either way, guys – please spell Adrienne Sichel’s name right at least. If blogs and comments are actually entering into the realm of what people take to be serious theatre criticism, then let’s be rigorous. Note to self: spellcheck this reply. Ah, the hell with it. Does it really matter…?!?

  11. megan

    Sorry, Adrienne. Will edit ASAP

  12. HRVSTC

    Hello all

    I am a serious theatre critic. No, really, I’m a very serious theatre critic and I am highly respected for my unassailable objectivity and command of theatre jargon .

    I have spoken to the other members of the Guild of Highly Respected Very Serious Theatre Critics and we have decided (wisely, I’d say) to intervene.

    Once the NewSpace opens, we shall submit our reviews to Megan for her to publish under her name. We’ll take care to use terms like ‘limp-wristed’, ‘poofy’ and ‘bumbastic’. We’ll make nonchalant references to the lovely fire-escape and how amenable the doormen are to R5 bribes.

    I have spoken.

  13. jo

    The NewSpace which launched – loudly – by claiming to represent the values of the original Space Theatre, has now revealed its true nature.
    Didn’t take long did it – curtain not yet up and this happens…

  14. Tante B

    What a delightful contretemps. Just what I needed to lift my doom and gloom mood engendered by the World’s financial and economic crisis.

    As Oscar Wilde said:” In all matters of controversy our adversaries are insane”

  15. Adrian Galley

    I have not seen this particular incarnation of Dalliances, so I really cannot comment on the validity of Megan’s observations. But the writers of the Bounty Note on Megan’s Head concede that neither have they, so clearly the merits or otherwise of the production itself are not at issue here. However, on reading the review in question I can only conclude that it has nothing to do with that either.

    No, I believe that the current spat is no more than an elaborate, though possibly ill-conceived, publicity stunt. The personalities involved are shrewd in their evocation of the culture of intolerance that reigned at the time of the original Space, but this time they have positioned themselves as the status-quo. Brilliant!
    Sadly, I’m afraid the irony will be lost on many, inured as we are these days to the unsophisticated rhetoric of the Julius Malemas of this world.

    On the strength of Megan’s musings, which I found to be positive, I shall be booking to see Dalliances. And I shall be making a large block-booking to see the opening production at the NewSpace. Megan, will you join our party?

  16. megan

    I am afraid I won’t be. This is no publicity stunt, just an ill conceived attack.

  17. Jaqueline Dommisse

    Dear Fred and Marcel

    I am deeply saddened and disappointed. My unqualified anticipation and excitement at the opening of the New Space has been tarnished.

    You must have known and are surely reminded over and over again, that despite your unchallengeable autonomy and right to run your new business venture as you see fit, that trading on the legacy of The Space comes with public expectations and, I’m afraid, certain moral responsibilities.

    Before the doors have even opened, to be making grand gestures of exclusion feels deeply inappropriate to me. If there was one thing that The Space represented to Cape Town and perhaps even the world, it was inclusion. The theatre makers of that time were courageous in the face of criticism – not merely criticism from the pen, but from the very machinery of the Apartheid regime; they faced detention or worse if their “critics” had so decided.

    With the phoenix rising , the theatre community has hoped for something of that rigour and courage. Not just another theatre, but perhaps a platform for rigorous debate and fearless conversation about theatre. As of old: a place of innovation and experimentation; a space for pushing the boundaries, politically and artistically.

    It seems almost fatuous to defend Megan; your accusations are not supported by the review you react to. But I will anyway, not because she needs to be defended but because I’m so cross. Yes I am her friend. I am also a colleague who respects her theatremaking work and an occasional reader of her blog – which I find mostly delicious and entertaining – a good laugh with an incisive, intelligent and individual take on theatre and contemporary life. (I read most of her blog subjects except for the cats and the cricket which bore me – but that’s another thing). And I’m obviously not alone. The fact that Google lists her early and regularly in searches (as you point out) is to do with search engine optimisation about which I understand very little except that to be where she is in the world of blog, her site must get several THOUSAND hits a week.

    I am outraged that Megan might be expected, as an independent artist and commentator, to censor her personal response to theatre based on a perceived “loyalty” to theatre managements and their projects or the ”ideals” of networking associations she might belong to.

    You accuse her of homophobia which I searched for in a re-reading and found none. She discusses the gay theme and refers to a niche audience that is “peppered with pink power” – you’ll find more offensive and risqué references to gay men on main stream telly like Will and Grace for goodness sake! Those of us, who know Megan, know that she is passionate about human rights – she has either marched for or made theatre about almost every human right in the constitution. It’s absurd to accuse her of any kind of -ism or -phobia. Absurd.

    You call her writing “vindictive, malicious and destructive” but in that review she uses phrases like “beautifully styled”; “Phenomenal talent” “extraordinary performance …riveting”. Not exactly ‘vitriolic’ language. Her review of the Frozen Fishwives play posted a few days later is nothing if not a rave. Her response to Adrienne Sichel’s review of her own work is not an attack on the critic, but a heartfelt and expressed ‘eina’.

    I do hope that you will find a way to apologise to Megan and set things right.

    Good luck with your opening production. I look forward to attending and am keen to see the new venue. I hope I will be free to will speak my truth about the work, as I do about all art with which I engage. I have a constitutional right to do so. So does Megan.


  18. Sheesh. If they ban Megan for her review, what are they going to do to Wilhelm Snyman? Put out a contract on his life?

  19. Sceptical

    Ok, so it seems one of two things is happening here – and my money’s on the second:

    1. Fred and Marcel are serious

    2. Fred, Marcel and Megan are on a mission to generate publicity for the NewSpace

    Trouble is, no mater which of these you think is true, the name of the NewSpace is now sullied. And while being told later that “Ha ha! It was all a joke!” may restore it somewhat, it will never be entirely free from this ugliness. I understand that in marketing you have to take risks but I think the NewSpace has just given itself a lot of work in regaining headspace in the minds of the people offended by this dialogue. People taking 5 minutes to respond on a blog doesn’t really constitute a successful marketing campaign.

    And if they are actually serious…well…wouldn’t that be funny!

  20. Sceptical

    Oops. Did I just spell “matter” with only one T?! Shame on me…

  21. Hi Sceptical

    First let me state that I’m Megan’s husband so I’m pretty in the know as it were. This is not a publicity stunt on Megan’s part. The first she became aware of this was when she received the email from Fred and then saw that Marcel had left this letter as a comment. If this is some cheap trick on the part of Fred and Marcel then it’s been performed without Megan’s knowledge or collusion.

    She is assuming that they are being serious as the letter has also been sent out to a number of other people who are part of the local theatre industry. Marianne Thamm, Adrian Galley and Graham Weir are the ones that I’m aware of so far.

    I’ve tried to outline the sequence of events on my blog (click on my name above if you’re interested) as they happened.


  22. The Saint

    Dear Sceptical
    Read Megan’s separate blog above where she says it ain’t no hoax as far as she is concerned. I for one believe her absolutely. If the other 2 are pulling a fast one, then it is almost worse than if they are serious [if one can apply such a word to what they say]. I fear they are serious. The more I think about it the angrier I get. Still they are silent concerning the Snyman review. Come Abrahamse and Meyer – where are you ? Say something ?

  23. Heather Mac

    I returned home (Muizenberg) yesterday from 10 days filled with positivity and hopefulness for Africa and Africans alike. This kind of poisen is so bloody life sapping. Having read the chain of events I am drained and I simply cannot imagine how you must feel Megan. I am right by your side all the way.

  24. Jess

    I am mortified by the content of this email. If Fred Abrahamse and Marcel Meyer are so offended by the reviews and opinions given then why not keep it a private matter and discuss it face to face, there is absolutely no need for this kind of behaviour. The entire thing is in bad taste and gravely unfair. Whether we are involved in the industry or not we all have a right to our own opinion and when a difference of opinion arises deal with it appropriately. This is a blatant attack and it cannot and must not be tolerated.

  25. Biff McDoo


    This is hectic.

    Look, mense, I don’t know any of you. But you should all stop taking yourselves so seriously. Both of you three! (Four if you include Big Whatshisface.)

    I think the following (in no particular order):

    1. Freddie and Marcelliuos are getting a bit hot in the underpants for something they aren’t even a part of (and haven’t even seen!). However, while I can’t help feeling that real artists don’t feel a need to engage critics, they do have one very good point. (See below).

    2. The heady one needs to decide whether she’s an artist or a critic. Unfortunately, the two roles are not compatible. It is inconceivable that someone could publicly critique a show in a project in which that same person also has a show. There are just far too many conflicts of interest there to make anything she says remotely objective in the way one would expect a review to be. Doing so, I’m afraid, only undermines your aspirations as an artist.

    But I love you all. Because love makes the world go around (regardless of whether that love is homosexual or not).


  26. Peter Hayes

    I’ve been out of town and off-line and it’s all been said and the apology is in.
    (and they were lovely butts in DALLIANCES!) (Oh, and I really liked Mr. Jubber’s performance. Before I got home I’d cast him in my mind in a VERY clothes-on role.)
    Not only did Megan stage manage GET HARD, (in my judgement it remains the most radical gay play ever staged in South Africa,) she lived with a (semi/in)famous alt-fag for 4 years. Megan is a LOT of things, homophobic is not one of them.
    Peter Hayes

  27. Coenie

    There are so few opportunities for independantly produced theatre to get reviewed as the press seldom come, especially if the run is short. (I’m excluding shows at the Baxter and Artscape here.) Megan is one of the few people who actually attends most shows in Cape Town, and I know of quite a few performers who have found her reviews useful and quoted her to promote their show further.
    I was just wondering, how many of their peers shows do Marcel and Fred go to watch, even when invited? Word has it, not many. So not so encouraging and nurturing of local actors and theatre then are we?

  28. melinda

    what a load of crap!!! i mean GUYS!( fred and marcell) have u got nothing better to do!!! leave megs to do what the fuck she wants… u do what the fuck you want and just chill! make the theatre work, read , garden, think!!! whatever but let people be to write and think what they like.. other wise I am gonna Smack your little asses!

  29. Jay

    Where’s Pluto Fred ?

  30. Candice van Litsenborgh

    I know I’m coming to this whole thing very late in the day but I find this entire situation so sad and unnecessary. I would simply like to make a plea as a performer. Even though I am currently employed by the NewSpace Theatre and may get into a world of trouble for this, I cannot support Fred and Marcel banning Megan from the NewSpace. My personal reviews of shows are generally far more scathing than Megan’s, so thank goodness I don’t publish them. However, I see no value in calling others to support a friend and colleague by boycotting a theatre – especially a theatre that so desperately needs your support.

    This is my job, and Megan’s, and Marcel’s and Fred’s. We do it because we love it. We write about it, try to protect it (not always in a productive way) and try to promote it because we see the great value in it. Your excitement for the opening of this space may have been dampened by this nastiness, but please – get over it.

    It is soul destroying to perform to an audience half the size of the cast, or have a show cancelled because not a single ticket has been booked for that performance. That is unfortunately the reality of theatre in this country. We can’t afford to be supporting one person by punishing another entirely innocent group.

    I signed on to do a great show in an incredible and historical venue. To find out, on opening night, that this has all been happening behind the scenes and that people actively made a decision to NOT support this venue is absolutely heart breaking.

    Please, don’t let your personal feelings about Fred and Marcel’s letter, or your desire to support Megan keep you away. Make your decision to watch a show on the value of the show itself. And that goes for every venue – not just the NewSpace.

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