11×11: Three Complaining

March was a bit of a win and bit of a loss, but overall I’m leaning to calling it a success.

The month started off a bit crazy at Alexander Upstairs and got progressively more crazy as it went on. In addition to the regular work I got a number of design jobs for people’s National Arts Festival productions. Then there was the BASA/British Council fellowship, which included workshops and a conference in Joburg where I spoke on a panel and pitched for funding.

All of which is to say I have many excuses and they’re not completely unreasonable. Sort of the point of an excuse isn’t it? But I don’t buy them either. I don’t buy that me taking on more than I can handle is a reason not do the thing that I promised myself. Being there for other people is important. So is being there for yourself. Finding the balance is the most important.

This month my writing was a short play for Anthology, opening on Tuesday the 7th (this evening). It’s called Bullet Points and is a classic con story: two characters manipulating each other with layers of tricky deception. The dialogue is full of detours as they chase down the quirky reasoning and get distracted by little things. They’re not very good cons. Or are they?

I also added a lot of new material and substantially rewrote parts of Every Beautiful Thing, my January play. A lot of writing got done in March; enough that I could call it 3 down, not enough that I feel like I deserve a high five.

Lessons:

  • Regularity breeds creativity. Don’t try to squeeze all the juice in snatched moments and odd places; that’s notebook time.
  • Rewriting is an art unto itself, fear and respect it.

Audition Notice

Hello Cape Town,

In the wake of the vicious racially motivated attacks that have shaken and shamed Cape Town my mind has been in turmoil. How do I respond to this, as a white South African male, as a writer, as a Capetonian? How can I re-examine the city? I wrote, returning to reflections and a short story I wrote in 2007 as a springboard to articulate the inchoate feelings in me. The result is the seed for a new production and a collaboration with the brilliant Jason Potgieter.

We’re looking for two male performers between 20 and 40 years for And Other Events (working title). Written by Jon Keevy and adapted and directed for the stage by Jason Potgieter. This is a play about race and rage and the city, performed mainly though voice work so we are looking for strong vocal performers interested in tackling a tough subject.

Details:

  • Email your CV & headshot to productions@jonkeevy.com to schedule an audition. Only by confirmed appointment please. Regretfully we may not be able to see everyone because of time constraints. We also can not do skype or taped auditions.
  • Candidates must prepare a poem of their choice for presentation. Limericks and Haiku excluded. Unless you can make it work.
  • Audition duration is 15 – 20 minutes.
  • This session will be split into solo presentation and working in a pair with another auditioning performer.
  • We are looking for: Strong vocal quality (clarity, projection, energy), varied local accents; ability to evoke and sustain audio-imagery through voice; playfulness and willingness to devise vocal mis-en-scene collaboratively; realistic, goofy, OTT and irreverent sound effects / vocal graphics.
  • Being able to sing in varying styles is a plus.
  • Candidates must be vocally warmed up for the start of the audition. So do your tongue twisters in the car, on the bus or on the train, or on foot – the looks you’ll get are great research.
  • Candidates should bring a hard copy of their CV & headshot.
  • Auditions to be held at the Alexander Bar Upstairs Theatre 76 Strand street CBD
  • Saturday 13th December between 10am – 2pm
  • Successful candidates will be notified by Monday 15th December
  • Performance dates: 10 – 21 February (10 performances, may be extended)
  • Rehearsal period: 17 December – 12 February
  • Remuneration: Rehearsals will be R40per hour. Performance will be 25% of the gross (judging by other Alexander bar shows should be R3000 – R5000)
  • Possible further runs.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, please share with anyone you feel would be interested.

In which some folk had a sneak peek at my new play and I write a press release about it.

On Monday night a full house at Alexander Upstairs got to see a preview of my new play, Get Kraken, as part of Play Things, a monthly platform for artists to showcase new writing, experiments and short performances.

Play Things was started so that artists from different fields could have a space to try out stuff. There always seemed to be events where musician of a specific genre, or comedians, or poets could get together… with Play Things we wanted to stimulate collaboration across art forms. People come and are surprised, whether they’re in the audience or on stage they discover things they wouldn’t ordinarily go looking for. This is the first time I’ve put any of my own work on and I was pretty nervous. But it was also my birthday so by 9pm I was also tipsy (just a little, I swear).

Get Kraken is a tale of high adventure; there are poachers, plucky heroes, ice-cold villains, breath-taking battles and a sea monster bigger than your imagination. All brought to larger-than-life by four actors. No fancy props or cd players making sound effects. Four sweaty actors take the audience under the ocean on the hunt for the greatest catch of all… the KRAKEN!

The response from the audience was fantastic. We shared the night with Tape Hiss and Sparkle, a scene from Oskar Brown’s work-in-progress Berlin was Yesterday, poetry by James Honibal and Black Lung.

Get Kraken will be at the Intimate Theatre, 37 Orange Street, Gardens, Cape Town

16 April to 4 May Tuesdays to Saturdays 8pm

R70 Adults, R50 concessions, R50 parents accompanied by a kid (most suitable for 8 and up)

For bookings and enquiries please email kraken@jonkeevy.com, for more information visit jonkeevy.com

Upstairs Up and Running

So now for the second time in my life I’m running a theatre. It sometimes feels like I’m splashing around in the ocean shouting at people on the beach to stay out because it’s really too cold and not fun at all. I have to admit that at times it wasn’t very fun, like the morning I spent laying cables through the crawlspace above the theatre. At its highest it’s about 1.2m and at its lowest about 80cm and all through it are crossbeams and air vents. The smallest gap I had to get through was about 40cm high. All caked in a thick layer of dust. I emerged filthy and exulted in my accomplishment. Then I realised I’d laid one cables back to front. A part of me died.

But after all the drilling, painting, banging, sawing, hanging, counting, winding, lifting and carrying done by so many people… it’s done.

And I think she* looks fantastic. I’d stack her up against other theatre in town. Sure, she may not have the most seats and the operator’s view isn’t great, but what an audience gets is premium. An intimate experience… only four rows of seating and raked at 30cm. Ten rigged lights with the option of more and a beautiful sound system. A projector rigged up and a screen so we can do movie nights or add multi-media. Space is the only major problem; we’ve got a lot of excess equipment to store.

I think that’s enough of me raving about great the theatre is. I learned a lot doing this, especially about sound equipment, which has always been a weakness. I’ll hopefully get round to posting some informative pieces about that.

We opened on Thursday the 18th with Stuart Lightbody, master of sleight of hand, doing his show Elegant Deceptions; then we have an awesome party with Pants on Fire! talking shit – the audience were struggling to hold their glasses they were laughing so hard.

On Saturday we had Siya Is Your Anarchist. I didn’t know what to expect – he’s very underground and the show was fascinating. Electronica and pop cut with videography and dance. Small audience though so I’m looking forward to having him back so more people get a chance to check him out.

There are so many projects coming into the space that I’m struggling to market them all. I want to shove the flyers into people’s hands and shout, “Everything! See Everything!” but that is definitely very, very rude.

Big love to everyone who helped make this happen…

JK

* Like a ship, a theatre can take you places. And, gendered-language reformers be damned, I think the neutral is grossly inadequate when applied to something you put so much time and care into. Sure I could have gone with ‘He’ and not doing so can be construed as sexist, or at the very least as indicative of the pervasive power of the patriarchy. But I didn’t.

What’s Upstairs?

I’m really excited. And nervous as the gingerbread man at a weight-watchers meeting.

Smack bang in town, where the cafés and clubs of Long Street meet the soaring office blocks, is Alexander Bar. It’s a two story building in that particular old school Cape Town style; you know what I mean – the kind that could hold an airy design studio or a dingy rock club. It’s seated on the corner of Strand and Loop, coolly sipping a martini on the deck as the city rolls by.

It’s Nicholas Spagnoletti and Edward van Kuik’s bar and they’ve created a sophisticated and funky space filled with old-world charm; serving good wine, classic martinis, whiskies, and classic café fare. The bar is filled with playful touches from the décor through to the games available.

The bar opened in 2011 and is now expanding, and there’s nowhere to go but up.

So what’s Upstairs?

Nick and Ed have recruited me as their theatre hustler to manage their new project, Alexander Upstairs. It’s an intimate and simple space. The playing area 3m deep and 5m wide with a 2.8m ceiling. We’re installing 40 raked seats, black surrounds, a projector and screen, lighting and a sound system.

I’m nervous because I’m in charge of a lot of things, I’m nervous because I’ve given my time and love to running a theatre before. I’m excited because I’m working with genuinely awesome people who are really passionate. OK, I know I just dropped two of the most overused adjectives in there, but I really mean it and couldn’t find my thesaurus. Like the whole bar, Nick and Ed bring energy and love of details to the space. Little things that other people gloss over are taken care of instantly. It’s beautiful.

I’ve put together the first two and half weeks of programming and I’m working on the press releases and material to publicise it. We’re launching next month with a party on the 19th October

One of the most interesting things is that we’re not going to run the venue like a traditional theatre. We’re going for a versatile programming model, scheduling performances in up to three slots per day and avoiding  long runs of shows. This means one off performances and recurring weekly and monthly events. For instance we’ve got Brydon Bolton curating a weekly Tuesday night Jazz session and Stuart Lightbody doing a monthly magic show. The space will be perfect for music, stand up, revues, comedy, readings, storytelling, screenings, book launches, nude beat poetry and a bunch of things that haven’t occurred to me yet. If something popped into your head as soon as you started reading this then you should get in touch with me.

upstairs@alexanderbar.co.za