Countdown to iQonga

I’m living on avocados and toast. Also coca-cola. My flat is a spectacular mess, covered in rogue glue sticks, peelings of latex and foam chips. My kitchen counter is an electronics chop shop. My neighbours think I’m building an android. One caught me dancing around dressed as a demonic crow. It’s these awkward balconies that face each other – honestly, who designs buildings like this?

This morning I was elbow deep in the guillotine, trying to get its winch working. These projects have forced me to learn more than I’m comfortable with – latex molding, carpentry, compromise. I sat down and thought about all the skills I’ve learned and how generally I never get to use them again. That’ll change in the coming year. Although I’m borderline broke right now I have work lined up into January with London Road and a little something at the Baxter – between this and the piles of funding applications I’m filling out I’ll be able to do some juicy projects of my own.

Because if there’s one thing about iQonga I hate it’s that it’s once off. It’s an interesting and much needed platform for independent artists in Cape Town and hopefully the work will live again after Saturday, but we work in an uncertain industry in an uncertain time. Often our work gets one shot. It probably doesn’t help that I’m easily distracted by new styles and ideas and that I love so many different media. But I’m OK with that, it’s one of the elements that set theatre apart, it’s ephemeral: for it to live – for it to spread – it has to be reinterpreted constantly.

I’m going a little off track here but –

Theatre is paradoxically accessible and exclusive. Exclusivity as a concept is generally anathema to theatremakers so we tend to down play it, but exclusivity is also the foundation social and cultural groups and we acknowledge this when we talk about target markets. It is accessible because it can be made anywhere for anyone by anyone, it’s limited by imagination. But it will always be exclusive because there is a limit to how many people can see it. Damn you Time and Space!

In marketing terms we have something that could be framed as a negative or a positive: it’s difficult to see or it’s a rare experience. People want to feel special. Too often people trying to sell their show frame the exclusivity as something to overcome, “It’s worth the effort” – instead of emulating the slick marketing of a music event, “One night only – don’t miss out”. Same idea, different frames.

What was I saying before?

Right, messy flat, mad skillz, own projects, etc.

Right. Exactly. Tonight I’m rethinking the multimedia. Although a more honest statement would be that I’m stopping thinking about it, I’m doing it, realising my bad assumptions and doing something else that works.

Sanjin and Amy just walked in. They have declared me mad. But they seem happy.

So… iQonga, Saturday 10th September, The Little Theatre.

1 night.

6 short pieces by some of the hottest theatre talent in Cape Town.

Book via Computicket because seats are limited and you don’t want to be hearing about how great it was over Twitter.

Ink Black Water

I can get carried away when describing what I see happening on the stage inside my head. I’m used to the concerned and slightly confused faces I sometimes get and I’m excited by the intrigued and engaged faces I get. What I’m getting when I describe Ink Black Water are the extremes: utter smile-and-back-away or pure wonder. The next question is always the same: How? And my answer is to whip out a notebook or grab a napkin and draw diagrams that no one understands. Except me, of course – I have faith in myself.

Ink Black Water is the collaboration between Sanjin Muftic and me for the iQonga platform at Out the Box (for more on my involvement click HERE). I’ll be building on the techniques we first explored with Under the Stars, Above the Tree in 2008 and then developed with Crowsong earlier this year. Just your typical light table, multiple projector and lamp with shadows and ink set up; also some interesting new experiments with different fluids and a couple of unlikely mechanisms. But all that is slightly lower on the priority list than the fish puppets – and the crows, can’t forget the crows. These are carved out of foam, meaning that my flat requires constant sweeping – the tiny scraps of foam are more tenacious explorers and spreaders than the 17th century Spaniards.

The piece is a dream; of floods, of deserts, of birds, beasts and fish; of crumbling cities and shaking ground. It’s about loss and longing – maybe not for the thing itself, but for the traces of it, the memories you should have. Sanjin and I decided to approach it visually (similarly to how Jason and I worked out Crowsong) and so I’ve been creating storyboards to capture the action – omitting the manipulators at this point, and also the multimedia – mostly because I’m a bit overwhelmed to create that detailed a storyboard (it’s a bugger to draw text layered over cracks and silhouettes of towering heaps of books behind a school of fish playing with a submerged performer).

Most exciting for me though is the chance to work with an old collaborator, the incredible Brydon Bolton. He did the music for my master’s final production (together with Niklas Zimmer) and for Under the Stars. It’s been way too long since then. His compositions are awesome, dark and layered, perfect for the surreal dreamscape.

I’m really excited and damn nervous that my work will be seen up on the Little Theatre’s stage. It seems like a step down from the Artscape Opera House where we did projections for the Flying Dutchman in January, but this piece is much, much more personal.

Ink Black Water is on at the Out the Box festival as part of the iQonga line up on the 10th September 2011. Bookings are open on Computicket.