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.

Get Kraken!

Kraken Teaser webGet 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!

Get Kraken is next performing at: the Cape Town Fringe 27 September to 5 of October

27 September 2014 15:00
28 September 2014 13:05
29 September 2014 18:00
01 October 2014 13:05
02 October 2014 9:00
03 October 2014 11:00
05 October 2014 11:00

I wrote Get Kraken as part of ASSITEJ SA and The Theatre Arts Admin Collective’s Inspiring a Generation programme, a combination of a mentorship and cultural exchange which I have posted about a couple of times before (Inspiring a Generation, No Really). It’s being performed at various schools around the Cape even gone as far a field as the Garden Route Family Festival in Plett and Knysna. Right now we have one week left at the Intimate Theatre (16th April – 4th May), and it’ll be heading to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in June / July as part of the ASSITEJ family venue.

What sets the play apart from most other family fare is the way Kim Kerfoot and the performers create the world of the story. It’s done in the style of a theatrical comic book without props, set, or costume – the actors, dressed in black t-shirts and pants, use their bodies and voices to zoom in and out, to create special effects and locations from a busy road, the ocean by night, to a submarine or the inside of a whale. Part of going to schools has been giving workshops on this energetic style of performance. The script is also going to form part Shuter & Shooter’s grade 9 English reader next year, an added bonus for schools.

Get Kraken Performance

Reviews So Far:

“Director Kim Kerfoot brings Jon Keevy’s text to life in ways that keep the audience guessing and in stitches. As something of an environmentalist, for me it’s the reasoning behind hunting the Kraken that make this wildly entertaining play stand out among the current theatre on offer in Cape Town.”

– Clifford Graham, the Monday Missile

“Jon Keevy has written a fun and funny script and Kim Kerfoot has directed the cast with vigour and cleverness. I loved it.”

– Megan Furniss, Meganshead.co.za

“Under Kim Kerfoot’s direction this cast bravely goes into a totally different direction to most of what passes for children’s theatre in Cape Town. Instead of sticking to staid, safe fairy tales with bright primary colours and seriously old ways of looking at the world, Get Kraken is a comic-book adventure with references from the now and speech patterns borrowed from TV and film.”

– Theresa Smith, Cape Argus

“I couldn’t stop laughing. All you need is your imagination and you’ll be set for one seriously funny night!”

– Eugene Yiga, Bizcommunity

“The comedic appeal and brilliance of the artists is apparent from the moment they set foot on stage, but it is their imagination that particularly shines in this production. The cast merges vivid miming and idiosyncratic sound effects to create a theatrical tale for the hunt of “Kraken”.  This show without a doubt raises the bar for experimental stage comedy.”

– Benn van der Westhuizen, Whats on in Cape Town

“Keevy has managed to write a script for children which is as entertaining for adults and it is presented in an innovative way – light on embellishment and laden with energy.”

– Tracey Saunders, Cape Times

“Binne ’n driekwartier het jy egter ’n avontuur van epiese proporsies beleef.”

– Marina Griebenow, Die Burger

Get Kraken was first performed at the Intimate Theatre on the 16 April to 4 May

The Get Kraken team:

Owl at the National Arts Festival 2012

The Grahamstown festival costs a lot. It takes up money and time and it soaks up your passion like a wonder-mop. I’m going to run with the mop analogy I think; it has potential. For instance what you get back out depends on how hard and desperately you wring it. I’m not sure how the planning fits in, that might be an aspect that’s important in managing a project like presenting Owl at the NAF but not so much in mopping. There’s a law of diminishing returns that applies to planning for mopping, after an hour of preparation there isn’t much more you can do. Not so with planning a production. The more thought and planning you put in, the better the production will do at festival. I know people with five year plans. Yes, like Stalin – except not, you know, bastardy. I don’t have a five year plan. This time last year I had a one year plan and right now I have two year plan. I’m working my way up.

My plan for Owl was to do a two week run at the Intimate Theatre in February / March and then do it at the NAF as part of the Cape Town Edge and follow that with a run at the Schools Fest. From there we’d get exciting offers to go tour or do a run in Joburg. What I wanted to get out of each phase was different. The Intimate run I wanted to road test the material and get press coverage. This we achieved and we even made a modest profit; it’s easy to make a modest profit when your costs are so low. All this I covered here, in my report on Owl.

But now we get to the new stuff; how did Owl fare at the National Arts Festival? The critical success at the Intimate and the brief run at Kalk Bay Theatre shifted my expectations for Grahamstown. I thought Owl would have some buzz and pick up audiences from word-of-mouth. After all, we had loads of awesome quotes from press folk. But here’s only truth I’ve found in the theatre industry: talent, praise, charm and hard work guarantee nothing. They are necessary – no one gets anywhere without them – but there are no guarantees and you will always wish you had more of those qualities, believing that you could tip the scales just enough.

As it was, Owl was not a success at the festival in one, crucial way: very few people came to see it. It was a success in other ways though; the few people who did see it were the right people, the people who you want to connect with, and consequently Owl was invited to two overseas festivals, Brighton and Prague. Obligatory fist pump, just to show I’m excited. OK, celebrations aside, let’s get to the nuts and bolts of what went wrong and what went right.

First of all, I’m going to repeat that Grahamstown costs quite a bit. It’s not that any, single charge is unreasonable – it’s that there are so many of them to many different organisations. There are your festival costs (registration and venue hire), then there are your travel costs (petrol, accommodation and meal allowances – multiply this by the size of your team), your actual production costs (still mercifully low for Owl) and then your marketing costs (Labelled here as CTE contribution, since that covers the publicist, the posters, etc.) – an area where most people try to save money. By a strange bit of fortune my spending on the Festival, Marketing and Travel areas was more or less evenly divided, which isn’t actually a good thing. There is a rough correlation between the amount of effort and money you spend on marketing so you should always be throwing more into it. Your production values have less of a connection than most people would care to admit and the amount you spend on fringe registration and accommodation don’t connect to your income at all. In fact, since we already had the set and costumes for Owl there was no spending on this area.

Here’s a pie chart. My total costs were just under R15 000 while my income from an average of 22 people per show was just under R10 000. So we made a loss of around R5 000.

But we were saved financially by the Schools Festival, which runs for 5 days directly after the NAF. We applied with all that good press we’d gotten and so were included. The Schools Festival straight out buys the show, pays for your accommodation and S&T, and fills the auditorium with touring school groups. The additional performances increased our costs by only R500 but tripled our income. So, tip for the NAF: try your hardest to get on to the Schools Festival. That means having your press kit up to date and planning so you have some damn good clippings in it.

Where I think I failed was that I didn’t work hard enough to sell Owl to the festival punters. I was stage managing London Road and trying to run the Edge in general (more on the Edge later) as well as popping in on Godfrey Johnson’s two shows – Stories of Crime and Passion and Shadow of Brel. Owl certainly suffered for this. Another oversight is that festivals work differently to runs in Cape Town. The audiences you’re trying to coax in have travelled 800km, they have over 400 shows to choose from and they are away from their social networks – both real and virtual. In their home towns these people are the first wave of audiences, they have their ear to the ground and see a play almost every week. They are the ones who tweet and post on facebook about the must-see shows and they are the ones who listen to the buzz. It’s a situation of the semi-starved going on a binge. You can’t entice them the way you do back home and when they rave they don’t rave to their buddies who don’t often go see shows but might just if the week is looking a bit stagnant. Oh no, they’re raving to other festinos, other theatre-lovers. And most of them already have a pack of tickets booked. The raving has to be so good that they will squeeze in a sixth show on that day or even drop a show they have already paid for.

Your marketing has to be better. You’re competing against local theatre legends. You’re competing against a main programme with amazing international artists. You’re competing against music, beer and a decimated forest of flyers and posters.

My marketing was not good enough. Fortunately Owl didn’t get completely lost and the right people came to see it. Fortunately we were on the Schools Fest. These things aren’t chance, they happened because I worked to make them happen, just as a low audience turn out wasn’t chance either, it was the result of an area where I didn’t work hard enough. Not a mistake I’m going to repeat.

That was Owl Part 2

The Building Blocks of marketing: Identity

I have spoken briefly about why I chose to do the PR myself. Finding myself in that position I still took all the help I could, like good advice and email lists. Marketing your show isn’t a single action or strategy; it’s the creation and management of relationships. That and many other things I’m going to be talking about I first read about on the Mission Paradox blog – an excellent resource of good advice and strategy.

I’m going to go through these marketing topics in successive posts: Identity, Getting Reviewers, Print Campaign, Social Media, the First Week, and the Last Week. This post will cover the first step of any marketing campaign: knowing yourself.

Just who is Jon Keevy? What does he stand for, believe in? I’m not trying to turn Jon Keevy into a brand – I’m trying to distil my own values and make sure they come across clearly. One of the most important for me is honesty. I’m not going to use buzzwords and throw around adjectives – I am going to be direct about the triumphs and problems of working in theatre. I am going to say things I wish people had said to me when I was starting out. This attempt at honesty is about trying to stay humble and recognising that there is always room for improvement. That’s in the production too. It’s in the process. It’s me. Marketing is not lying about who you are; marketing is letting people know who you are.

Having contemplated myself more than usual I moved onto making sure that the information is out there. I registered the domain for my blog so I didn’t have a “dot wordpress” to deal with and I made sure that I kept it updated with content. I tried to stay away from posting straight “when, where” and to make sure who I am came through. This goes for messages on Twitter and Facebook too – social media works when you use it to build a relationship and not when you treat it like an advertising space.

Briony and I then brainstormed, searching for a good tagline for the show. This is the under  10 word ‘hook’ you use to tell people what the show is about. It’s harder to write than the whole play because it needs to convey in a moment the tone and content of the show. We came up with:

“Climbing trees, punching boys, kissing girls”

This went on the posters and as a lead-in to our press-releases. It worked well. It’s serious but not emo. It has some swagger to it, an attitude. And each idea evolves and adds a layer to the image. We tried a lot of very ridiculous lines before we found it. I see many shows squandering their tagline with clichés like: “a sensitive and moving tale”. Others use quotes from a review – a perfectly legit method, sometimes it takes an outsider looking in to understand what a show is really about.

It may even take a sit down with someone else to tell you what you’re really about.

Owl

Olivia arrived in the town with her Dad; she was the new girl, the quiet girl, the weird girl. Then she met Kay, the girl with the scar.

Told in two parts, Owl begins with a new friendship in the heat of the Overberg summer between two ten-year-old girls, and finds them again six years later. It’s an honest picture of growing up different in the middle of nowhere; a story about climbing trees, punching boys and kissing girls. A story about growing up where nothing grows.

Briony Horwitz performs Jon Keevy’s script under his direction with choreography by Fiona Du Plooy and music by Brydon Bolton.

The début run of Owl was from the 21st February to the 2nd March at the Intimate Theatre. It then ran from the 30th April to 5th May at the Kalk Bay Theatre. At the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown it ran from the 28th June to the 7th July as part of the Cape Town Edge. Immediately following this it was part of the Schools Festival from the 10th to the 13th July.

Owl will next be performed as part of the Arts Alive Festival in Joburg from the 6th to the 8th of September and then at the Nieu Bethesda Fest from the 21st to the 23rd September.

For more information call 084 24 98 532 or email owl@jonkeevy.com

Jon Keevy has trouble remembering what sort of bio he should be writing – a writer? A designer? A director? A production manager? Like many people hustling in the theatre industry he has to be more than one of these at any given time and especially for this, his most personal play so far.

So, general facts first: He graduated from UCT in 2007 for the 3rd time with an MA in theatre-making and started making theatre with Bosnian-born director Sanjin Muftic, a long time collaborator on many ill-advised schemes. Together they’ve produced four plays at the National Arts Festival, toured to Rwanda and Knysna, ran an underground theatre until the cops shut it down, created projections for operas directed by Lara Bye and generally kept themselves busy.

Jon fits his writing schedule and his crazy collaborations with people like Jason Potgieter, Kim Kerfoot and Sanjin around pretending to be a stage manager so he can watch firsthand how great directors and writers work. In this way he’s managed to steal ideas and techniques from Lara Bye, Chris Weare, Geoff Hyland, Alan Committie, Peter Krummeck, Mike van Graan and Lara Foot-Newton.

He possesses many strange skills like swordfighting, aikido, latex casting, puppet building and origami.

Briony Horwitz is an incredible and versatile actress. Her theatre experience includes extensive South African tours with children’s theatre productions Rapunzel, Princess and the Pea and Charlotte’s Web. In 2009 she played Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet Unplugged, directed by Anthea Thompson. As a theatre-maker, Briony’s offerings include Spice: Feast and Fable and the Rock Tribute Woman of Rock. She has also been involved in the creation of educational theatre pieces like The Marvelous Adventures of Lex and has facilitated teenagers in developing their own work, notably the Western Cape Department of Sports and Culture funded The Clock is Tikking.

Briony graduated from UCT with a BA in Theatre and Performance in 2006 and was nominated in the Fleur du Cap’s ‘Most Promising Student’ category. She and went straight into co-running the Cape Town collaborative theatre company, The Chameleon Collective for two years. They created imaginative and challenging children’s theatre as well as avant-garde physical pieces. Her film credits include leads in Karoo (Winner of the 2011 SAFTA for ‘Best Short Film’) and Wounded (due to be released in 2012) and plays Zoe Harris in the M-Net soap opera The Wild.

Briony has diverse interests and training in singing, dancing, puppetry and martial arts.

Brydon Bolton has magic. His music is visceral and intricate, driven by an open and giving passion for art. He is a musician, composer and educator, while regularly performing at local and international festivals. He started playing double bass in a small industrial coastal town called Port Elizabeth. He learnt classical technique at an academy from a Yugoslavian cellist and jazz improvisation from the jazz players in the black and coloured townships surrounding PE.

Brydon has performed and recorded with many renowned South African musicians, such as Alex van Heerden, Derek Gripper, Robbie Jansen, Tony Cox and Frank Mallows. He is a regular performer on the Cape Town music scene with various groups, notably Benguela.

Brydon is also a music educator, sound artist, curator of music and sound events, composer of contemporary classical music, and a sound designer for dance and theatre performances. Over the years, he has collaborated with various individuals, including poets, playwrights, dancers and artists.

His work focuses on developing music and sound forms that challenge idiomatic or conventional expressions. This is the third play that he and Jon have worked on together creatively.

Fiona Du Plooy is a choreographer whose evocative visual style, comprehensive movement vocabulary and extensive knowledge of ballet and contemporary dance has been seen in work created for both theatre and television. As well as conceptualising her own work, she has an intuitive ability to respond to the artistic vision of others in a range of disciplines and media; and has collaborated with experimental visual theatre makers as well as mainstream television producers.

Fiona has an incisive wit and an ability to express comic timing and irony in movement, delighting audiences with her choreography in Angels on Horseback, Not the Midnight Mass and I Am Here. This light touch is in sharp contrast to the intellectual rigour and gravitas of her more serious work. Fiona is a UCT Drama Gradate with an Advanced Ballet Diploma and a National Pilates Qualification: she has spent 2 years assisting renowned international choreographer professor Jay Pather, coordinated and taught Movement Studies for 4 years at CAP (Community Arts Project ) and worked as contemporary Dance Teacher in Zama Dance School, Gugulethu.

She now teaches Physical Theatre Movement Technique for performance students at the UCT Drama Department. Fiona operates as a freelance performer and choreographer within the local film, television and corporate theatre industry – a highlight was choreographing the 2010 Castle Lite Ice Ice Baby campaign with Plank Productions.

Currently Fiona is choreographing Viva la Mama , directed by Lara bye, and in March, will be working on BABBEL, the third in Nicola Hanekom ‘ s acclaimed trilogy of site specific Afrikaans works

Gabriella Pinto  is the mighty stage manager of the show. She graduated from UCT in 2011 with a theatre-making degree. This is her first year out in the real world and together with Iman Isaacs she has already put together a company. They’re off to Grahamstown festival with their first professional offering, Eden.

She describes herself in short statements: A Theatre-Maker. A Bibliophile. An Aesthetic Addict. A Chocoholic.

The Blank Slate

In a tearful meeting with Alison I was told that the laundry is closing. Tabula Rasa the theatre is homeless. Tabula Rasa is now just an inventory of equipment and a lot of good memories.

I came back from a month overseas last year and found Sanjin jittery with excitement; through Godfrey Johnson he had made contact with Marcus Hoepler, a German businessman with a space and a desire to fill it with something special.

The first tour of the building was strange – trying to figure out how to transform it from an ironing hall into a theatre. The practical side was to be my baby – and over the weeks leading up to our first show I was climbing up and around rafters laying electrical cable and curtain hooks. It was a challenge to create a setup that could unfold each night and disappear in the morning, but I was pleased with the results.

From the outset we knew that the economics were against us, that even if we had a full capacity every night we’d only get a return of R15 for each hour of our labour. That’s the mathematical reality behind independent productions and the reason why they tend to fail. But we carried on even knowing the grim facts. Maybe we love being creative, maybe we love being independent, maybe we’re just damn stubborn and a little crazy. I’m sure opinions differ. But it wasn’t the lack of money that got us in the end, it was bad luck.

The first trouble began when the 2 owners began to butt heads and tensions escalated until Alison and Marcus parted ways just last month. Yawazzi stayed out of the dispute as best it could, but everyone standing round the pool gets hit with cold water when someone takes a dive. And hot on its heels came the news that the Laundry would be evicted from the building.

Since November of last year we’ve done seven shows at Tabula Rasa. We had a lot of help from Daniel Galloway, Tink and Jon Minster and especially from my parents who loaned us a piano. Tabula Rasa means ‘blank slate’ and this reminds me that theatre can happen anywhere. So keep an eye on this space for a show on a boat, in a factory, a field, a ruin or on the back of a truck. Cheers, JK

Twofold Folds

Today Yawazzi was in the Argus – the subject of a large, generous article on our upcoming project, Twofold. So it is very bitter to have to announce the cancellation of this project on the very same day.

Events overtook us and we came to a point where we could either go ahead with the show and have it be less than it should be, less than we are capable of, or we could cancel it. We feel passionately about the production, it’s a dream and a goal to do it. Which is precisely why we could not go forward with it as a substandard piece. We refuse to compromise on the grail.

Fortunately the cancellation of the project does not mean that we’ve wasted all our time. In fact the process so far has been invigorating for me. The flat is cluttered right now with salvaged electronics and pieces of machinery. I’ve been self-studying to bring myself up to speed on all the wonderful and crazy possibilities of the junk we throw out everyday.

It was a hard decision to make, especially for Sanjin whose passion and drive to get work out there is incredible. All the people in this production are involved in multiple other projects. For myself, I’m going to be using the time to work on Stories of Crime and Passion, which opens in 2 weeks.

We made a hard choice about this project, but I know that we made the right one.