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.

The Fugard Theatre

From the outside the Fugard looks like a church that the city has grown up around. The other buildings are tightly packed around it and loom a little over it, giving its stone façade an out of place feeling that captures the magic of the whole place. It feels like a old and trusted place, rather than the new kid on the block in the little theatre world of Cape Town.

On these grey winter days that feeling is even more powerful as you walk into the foyer. The yellow wood warms up the interior and sets off the exposed old brick and concrete. The designer perfectly balanced hard and soft, cold and warm to create a welcoming and stylish space.

But what really make this place special is that this quality, this style and care is everywhere. From the dressing rooms to the operating booth, the rehearsal room to the bath rooms. This is a theatre as much for the people who make theatre as the patrons. Mark and Manny have built a home. Everyone of the staff who I’ve met there is amazing, welcoming and energised. They have a family feeling about them.

Bringing London Road into such a space is such a pleasure. The play itself is so centred on connection and bonding that it feels like it just wouldn’t work in one of the dinosaur theatres squatting around Cape Town.

Technically the theatre is also top notch with an extensive rig and an advanced lighting board. All the conveniences and technological essentials have been built into the auditorium. Although I must confess that as an operator I love being out in the auditorium and working analogue sliders. That’s my style, hearing and seeing from the audience’s perspective and adjusting levels and timing to the little changes in performance.

I’m sorry that I’m only going to be here for the week, Tara Notcutt will take over from next week. But on the upside Lara Bye has been very understanding about my commitments. Next week Yawazzi opens Twofold at Tabula Rasa. This is a very exciting project for the team and everyone is nervous – it’s a big project with a lot of elements. But we’re ready to pull it out of the hat. Magically speaking, of course.