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:

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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

Word of the Weekend: Problematic

I missed the final panel of GIPCA’s weekend long symposium Directors and Directing: Playwrights. Kim Kerfoot and I ducked out to grab a carnivore’s lunch. We never came back. We were too busy arguing about the keynote speeches we’d just listened to. We ended up going back to my place to continue the debate over tea and then wine as the day corpsified into night. It ended a weekend of being smart very appropriately.

I skipped the Friday stretch of the programme so I missed the opening addresses by Lara Foot and Mike van Graan, fortunately GIPCA seems to have been recording everything going on so I’ll be able to catch these when the video is uploaded. As for Waiting for the Barbarians, I’ll have to hustle a ticket to it sometime this week (unless they’re uploading that too?). Saturday was a marathon; I arrived at 8.30am and the day ended at 9.45pm after Kragbox at the Arena at the Artscape. Sunday I overslept and only just arrived in time to catch Mark Fleishman delivering the first of the final keynote addresses of the weekend.

Playwrights were supposedly the subject of the symposium, but Director’s and Directing trumped it, with Dramaturgs coming up with regularity too. Last year a question came up over and over: where are the writers? Well, here they are apparently. Satisfied? OK, back to directors.

I found the first panel particularly frustrating. Five writers in turn got up and introduced us to their work. Only Juliet stirred my brain with her 30 thoughts about writing. I think it was because I came to hear about writing, about why there’s a perception that the writers are missing, about who our mentors are meant to be. I came to hear about what it means to be a writer. I came for some real opinions please. Last year I heard Athol Fugard speak about what it meant to be a writer; that moved me, messed with my head a little. That’s what I wanted and what I didn’t get.

Regardless of what I wanted though, I had one major problem with what I got. It wasn’t a big statement, no one presented a fat theory that I felt I needed to deflate. It was in the way people were talking about subjects. Kim disagrees with me about this, but hasn’t convinced me I’m wrong. There was a recurrence of phrases and sentences that equated passivity with action. “Not engaging” became “silencing”, “not using stories” became “denying a right to be heard”. The simply being was to be the obstruction. In a moment of supreme irony that one of the audience members pointed out, Brett Bailey raised a point about the constituency of a panel at a European festival he was presenting work at. The panel was all white European men bar a lone white European woman.

The audience at GIPCA was mostly white. That is a problem. It is not a problem that I was there. Should I do a reversal and frame the non-attendance of black theatre-makers as an active rejection of the academic institution it represents? I could. But it’d probably be better to ask how the event was marketed. We first must make sure people have a choice before we frame their simple absence or presence as statement – or even more problematically, as a unified statement. We tend to frame actions in groups – in masses – but they are the choices of individuals and that act of framing them as an overarching political narrative is worse than silencing or denying the rights, because it does these while it shifts the discourse from the concrete solutions to practical problems of access. The solution to the problems of individuals rest with the decisions we can and some do take as individuals.

Alright, that’s enough of the politics. Here are some quotes and some things I liked in a list (just like Juliet, and Megan, and Gabriella):

1.)    It was more difficult to buy tickets for this from Computicket’s website than it was to buy tickets for my flights to and from Joburg next week.

2.)    “The form demands familiarity” – Juliet Jenkin on playwriting

3.)    “Writing, like dancing, is to expand yourself through space and time” – Juliet Jenkin again

4.)    James Ngcobo on politics and debate: “There’s a place for that – it’s called parliament”

5.)    “Work must be made in a place of joy” – James Ngcobo again (of all the speakers I felt he really loved theatre)

6.)    “The obsession to make the perfect theatre, kills theatre” James on letting go

7.)    Malcolm Purkey described our industry by referring to a documentary that showed chimps and crocodiles so desperate for water that they fought to death, the chimps becoming vicious carnivores.

8.)    “more love or more resources are needed to resolve it” – paraphrasing Malcolm on integration in theatre

9.)    Thando Doni’s merging of performance and music is beautifully done.

10.) Kragbox balances the joys of youth and the fear of a gangster movie perfectly.

11.) “assert order on a maelstrom of language” – Brett Bailey on tackling the text for medEia

How to get a head

Yes, out of all the possible titles I opted for the most obvious pun. Guilty as charged – etcetera, etcetera.

In my slim defense I have been somewhat sort of almost high on the rich aromas of liquid latex and cough syrup; the earthy smell of clay is just layer of the crafty bouquet of my flat right now. What have I been caught up in that my flat should be put through such punishment?

iQonga. Which probably just deepens the mystery, since very few people seem to actually know what iQonga is. In brief it means ‘platform’ in Xhosa, and that’s the goal of the project curated by Handspring’s Jason Potgieter, to give artists working with puppets and in visual theatre a platform to show off their style. Six or so companies and individuals each get to produce a 10 minute piece, once off, with some money and support from Handspring.

I’m lucky because I get to work on two. And I didn’t even get my proposal accepted. Kim Kerfoot (that mysterious cipher of a theatre-maker who produces work all too rarely) and Sanjin Muftic (my Bosnian buddy and long time conspirator) both wanted a slice of the Keevy. So now I’m designing and building for Kim and fully collaborating with Sanjin.

Kim’s piece is called Guillotine and is about [SPOILERS!] a Guillotine. The biggest challenge of this project is the severed heads. Which are also puppets. After a good chat with Janni Younge about the process I dove into a bucket of rapidly hardening plaster of paris. I would be working with materials that were new to me and with clay, which I haven’t seriously played with in years. I’ll put the whole process into a tutorial (including where to buy the good stuff cheap) and post it after iQonga, I promise.

The clay was like coming home to Sunday lunch. I didn’t even know how much I’d missed it. I first made about 10 ‘sketches’ in plasticine and then Kim picked the characters he wanted. I sculpted them full size in clay and cast plaster molds. I messed up a couple of times and ruined one bucket before I nailed the process. I like working alone and at my own pace. I’m a slow learner, but a tenacious one.

So then the latex went in. It smells disgusting. Like ammonia. Like week-old urine.

But when I peeled the dry faces out of the molds I was stunned. I knew it was meant to be an amazing material – I just sort of assumed I’d have to have a few duds before I got the hang of it. It is such an easy material to use, as long as the clay and the plaster have been done right.

They need to painted and dressed, but I’m feeling pretty pleased right now.

Guillotine is on at the Out the Box festial as part of the iQonga line up on the 10th September 2011