A Week to Talk About

Grahamstown is a week away. Literally. The first performances are Thursday the 28th – that’s Stories of Crime and Passion, the Shadow of Brel, London Road and Owl. That’s a hell of a day. In the fever of preparation it’s been hard to find time to write a meaning post on something significant like research or practical ideas on marketing and producing. Instead of writing it I have to be doing it. A pretty common excuse for artists, but ultimately we need to be writing down our thoughts for them to develop. Art grows when a thought is planted, in the hurly burly of production we have to find time to sit on a park bench and let our minds wander. It’s not that I can’t work under pressure, I can and do, but I can’t think freely under pressure. That stroke of insight, that ‘Ah ha!’ moment, needs space to happen. The gap between the first musing and the flash can be huge, sometimes years can pass before you’re ready to make an idea you had into art. That’s why I keep a notebook; it’s my external memory.

As much as this is fundamental to the personal act of making art, it is also crucial to the practical and social act of making art happen. The Cape Town theatre industry seems to have academic writing hanging around the university libraries and reviews at various points along a popular/critical spectrum. It’s hard to find out how people actually make art happen. It’s pretty much the point of this blog and I’ve been letting that down for the past month. So on the one hand, sorry, and on the other, let’s start a conversation about theatre that doesn’t happen over beer in smoky bars or in a library or a lecture hall. Let’s start talking about what it takes to make art in this country.

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.

At least I can rest on Sundays

It’s a busy time for me as the Yawazzi team embark on several projects  overlapping in a cascade of theatre, effectively keeping me busy every Thursday through Saturday from the launch of Tabula Rasa’s Jam Sessions on the 15th of April. Tape Hiss and Sparkle will kick off on Thursday night, Friday night is Jazz lead by young talent Mr Jephta, Saturday night is opened by solo songster Gabriel Marchand playing a mix of compositions.

Busy, busy, busy.

The following week Godfrey Johnson returns for a 3 night run with his very popular show, Shadow of Brel, on a warm-up for his tour to Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre.

Which brings us to an experiment of quite epic proportions – Two Fold. A collaboration between myself, Sanjin Muftic and Jason Potgieter, Two Fold is a visual theatre feast flirting with the theories of Antonin Artaud. Late at night a single employee is at work in the laundry, unpacking a very strange load. I’ll be cooking up many special effects and making improvised projectors, I’m looking forward to the hands on work. It’ll be running for 2 weeks, Thursday to Saturday.

And then Godfrey Johnson: Stories of Crime and Passion. This project has been a dream of mine for quite some time, Godfrey will be performing songs from diverse musicians, rearranging them to his signature piano style and passionate voice. The line up feature tales of love, murder, starcrossed criminals, passion and revenge from artists like Johnny Cash, Cole Porter, Aerosmith, Kenny Rogers, the Decemberists, Nick Cave, Fiona Apple, Tori Amos and many others. This will also be my first time directing a performance in almost 2 years. Scary.

That’ll bring us to the end of Tabula Rasa’s season, it’ll be focusing on laundry related matters until after the World Cup.  We’ve got some very cool projects being lined up for the second half of the year. more on these later.


Tape Hiss and Sparkle at Tabula Rasa… 15th April

Mr Jephta at Tabula Rasa… 16th April

Gabriel Marchand at Tabula Rasa… 17th April

Shadow of Brel at Tabula Rasa… 22nd, 23rd, 24th April, 8.30 pm

Two Fold at Tablua Rasa… 29th, 30th April, 1st, 6th, 7th, 8th May 8.30pm

Stories of Crime and Passion at Tabula Rasa… 13th, 14th, 15th and 20th, 21st, 22nd May, 7.30pm