Monday, 31 December 2012

To a resolute New Year!

The well wishing for new year has began already. Its all over facebook and twitter and cell phone messages. Positivity for a new beginning has flooded all forms of communication, and we wish strangers who we see “Happy New Year”.

I think after an entire year we all need it. We need to start the new year on a good note. A positive. Note. A determined note. Whether you are determined not to let the tragedies and hardships of the year transpired follow you into yet another year. Or whether you want to bring the good things with you into the new year we all determined, today, to make it a happy new year. We all know that by the time the weekend rolls around we will have broken some of those well-meant new year’s resolutions, or by tomorrow we’ll be making, probably the most frequently made resolution on New Years Day: I’m never drinking again!

As for me, I’ve started preparing for a good new year. I’m planning websites, patiently battling the errors in the personalized email I’m trying to set up. I’m preparing for the songs I want to write. I’m planning the plays I want to write. I'm preparing for the shows I hope to do with schools (scribbeling in a notebook while sitting in the pool!). I’m dreaming about which theatres I’d like to work in and who I’d like to work with. And I too am setting goals for the new year. And its exciting. And while we are making plans for the new year I like to look back.

A year ago I had no commercial camera experience as an actress. A year ago two small plays entitled SUIKERBOSSIE and KNEES did not exist. I hadn’t performed in As Night Falls. I didn’t have a broken toe taking me into the new year, and I hadn’t set foot in Stagedoor before. I’ve met good, bad and odd people, and been to auditions. And if my car hadn’t been stolen in October I would be driving around in a new car today.

My perspectives have changed, my goals have changed. The way I look at myself has changed. And as we enter another I think we need to find that balance between growing, and still remaining true to ourselves.

Lastly, I’d like to thank everyone for following this blog this year. And I’m resolute that tomorrow we will have a new year. With new experiences, and repeating old mistakes. And, maybe just, I’ll make it!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

The Audition Must Go On!

I have a history with hospital emergency rooms and performance. From the age of fifteen already. For my final physical theatre exam in my Third Year a friend of mine and I performed, what we still consider to be, a really good piece of choreography which the two of us co-created. On our second last performance of the said piece I broke my toe in the first minute or so of the choreography. As this happened without a noticeable fall, stumble or curse of any sort, and probably assuming the look of panic on my face was part of the performance, my partner carried on with the choreography, and so did I. For about another seven minutes. The moment I walked gracefully into the wing, and outside the eye line of the audience I let rip, I thin shocking some of the first year stage hands in the wings. A fireman lift from a stage hand down the stairs of the theatre, and a call to my boyfriend later I found myself in full costume, hair and makeup waiting to be x-rayed. That was two years ago.

Three weeks ago my friend, Mr Gopala Chetty and I were to perform, yet again, the said piece of choreography for a showcase at the institution we were both teaching at. Needless to say we removed the move that had broken my toe before. We were to perform on a cement floor, and the new, fancy wooden floor was to start construction the very next day. After our performance. Once again, in full costume, Mr Chetty and I rehearsed the piece for the performance later that day. I came down out of a lift, in a manner that I shall call, probably unnecessarily, not entirely ideal. Smashing the little toe of my left foot and the knuckles of three of my toes into the soon to be converted cement floor. The two of us watched my toe grow and turn a rather pretty shade of red. I limped back to our offices, determined to change before going back to the exact same emergency room, determined not to be in the exact same costume as two years before.

A doctor confirmed a piece of bone had broken clean off my now purple toe. I was slapped in a moonboot, given enough painkillers to tranquilize an elephant (which bruised my ego slightly) and was told to wear my air-cast for 6 weeks.

Now a week before this incident I received notification for an audition for a musical that was to take place less than a week after my mishap. A musical I really wanted to partake in. My audition slot had already been booked, my backtrack had already been downloaded and my monologue rehearsed when gravity and I collided in a mash of bone and cement. I wasn’t going to take this sitting down. Well, metaphorically anyway. I arrived at my audition, looking the part if you could ignore the large grey moonboot on my foot and the set of crutches which allowed me to move ungracefully from chair to chair. I had also bitten the inside of my cheek open in the fall, and was on antibiotics.

As fate would cruelly have it, the entrance had a particularly high stair, which I had to take in full view of the panel. I lurched down the stairs, smiling as apologetically as my slightly swollen cheek would allow and started my story. I told the panel of my recent injury, but that I was propped up, medicated and there to audition. As the audition was also supposed to consist of a dancing piece, I told the panel that I would understand if they didn’t want me to audition for them, but that I was there none the less, and hopefully my CV would speak for itself considering my dancing skill. Ironically, the aspect of my audition I would be the least worried about. I was commended for my bravery, or perhaps my stupidity by the panel, and was allowed to audition. I sang my song and performed my monologue, under direction of the panel in three different accents, including German, Russian and American. The audition had gone well, they were astounded at how good my American accent was, and I was thanked, strangely sincerely for once, for coming in to audition despite my rather recent injury. After tackling the large stair back up again I was out. My first handicapped audition completed.

Monday, 3 December 2012


For the past two months I have been lecturing drama at a tertiary institution in Johannesburg filling in for the head of department who was off to do a play. When lecturing, even though I lecture in the arts I nonetheless believe in punctuality, and generally showing up for class and handing in assignments. Preferably they day that they are due. Now I imagine the teething process when being transferred to a whole new way of doing things, and a new lecturer for students can at times be jarring.

From my experience teaching acrobatics to little children, kids attempt to push you as far as they can in the beginning, to find out just exactly how far you can be pushed. Test your boundaries to see just to see where exactly the law is laid down. The teething process with drama students required a re-examination of the term ‘boundaries’.

In my first acting class with the students I prepared various exercises for them to do, to make the class slightly more relaxed, and to allow me to see exactly what level they were on. I also desired to create an atmosphere which would foster fantastic collaborative work, and challenge the students as actors. The first student took her shirt off, without reason and entirely unmotivated considering the context of the scene. The next group had some rather explicit sexual references. So much for the atmosphere.

The next day I did improvisations with a group of students. During one of the sessions two of the students were doing some really good work, but work which might be compromising for them if taken out of the context of the classroom. One of the students started recording them on her cellphone. I told her to put the phone away. I was ignored. I then placed my hand in from of her phone and when she wouldn't relinquish I took it out of her hand for the remainder of the scene. At the end of the session I had to explain to the students the importance of acting class being a safe space for experimentation. And two weeks later my car was stolen off campus.

I have found, among other things, that teaching is not exactly my passion. I also realized that while teaching I learned a lot about my craft from a different perspective. I also learned that as a teacher you had better have you P’s and Q’s together. In fact you had better have the entire alphabet at the ready. Because students can be reckless.

A large number of my students did not show up for my classes. And as they did not deem it worth the trouble to either see me, or to find out from their peers if there was anything they needed to do for class. So when the absentee student missed an important deadline I wasn't surprised. I was surprised however when a group of students decided to yell at me because they missed the deadline because they weren't in class. The formal complaint against me might have been upsetting, if they hadn't actually accidentally admitted their guilt in the complaint.