Monday, 8 December 2014

48 Hour Film Project Winners!

I want to use this platform to say CONGRATULATIONS to our amazing team for the 48 Hour Film Project!

Our film FLYING HIGH and our team won:

Audio Network (The best use of audio network music)

Best Score

Best Director - Henco J

Runner up for Best Costume

Top 3 for
 Best Script
 Best Use of Character

And over all the Top 4 for Best Film.

Thank you to everyone in the team for all the fun and hard work!

From left to Right:
Nadia Van Den Heever (our editor), Lize Jacobs (Cinematorgraphy), Henco J (Director and writer) and Mathilda Jnr Van Eyssen (Co-Writer and over all assistant)

Pretty up the girl!

I never get to play the “Pretty Girl” role. At my first professional casting the role I was auditioning for was that of the “Pretty Girl”. When I walked in the casting director asked which role I was auditioning for:

“The pretty girl”

“Oh. Ok. I’m not… I’m not saying that you’re not a pretty girl”

I just laughed. She was a lot more awkward than I was. And I did get the call back, although not for the pretty girl role. For another role entirely. Even at University I was always playing the odd roles, the character roles, or the weird ones. Until our second 48 hour film project...

I had done a job with Lize earlier this year. I asked if our team from last year would be taking part in the 48 hour film project again this year.

“I’ve been so busy this last while. We decided we are not taking part this year”

That was until an apparently alcohol infused last minute decision for our team to take part again. Henco J, as he is known professionally sent me an SMS in the week to hear if I would be available to act for them again. Henco won the Jameson First Shot  Short Film Competition earlier this year, and I was excited to work with my friend again. And on Friday evening I got the call:

“So we’re not sure about the details yet. But we will be shooting in a bar. Bring a few costume options for a night out in a classy bar, and bring a few frumpy dresses. I’m not sure about your character yet”

So with freshly washed hair, my whole professional makeup kit, a set of curling tongs, straight irons and half of up cupboard on hangers I was off to our location. Last year as I arrived on location for the 48 Hour Film Project I only knew Henco from doing our masters together, but no one else. This year I felt confident because now I knew the team. And as the rest of the team and my co-actors arrived almost all of them were from Tuks. It was almost like a mini reunion.

As we all had our morning teas and coffees Henco handed out our scripts:

“Chandré, in the script we decided we’re just going to refer to you as ‘Pretty Girl’”

“That’s more than fine with me”

I gave my mom the usual blow-by-blow after the shoot:

“I’m so glad! You’ve always wanted to play the pretty girl! How was it?”

“Honestly? For me it was boring.

And the truth is, playing the odd, crazy characters are a lot more fun.

Henco J, our director, and Sylvia Lume who was our one-woman art department.
Henco J and his sister Lize Jacobs setting up the shot.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Doing it "MiWay"...for the advert at least.

The Visage Family for the MiWay advert shoot. And I see now we all have sort of the same nose.

It doesn’t happen often. But sometimes after an audition I get a feeling. A feeling that something just went the way it was supposed to go. Usually it’s because the casting director laughed at the right place. Or the way they say thank you after the audition. But a few times I’ve gotten that feeling. A month ago was no exception. Especially as the casting brief asked for an Afrikaans girl, specifically. Very specifically. My mom also had this feeling. As did my fiancé. And when I got the call for the call back none of us were surprised.

After the call back though, I did keep my expectations under control. We looked different, but we were both trained well. It all came down to what the director wanted. And the director wanted me.
My fiancé was not surprised when I got the part. Although it is his job to believe in me unwaveringly, especially on the days when I don’t believe in myself all that much.

Two days after my call back I was on set. I was excited to be working with comedian Mpho “Popps” Modikoane and South African actress Marga van Rooy. There was also a familiar face on set. I had worked with Altus Theart two years before while shooting a Coke advert for Super Bowl. During lunch he too asked a question I seem to be answering almost daily: 

"So how's the wedding planning going?"

"We're doing it piece by piece, but I feel like it's all under control. I'm not going to let it stress me out"

"Do you have your dress yet?"


"How long before your wedding?"

"Three months"


"Rian! She thinks her wedding planning is going well but she doesn't have a dress yet"

More laughter. My on-screen big brothers were starting to feel like my real big brothers. Especially as they had decided earlier that I was definitely the milkman's child as Tannie Marga and both of them have blue eyes and I have brown eyes. 

Shooting my point of view

Tannie Marga, as she introduced herself to me, is a well-known face in South African stage and screen.

Tannie Marge was a fantastic source of inspiration. She asked me about my career and my agent:

“I wasn’t one of the favourites when studying. I wasn’t deemed good enough by my lecturers to audition for agents while I was studying, so I had to do it alone.”

She looked at me seriously:

“I think the most important thing to make it in this industry is temperament. Neither I, nor Sandra Prinsloo or Katinka Heyns were of Anna’s favourites”

Marga had also studied at the University of Pretoria, which meant that she knew I knew who Anna Neethlig Pohl was, as Anna was the first head of the drama department there. And the women she mentioned were all critically acclaimed actresses and directors. It felt fantastic to know that it wasn’t just me, others who "made it" had had a tough start too. She then told me about her first stage part:

“In my first professional role as an actress the director said to a colleague 'This child can't act' while I was standing right there. Just keep going, and create your own work.”

During my wardrobe call a joke started about “project cleavage”, as in outfit after outfit the director wanted to see more cleavage. Eventually they found a light pink shirt that the director was happy with. But it was very low cut. Which didn’t really bother me, as long as I had a bra on I didn’t really mind. While we were shooting the really sweet makeup artist went and spoke to the wardrobe lady with great concern:

“They’re showing a lot of cleavage”

“I know”

The wardrobe lady told me with a laugh while fixing me up. And when I did eventually see the advert and paused it I did see some bra.

Nice and Salty...
The premise for the advert is that Mpho is dating my character in order to get cheaper car insurance, hence the ‘instant family’. The family is sitting down for Sunday Lunch, and everyone wants the salt, except Mpho keeps it in his hand while he keeps talking. He then passes the salt on, and the rest of us can salt our food. So every time we did a take we threw salt all over the food on the plates in front of us. By the end of the day the food was crusted with salt. It also became tricky as we were required to eat some of the food after salting it. So we tried to salt only a specific veggie, and then eat another vegetable so as not to get a mouth full of salt every time.

“I feel like I’ve been a-salted” said Rian, one of my fellow actors after a particularly salty bite. And on the last take of the day the director left us rolling so that we were all forced into a salty bite of food while the entire crew giggled behind us before we heard “Cut”. 

It's a hard life on set

Monday, 17 November 2014

-Tda -Tda -Tda TA-DA!

have worked really hard on speech and voice. Probably only comparable to the energy I had to put into science in my last year at school. And I still - tda - tda - tda - tda to make sure my slightly audible lisp doesn't hit the spotlight.

I can still remember the first time I was able to sound the rolling 'R' sound required for my father tongue as a child while sitting in my dad’s car (although both my parents are bilingual they had decided that my mother would speak only English to me and my father on Afrikaans). I can almost as vividly remember the first time I managed to sound an 'S'. What it boiled down to was years of speech therapy as a child, and 2 rounds of swallow therapy as a teenager. Yes, you read correctly. I could not swallow correctly, and had to learn by a speech therapist how to do so. My poor parents spent many an afternoon with little Chandwé (as I said my name) going -tda -tda -tda -tda -tde -tde -tde -tde etc etc etc etc.

Which is why I think my parents were so happy and thankful when I got accepted to study drama

"All that speech therapy as a child, and now you're going to talk for a living"

I even had radio as a subject for a semester while studying, and specialized in emotive voice in performance in my third year. And then while doing my Masters I did a three week intensive voice and body workshop with an amazing facilitator from America. Deborah Kinghorn lead myself (and a few notable other South African actors) through three weeks of Lessac Kinesensic training.

A year ago my would-be and now agent recommended I get my voice onto voicebank. One of the reasons why he signed me was because of how my voice sounded on the phone. But I found the process rather intimidating when I looked it up online. I had to write my own copy for a fictitious brand, make an appointment and go into their big expensive studios to record. Despite having all the right training the thought of going into a professional studio, and paying to have a pro record my own copy scared me a little. In the beginning of the year I attempted to open my account to do just that none the less. But when I had technical problems and it became difficult to create the account I allowed myself to opt out. Easily. I had other things to be done after all. I had my Masters work to do, I had to write a show, and a bundle of other excuses. About a month ago I tried again. And didn't allow myself to just opt out again. It was time to make it work. A few phone calls later, and help from the IT department, I managed to open my account. Three weeks ago I went in and recorded two voice clips in English
My agent had suggested a “sexy sell” voice clip, and I had figured a good corporate one would open up many doors. I did my research and wrote my radio copy for two fictitious brands. A lipstick for the sexy sell and an investment company for the corporate. When I got to the studio the friendly technician who put me completely at ease asked me what I was doing:

“A sexy sell, and a corporate”

“To be honest, our most searched categories are corporate, soft sell and conversational. Usually when copy writers write for a sexy voice they already have someone in mind when they write the copy. I suggest that you do a conversation bit instead”


Perhaps I looked a little like a cartoon deer in headlights. I trusted his opinion, he was the one with the experience, but I had practiced my copy in a specific way. And quite frankly I felt out of my depths sitting in the office with my large printed copy in front of my covered in pencil marks indicating how I would perform it.

“Tell you what, lets record you sexy sell, and then lets just try it in a conversational way”

“Lets do that” I was relieved for the option given to me.

I moved into the studio. Sitting behind the microphone with the headphones on my ears I started to relax. We fixed the levels so that I could hear myself, and so that I could hear the technician. It started to feel familiar. I space in which things were created, and less like an office. I did my corporate recording in a handful of takes.

I heard through my headphones while standing in the studio.

“Let’s try the second clip. Do it in the sexy way like you practiced”

After the first take I heard

“Uhm...Let’s try that sexier”

I did.

“Now do your copy in a lighter, conversational way”

One take.

“I really like that. Come out and listen”

It worked. A lot better than the first pseudo-sexy takes. Two weeks later my agent called with good news.

“You’ve been booked to record an advert for radio. After two weeks on voicebank. Well done”

Monday, 29 September 2014

Positive Payoffs - and God's Timing

Making the choice to work in the arts is a difficult one. Performing or otherwise. And every time I have doubted in the path that I'm following, something has happened to help me "keep the faith".

It all started the Monday evening before I pitched up for an extra taekwondo training, not realising that it was specifically extra sparring training. All the other girls knew this, and had decided not to come. So I was the only girl. I knew that I had an audition on Tuesday, so made sure that my face was protected. Which meant sacrificing an elbow and a foot in the process. Which meant that I headed off to my audition on Tuesday with a swollen foot, a bruised elbow, scratches on my decollate from being assaulted with a bouquet that weekend and a lovely burn on my upper arm from a hot restaurant pan. I was quite literally bruised and battered. But I was there, and enthusiastic. And apparently I was funny. As I finished my audition the casting director laughed and sent me on my way.

By Friday my bruises had darkened, but my burn was receding when my agents name flashed on my phone. Every time my previous agent’s name appeared in a similar manner my heart was in a flutter as he only ever called for a call back or the confirmation of a casting. Any other communication was designated to emails. But my present agent calls often to check in, hear about my availability, or if I’m interested in auditioning for a project. So when my phone rang on Friday morning I was non-plussed:

“You have a call back on Monday evening at 5:45. Can I confirm you?”

They most certainly could.

“Are you still available for the shoot dates on Wednesday and Thursday?”

I most certainly was.

On Monday my agent called again. I needed to be on standby for a wardrobe call the next day at 13:00 in Johannesburg.  Which meant that if and when I was confirmed for the role I needed to be in Johannesburg at 13:00 on Tuesday. I had an appointment with our wedding planner at 14:00 on Tuesday. I decided that I wasn’t going to cancel until I knew. If I didn’t get the part I would want to be busy on Tuesday afternoon, not thinking about the girl who got the part flitting around trying on different costume options for the role. I emailed the wedding planner and let her know that I would let her know once the producer had let me know if I had the role and had to be at wardrobe. She was ok with it.

After a glamorous lunch-time beach-look casting I prepared myself for my farm-girl call back. I arrived half an hour early for my call back, as per usual. And I waited. In the corner sat the girl I was up against for the part. I knew it was her as I had googled her CV when I saw the list for the call backs. We were both wearing the exact same blue colour, and her shirt and my dress had the same neckline. The other four roles were set, and it was just our role left to confirm. We sat on opposite sides of the room, each keeping to ourselves as the rest of the cast filtered into the waiting room. As we had to be a family it was important to see both of us with the rest of the cast before the director decided who they would use. About 45 minutes after our designated time the director and producer walked into the waiting room after having battled with peak hour Johannesburg traffic. The cast and the girl in blue in the corner were called into the audition space as she had been there before me.

“Good luck” I said with a smile. I had decided a long time ago that I would be one of those people that build up the competition. I don’t want to get a role by breaking someone else down. Either I’m good enough and the director wants me, or she’s better for the part and the director wants her. It’s nothing personal, simply the nature of our business. The door had barely closed when I was called in.

“We might as well brief both of you at the same time” the producer said to me as I walked into the space.

And literally three minutes later it was over.
The other girl in blue sat between the members of our screen family and did as we were instructed once. Then we swapped. And we were out.

Before we left we were asked to bring some articles of our own clothes in specific styles to set.
“The production team will make a decision about who the final cast is at 11 tomorrow”
We knew it was just about the two of us, but I was thankful that the producer wasn’t making it any more uncomfortable than what it needed to be.
“We will call you to confirm that roles at 11 tomorrow, and then you need to be at wardrobe at 1”
After waiting for more than an hour it was all over in three minutes. As my fiancé and I drove home I think he heard every iteration in existence of “I think it went well.” And the waiting game was afoot.

On Tuesday at 10:50 I messaged my fiancé:

“In ten minutes I’ll know”

“Are you expecting them to let you know punctually?”


By 11:30 the questions and reassurances were running through my head.

Positive: “I’m sure they’re just late and they will still let me know”

Negative: “But maybe they already decided and you just don’t have the part and they’re not going to let you know”

Positive: “You’re learned in the past that they say they’re going to let you know at a specific time. Then you convince yourself 2 hours after the said time that you don’t have the part. And then they call you”

I am in the lucky position that I have never been turned down for a film role after a call back, and only once for a theatre role.

Negative: “It’s too late. Its 12:00. You can’t make it to wardrobe by 13:00. If they were going to use you they would have let you know so that you could be by wardrobe at 13:00”

I emailed my agent to inform them that I would be late for the wardrobe call, if I was cast for the role.

My fiancé suggested that I pack my bag for wardrobe and go to Centurion. If I didn’t get the role I could make my meeting with the wedding planner in Centurion, and if I did get the role I would be closer to Johannesburg. I should have taken his advice in retrospect.

But in that moment I couldn’t. I couldn’t pack a bag full of costume options and then not get the role. It would crush me to have to pack all the clothes back into my cupboard without having gotten the role and done the work.

At 12:15 I couldn’t hold out anymore. As I picked up cell phone to call my agent, my phone started vibrating in my hand…

“Congratulations Chandré”

Monday, 15 September 2014

Fickle Focus

We all tend to do it. I have spells too, although I try to be upbeat. Sometimes we all focus on the negative and forget all the small, positive things that keep us going. And it shames me to say that I have been doing that for the past few months.

My career hasn’t been going as well as I would have wanted. I try to be pragmatic. I know it takes time, and the kind of career I want is a work in progress. I have a fantastic agent, and I’ve been going to a lot of auditions this year. I just haven’t been getting the parts. My "go-to" student production that I’ve been part of for the last three years has changed and become something new entirely, and I'm not part of it anymore. And although I’m technically still a student my Masters is coming to a close, and I know it’s time for me to move on. I can't be part of it anymore. I need to move on from doing university-driven work. I know this, but it doesn’t make it easier. And while I carry on trying to make a career out of what I do (I’ll focus on making a living later) a lot of the people around me are carrying on with their lives. It’s rarely said in as many words, but I’m often asked how much work I do, if I’m able to look after myself, etc.

And I’ve been focusing on that. I’ve disregarded the fact that I wrote the script and lyrics for a musical, and co-wrote the music. I’ve disregarded the fact that for the last two years I’ve been writing a dissertation, creating new research. Without any provocation, and in my own head, I’ve been worried about my agent not wanting to keep me on his books as I am nearing a year with them. 

I auditioned for an Afrikaans South African Soap Opera two weeks ago. I received feedback from my agent, which rarely happens, that I did not get a call back for the show, but I could be proud of my audition. He signed off the email with:

“Onthou: Aanhouer wen!!” which roughly translates to:

“Remember: Those who persevere win” with a double exclamation. Those three words meant the world to me.

And then I went to a wedding this weekend. I met with people I haven’t seen in more than ten years. People who were surprised about my chosen line of work since last seeing me as a 13 year old, but were sincere when saying that it was a brave move and that I should keep at it.

And then it hit me. Literally.

As all the ‘Single Ladies’ entered the grassy dance floor of the outdoor wedding I was standing in the back row. I looked up and said to my friend next to me:

"We're standing under the umbrealla. There is no way that the bouquet is going to reach us."

As I checked the placement of the large garden umbrella to validate my statement the bouquet decided to prove me wrong by hitting me on the collar bone, drawing blood in the process. A bunch of proteas and fynbos exceeded my expectations. I was thankful that a bridesmaid bouquet was thrown when given the actual bouquet which was much larger.

The Bridesmaid's bouquet which was thrown,
and the much larger Bride's bouquet. Which may
have left me concuss if it was thrown.
So I’m focusing on the positive again. I’m focusing on my amazing parents who are supporting me in my choices. Who, in my Mothers words are “in this” with me. I’m focusing on my amazing fiancé who always tells me never to do a job just for the money and who always asks if what I'm auditioning for is the kind of work that I want to do. I’m focusing on making my own career, and not letting auditions dictate how much work I do, and I’m not letting casting agents define my self-image. I know that God has a plan for me, and things will happen for me in His time. I also know that I can't expect things to happen if I'm not creating opportunities for myself.

I will write, and create, and find ways to make theatre, and dance shows and one day movies. I will practice hard, I will carry on improving my acting, and I will do my voice exercises. And maybe next year I’ll follow my mother and fiancé’s advice and throw away my bathroom scale, which both have been threatening to do. But I will not allow negative thoughts to creep in and over-shadow all the good I have in my life.

My Fiancé posted this photo on facebook the day after my friend's wedding. The caption
he used melted my heart, and reminded me once again how very blessed I am.

Monday, 1 September 2014

All work and long-distance plays

I have a love-hate relationship with eisteddfods. For me eisteddfods are so important for children. It teaches them how to talk in front of people and to be confident. And it also creates theatre audiences for the future. Not to mention adjudication keeps me afloat financially. The long hours, travelling away from home, the cramps I get in my writing arm and hearing the same poem 60 times aren’t that great. The hurt feelings and accusations from parents, and the occasional student, aren’t fun either. So as much as I am thankful to be asked to adjudicate an eisteddfod I am also thankful to come home after one.

This week was not without its exceptions. I started off with the Grade R section. I heard roughly 60 versions of “Everybody says I look like my mother. Everybody says my nose looks like my father. But I just want to look like me.” With the same pattern of inflections, and every second girl stamped her foot on the last line. As the youngest person at the table the girls rarely realize that I am the adjudicator. As one of the girls finished she left the stage somewhere between a fast walk and a controlled run and sat in the chair behind me. Her friend asked in a most admirable stage whisper:

“Where you nervous?”
“Yes! But it was ok”

And so my week and a half worked out ok too. 

Especially as my agent let me know about a possible audition at 12 on Tuesday morning in Johannesburg. I really wanted to do the audition, but I had to start adjudicating at 12 and it was an hour and a half's drive from Joburg to where I had to be. I told my agent that if they were able to see me in the morning I would be able to do the audition. My agent left a voicemail on my phone while I was adjudicating on the Monday afternoon:
“They are able to see you at 10”

I called back in my 10 minute tea break. I was going to need at least half an hour more to make it back in time to be at the school as 11:30 to start at 12:00. My agent was sceptical.
“I’ll let you know if they’re willing to see you at 9:30”

They were. 
So when I got back to the guest house, sans wifi, after 8 that evening I started prepping my monologue from a classic play. I was up at 5:30 to paint my face, assemble a flack outfit out of my pink suitcase wolf done a few buffet eggs and head off to Johannesburg. I arrived at 9 for my 9:30 audition. Waited for half an hour. Auditioned for half an hour (including someone walking into the audition space, and then not leaving after realising an audition was afoot). I was thanked for coming in, and thanked for being so well prepared. I was told by the director that he was glad he had been able to see me. And I left again. 150km back to be just on time to adjudicate another 8 hour session. Understandably I was tired by the time I stumbled back to the car I was driving while away.

My fiancé had insisted that I drive his Volvo while I was away as it was safer. His car also unlocks when you open the door as long as the keys are in your hand, pocket, or handbag and then started without the key. I was more than paranoid about making sure the key was always in my handbag or pocket. As I got to the car I noticed something was between the two front seats. In the dark I couldn’t see exactly what it was but about a dozen scenarios ran through my head. Had I left the key in the car or had someone taken the key from my handbag? Had an angry parent left something in my car? Or a thankful student? 

I knew the key was in my handbag when I packed up to leave the school hall. I decided that I had to open the door. When I did what welcomed me was a silver vase filled with beautiful roses. I honed in on the sticky note attached to the vase and immediately recognized the handwriting. I reversed myself out of the car and started looking around. Just in tine to see my fiancé walked around a corner with the biggest smile and spare keys. The staff leaving the parking lot who were working with me we were concerned not knowing who the man was accosting me and bravely called from a car window to find out if I was ok.

I most definitely was.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Hooded and Miked for a Musical?

Klaus-Louis Jansen van Vuuren, Chandré Bo, Gerrit Scheeprs and Aliza Graham

This past week Music! – The Musical? a new musical written by myself and my friend Mr Gerrit Scheepers debuted at the Krekvars Student Arts Festival. When it comes to staging, musicals contain a whole new set of challenges. Technical challenges I rarely have to deal with when directing and staging straight drama or dance and physical theatre productions. Such as head microphones. With receivers. Head microphones we pay for per production and technical rehearsal and are temperamental at best. For both our technical rehearsals Aliza Graham’s head mic decided to stop working at the beginning of the run. And with a cast of four where three of us never leave the stage there is no opportunity to switch microphones, or to fix anything once we've started the run. Luckily for us she does have a strong voice, and she could still be heard without her mic, but as we started the tech run, sans her microphone, I told her not to push her voice. Save it for the actual show.

Klaus getting Aliza's mic pack in her dress while I'm tuning the guitar before our technical rehearsal

I know no premier runs 100% smoothly. There are always things that need to be fixed after the first run. Something unforeseen. But I do try to plan

For marketing the day of our first show there was an opportunity to perform a 5 minute excerpt of the shows. Also for marketing purposes I had bought 4 hoodies to be printed with the show’s name the Friday before. My planning was sound. We had a rehearsal the morning from 8 to 12 to work in the notes a friend had given from our technical run the weekend before. At 1 I was to fetch the hoodies giving me enough time to go home, shower and get ready to perform the excerpt at 3 and then be ready to move into the theatre at 4:30 to perform at 6. I should have known that something wouldn't go as planned.

During rehearsals we realized that 1: only Gerrit and I would be able to perform the excerpt; and 2 there would also be no place and cabling for a keyboard, so it was either up to the guitar. The songs played with the guitar were all sung by Aliza. The song on the ukulele sung by the entire cast was our only option, so Gerrit and I had to pull it off. The text leading into the song played by the ukulele was performed by Gerrit and Aliza. I wrote the script, so I had an idea of the words. We went through the text and song quickly twice before I was off for the hoodies.

I arrived at the shop just after one to pick up the hoodies. The secretary in the office was not the same lady who had taken my order. I should have known. She went round the back for order and returned empty handed. She made a phone call to her colleague who had taken my order and was now on leave. As she flipped through the order book I saw my sheet.
“Chandré” and “Music! – The Musical?” were written along with the quote and information pertaining to the sizes of the lettering.
I showed it to her. She retreated into the workspace and returned without the hoodies:
“I think your order got lost between the orders”
This made no sense to me “Are these your hoodies?”
She showed me the large plastic bag with the 4 black hoodies inside and the word “MUSIC” written on the back with a black marker.
“Those are my hoodies” I said redundantly.
“When do you need them by?”
I wanted to say NOW
“At the very latest I need them by 2:30” it was 1:30 already. I still had to go home and shower and to my makeup, which as I have written before is challenging.
“It’ll be done by 2:30. Did you email my colleague the image you want on the shirts”
“I gave it to her on a flash drive. She saved the image.”
“Her computer is hanging.”
Excruciating minutes later.
“Oh, here is your image, but it doesn’t want to open. Can you email it to me instead?”
I raced home with her business card in my hand. I fired up my laptop and sent the image to her. I jumped into the shower. As I got dressed I saw the email on my phone with a slightly altered image:
“Would this work for you”
I replied that it would and I wondered how far the printing was by then. I dried myself, painted on a face fit for the stage and ran out of my flat at top speed with sopping wet hair. At 2:35 I walked into their offices again.
“I'll go check if your shirts are ready”
They weren’t. I could feel my soul start to whither. Especially when the technician walked around to the reception area where I was standing. He asked me some or other technical question while holding up a very-much unprinted hoodie. I had no idea what he was asking:
“I need to leave now…with the hoodies”
“Don’t worry Mam, it will only take 10 minutes”
“I have to leave in 5 minutes. I need to perform with these hoodies at 3”
The secretary answered the question and sent him on his way. Then looked at me in a very awkward silence.
“Well, can I pay so long so that I can leave as soon as he is finished?”
“Yes, we can do that”
I wanted to bang my head on her desk. Or perhaps hers.

At quarter to 3 I flew out of their offices with four printed hoodies, and receipt, for which I was offered no discount. And at 3 Gerrit and I were on stage in our hoodies, performing an excerpt which was not our own for marketing purposes. At 10 past 5 Aliza flew into the theatre, after being stuck in traffic with no makeup on. We taped her into her mic and checked her for sound, she did her makeup at top speed and was ready to go on stage as the show started. Her microphone worked.

For two technical rehearsals the rest of our cast had had no microphone problems. The housing station for the head mic taped to my and neck stayed in put on the band of my jeans. During our first show, the mic pack freed itself from the band of my jeans while on stage, taking some of my hair with it as the tape ripped from my neck on its decent. But by some or other miracle it still worked. 

Monday, 7 July 2014

Making... a Musical?

These past few weeks has seen the creation of a new musical…Music! – The Musical? A (hopefully) comedic look at the lives of performing artists, specifically four members of a band who are desperate to make it, or at least pay their rent.

A very good friend of mine from school, Mr Gerrit Scheepers, who is currently busy with Masters degree in music and I sat down over many cups of tea and pages of scribbled pieces of paper to create our new musical. Two years ago we wrote the music for Suikerbossie, and Afrikaans musical made in collaboration with my friend Miss Jesto Marx. At some point much earlier this year we decided to write another musical called Music and that it would be about musicians and performing artists. The opening of entries for the Krêkvars Student Arts Festival provided both the motivation and timeline to force the two of us to get the musical done. So we started writing. A meeting or two later we narrowed down a list of friends who had good voices for singing and acting experience and a few messages and confirmations later we had a cast. Gerrit, the recently married Mrs Aliza Graham, Mr Klaus-Louis Jansen van Vuuren and myself.

 Gerrit and I have learned in the past that when the music doesn’t flow you just can't make it. And sometimes creating new music calls for watching videos on youtube, and definitely calls for cup after cup of tea and coffee and definitely a glass of wine here and there. And when it just doesn’t want to work don’t force it. On the previous musical we had written together for we had sat for about 4 hours one evening really trying. We researched themes, looked up meanings of words and battled to come up with original lyrics or inspiring melodies. Every word I wrote that evening just felt clichéd. Eventually we decided to just get takeaways and watch a movie instead of spending the night working. Two days later when we got together to work on the same song we wrote the whole thing in less than half an hour. Inspiration and creativity is not something that you can hold to a schedule, but unfortunately needs to be held to a deadline.

As per usual, the writing of the music was the easy part. But just as Jesto and I had mulled over the same point in the past we found ourselves once again without a climax. We knew the themes we wanted to explore, we had a general story line, but we didn’t have a climax and ending. And the fact the Klaus would not be able to rehearse for a week and a half before our technical rehearsals made the writing of the script even trickier.  And so commenced the familiar game of “what if….” which tends to work as follows:
The creators of the script which was Jesto and Myself in the past, and in this instance our entire cast are in the rehearsal space. I sit with poised pen and paper and affirm our need for a climax. Then it starts….

“What if someone dies”
“What if the main character ….”
“What if a sub-character…”
“What if we bring in an outside element”

After and hour of this I usually feel like exploding whenever I hear the words "what if?" 

Aliza’s idea of a phone call had already been rolling around in my head a little before she mentioned it. I had thought by then that an outside element would be necessary to bring an emotional climax to the show. The Deus ex Machina as we had learned in a first year theory class about classical Greek theatre. From the circumstances of the play we couldn't go anyway, and nothing could be resolved with an outside force. It took literally a full day before my penny dropped. At was only at our next rehearsal, while awaiting my next cup of tea, that the idea came to me for the climax of the show.

From the left, Mrs Aliza Graham, Mr Klaus-Lous Jansen van Vuuren, Gerrit Scheeprs,
myself, Chandré Bo

We are very proud to be presenting Music! – The Musical? at the Krêkvars Student Arts Festival held at the University of Pretoria. SO…if you happen to be in the area please come in and support our hard work. And click right here to connect to our facebook event for the show!

Monday, 2 June 2014

A touch of Thai

This past Friday I was invited to attend a dance workshop hosted by the Embassy of Thailand at the university. A friend of mine, who still isn’t sure how she ended up becoming the university’s liaison for the event, messaged me and asked if I would like to attend. Previous workshops and screenings held by different embassies at the university have always been informative in the past so decided to join. In spite of being a master’s student, and knowing that very few of the postgraduate students tend to attend to these workshops.

The previous dance workshop I attended was hosted by the Australian Embassy. I had arrived only 2 or 3 three minutes before the workshop’s designated time, but the warm ups had already started.  So I arrived 20minutes early for this workshop, determined not to be in the same position as last time. When I walked into the rehearsal space I was not surprised to see a gaggle of first year drama students. Now, as a 4th year postgraduate student the undergraduate students don’t know me and I don’t know them. And in the drama department this is not taken lightly. In the small department, which I am still slightly part of but mostly in name more than anything else, all the undergraduate and honours students know each other’s names and faces. And they are fiercely territorial about the lawns, which double up as our rehearsal spaces, around the drama department. In fact, they tend to defend these lawns from students of the hard sciences, such as engineers, who tend not to understand why they are rolling around on the grass making odd sounds. They don’t understand that it is part of our studies and we take our rolling around and weird noises rather seriously.

So when I walked into the rehearsal space some of the unfamiliar undergraduates got up awkwardly, expecting the unfamiliar face to be part of the workshop. When I threw my bags in a corner and sat down myself they awkwardly retreated to their early positions, mindful of the perceived predator in their midst.

On the hour, when the workshop was supposed to start I messaged the unwitting liaison, and asked if I had they right date, time and venue. I was assured that all was true, but was informed that the dance troupe from the embassy was late. Very late. Ten minutes later I received a pleading message, asking me to inform the students that the workshop would still be happening and the dance troupe was on their way. We all just had to sit tight a little while longer
“Hi Guys. Tarryn says the people from the Thai embassy are coming, they are just late. So please don’t leave”

The undergrads all knew who Tarryn was, and my knowledge of her, and message via her only served to add to the confusion of my origin. I went and sat outside in the sun again to wait the arrival of the dance troupe.
A Thai dancer, Tarryn-Tanille Prinsloo and myself after the workshop.

More than half an hour after the workshop had been scheduled to start the dance troupe, with all the females in heels, walked into the rehearsal space. Tarryn walked in showing a calm exterior, but when she spoke to me she revealed a slightly frazzled exterior.

“Chandré, I’m actually an introvert. And now I’ve had to small talk for the last hour and a half”

“Who with?”

“The Ambassador”
A photographer, Tarryn-Tanille Prinsloo and the translater from the embassy. All smiles and extrovert personality Tarryn says she saved her in her morning of never-ending small talk.

Monday, 19 May 2014

It's all in the Signs

I have no sense of direction. And many large theatres have large and intricate backstage areas…which are tricky to navigate. Especially if I’m nervous before an audition. More often than not when auditioning your name gets sent to the theatre before the time, so when you arrive at the theatre you names gets ticked off a list, and a member of the theatre staff takes you to the audition venue. And if I’m a touch nervous before said audition I don’t focus on where I’m going, and navigating my way back usually involves multiple wrong turns, and wringing my memory for a clue. Or waiting for a friend to finish their audition and hoping that they know their way about better than I do.

I must say, my audition last Monday was easier to navigate. I was just guided through the first door which leads to the general backstage area from the foyer and was almost expecting someone to walk with me when I saw the first sign…

What followed felt almost like a treasure hunt as I walked from arrowed sign to arrowed sign finding my way to the audition venue. Including the beauty next to the elevator which told me which floor to go to. I was particularly thankful as I had never wondered into this part of the theatre before, and would probably never have found the place if it hadn’t been for the multiple signs. And as per usual, the dancing audition did not fail to amuse me. 
Next to the elevator! Essential to know which
floor you are going too!

Just in case you think you should go up the stairs
It is only at a dancing audition for musical theatre that you’re the odd one out if you aren’t wearing sequenced or leather hot pants and fish-net stockings. With this specific audition we had been pre-selected on our photos and CVs before being notified that we were allowed to audition. It was interesting for me, as I usually know a few of the others at any given audition. Which is why it is good practice never to gossip at an audition because someone will know that person you're talking about. But this time I didn’t know anyone else. At all. Not even vaguely familiar face from somewhere. So with no one about of some authority, and none of the obligatory forms to fill in anywhere to be found I created my own spot on the floor and started warming up gently. No one appeared to be any the wiser as to what was coming, and usually the dancing round is first with musical theatre auditions, so most of the others were also warming up.

While in my corner I heard, what I gathered to be, the reunion of two of the other hopefuls after a lengthy period:

“What are you doing these days?”

A question often asked at these opportunities, in order to find out if someone had succumbed to taking a teaching or office job in order to pay for their habit of auditioning and sporadic jobs in the line of work they had actually trained for. Her reply was curt:


He was shocked. I stifled a laugh while pretending not to hear a conversation happening less than a meter away from me. And what followed was a soap-opera-tell-all tale of her life for the last few months. Including, I kid you not, a cheating boyfriend and a reality show about their lives, airing post-break up. She also claimed that this was one of her first auditions in about three years, as she hadn't needed to audition while dating said boyfriend. Work was offered to her. And so, in the 45 minutes we waited to start the audition I heard the tale of her life post-breakup as she related it to her friend. I didn't really have anywhere else to move to in the semi-cramped quarters during this exchange. And it did feel like a reality TV show.

Thankfully I was able to follow the myriad of signs back to the theatre’s foyer!

Spot the three signs leading me to the audition venue