Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Fires on Table Mountain

Saturday, January 28th, 2006

This past week there were huge fires on the mountain in Cape Town. Sitting in the kitchen in my new place suddenly the tone changed and the house was flooded with red light. Getting up to look out the window the sun was covered in smoke.

From the upstairs window you can see Devils Peak.

smoke skyline

And from downstairs, the smoke blowing across the afternoon sun.

smoke sun

South African Groceries

Tuesday, January 10th, 2006

I’m back in Cape Town now after almost two months of travel (more on that when I get my act together). Traveling elsewhere in Southern Africa has made it really striking the things you can get in South Africa that you can’t elsewhere. This is a tribute to some of my favorite food products in South Africa.


Generally speaking, I love how fresh the food here is. Vegatables in the grocery store have actual dirt on them. These eggs have a real feather on them!! Meaning they actually had contact with a chicken! I think thats really wonderful.


For those days when your beer is just too feminine, Black Label has solved the problem my bringing you the MAN SIZED BEER! Don’t settle for less!

Blackcat PeanutButter

And lastly (for today at least) is Black Cat Peanut Butter. I think I buy it mostly because I think the label is cute. But since theres only one other kind of peanut butter in the grocery store, it doesn’t make that much difference. At first I thought maybe this brand was a distant shout out to the Black Panthers of the Black Power Movement… on further reflection I think that is very unlikely, but it still makes me think of that.


Tuesday, November 8th, 2005

dune 45

Last week I took a couple days to go to Namibia. Amazing trip. I found the landscape of Namibia really thought provoking. It made me realize that the majority of the world live in places that I consider “the middle of nowhere” and really, the fact that I have lived in urban centers my whole life is strange in a global sense. It also made me want to explore the Namibian independence struggle. All of the colonialism schemes and independence struggles I’m familiar with have a really big focus on urban centers, which are rare in Namibia – there seems to only be one. Namibia was for a very long time a protectorate of South Africa, which also makes their history an interesting one. I can’t really imagine what it would be like to live in a place like that, or even what it would be like to try and think about the economy of a country with no urban centers and almost no farmable land. Very thought provoking.

It was a wonderful trip, and I would go back in a heartbeat. I was sad to return to Cape Town where it was chilly… they keep saying its going to be summer, but I feel I’ve been mislead. (but I shouldn’t complain, I went swimming today, and I’m wearing flipflops).

the “kodak factory” version of the trip

I don’t like Exams.

Friday, October 21st, 2005

Please excuse this brief relaxing of my rule about not whining on my blog.

Its a beautiful day out there, and I am stuck in the library for the fourth day in a row. It makes me sad.

But on the flip side, I think I’m writing a really interesting paper on the concept of orature in African Theatre. It includes a section on the value of creating theatre the oral form rather than in literary form. If nothing else, I think it makes me sounds smart.

books I’ve been reading

Friday, October 14th, 2005

I’ve been consuming the contents of the library with an almost frightening passion. Every now and then I just wander into the Arts library and come out with at least two books to read. Here’s some of the ones that I’ve really enjoyed:

Theatre and Cultural Struggle in South Africa by Robert Kavanagh
this is a Marxist analysis of theatre in South Africa written in the 1980′s. Really interesting slant on stuff I have been reading about in other places.

Making People’s Theatre also by Robert Kavanagh
a hands on ‘how to’ theatre book, only Marxist. And with an African slant. Really fun. Has sections like ‘how to run a democratic rehearsal’

The new Radical theatre notebook by Arthur Sainer.
this was my concession to my interests in American theatre. Its a big fat book on the theatre of the 1960′s and 70′s. It was fun to read…. lots of conversations about sex and death. Oh, and a mention of John Dillon, my dept. head back in the states. Some of these people were kind of nuts, but as one of my professors said, you have to understand the legacy you live with. And I do think that these people are part of the legacy I live with – people like Bread and Puppet and the SanFransico Mime Troupe.

Towards the Poor Theatre
AH! Grotowski!! okay, I had to read at some point, why not now, right?

Community Theatre: Global Perspectives by Eugene van Erven
This was for a class, but its really good. I totally recommend it. I particularly enjoyed the section on a women’s theatre group in rural Kenya. That gave me a lot to think about.

okay, thats all for now. Maybe more of my reading list later.

Mother Tongue Project

Friday, October 14th, 2005


I’m starting to prepare for my exams, which is a strange concept for me. I haven’t taken a real exam since the AP Calculus test my senior year of high school. Once of my exams requires me to write a prepared essay about two pieces of South African theater, one before 1994 and one after 1994. For that I’m doing some work on the Mother Tongue Project. This is a really interesting women’s theatre collective group, and their work is amazing. The woman who created Spice Root, which I wrote about before, is one of the founder members.

The piece I’m working on for my exam – half of it took place in two taxi vans. The audience members were piled in, unaware that this was part of the show, and actors in the vans with them would begin to talk, tell stories, and argue with this captive audience in the moving vehicle. Its a totally amazing idea. When we were told in lecture that there were 3 hours of raw video footage of the show I almost flipped my lid. So, on of my plans for next week is to go watch it. All of it!

my desk

Friday, September 23rd, 2005

desk 9/22

I don’t think this photo really captures the disaster that is my desk right now. I was trying to write an essay on a community theatre organization that I’ve been volunteering with. I keep piling notes and cups of tea on top of sketches and scattered pieces of cardboard from my puppets. You’d think it would be easier to just clean up, but that doesn’t seem to be the way my brain works.

Later the disaster got worse. I wanted to make something to send to a friend of mine who sent me a card this week. What I thought would be a quick project got a little out of hand.

watching rain

I think this is partly inspired by the Artist’s Trading Cards that my mom has gotten into, and the other part inspired by the Cape Town rain.

a new Shadow piece to work on

Friday, September 23rd, 2005

When I went to Johannesburg I wrote a whole lot about my reactions to the Soweto student uprising. I had a lot of really strong reactions to the even when I first learned about it in my South African politics class, but being in Soweto and going to the Hector Pieterson Museum (named for the 13 year old boy who was the first to die on the day on the uprising) brought back all of those feelings with more strength. So I’ve started to process those ideas with a lot of free writing, sketches and the beginnings of some shadow puppets.


This one is meant to be me… use your imagination.

A critical part of the story as I was first told it was about how the police threw a canister of tear gas at the children who were marching in the streets, and the wind blew the gas back in their faces. Confused, the police then opened fire on the students. I’m not sure if that story is entirely accurate, but its how I first heard it.

This is the tear gas canister closed and open.

canisteropen canister closed

And this is the wind.


I want to do some stuff with an overhead projector and photographs, but that will come later.

post script

Saturday, September 17th, 2005

Yes, very good point, I should post a link to my PICTURES. Those are some more pictures from my spring break trip. They feature pretty views from the train, Soweto, and more animals.

“where have you been? “

Friday, September 9th, 2005

I’m sure some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting at all for a while. The combination being back at school and having much more limited access to the internet has made posting harder. That certainly doesn’t mean things aren’t happening!

We just had out spring break (or as I’ve been calling it Spring Break 2005, TAKE TWO!). And I went to Johannesburg with my friend Stephanie. We took the train up there (a 26 hour ride), which was really fun. Met some crazy people on the train. After doing some of the touristy stuff in Johannesburg (which for me included going to visit the Market Theatre!) we decided to get out of the city to try and go to a national park to see all those African animals I’ve been told I’m supposed to see. We found a hostel that was “near” the national part (Pilannesberg) that we wanted to go to. Its a small national park in an extinct volcano. We took the bus out to Rustenburg, a town which exists because of the platinum mine nearby. When we go off the bus at a gas station at the corner of Mandela Road and Pres. Mbeki Drive, it was abundantly clear that tourists don’t hang out in Rustenburg very often. I have never been stared at so much. Eventually our ride showed up, and turned out to be a pickup truck (called a baakie in Afrikaans). So Stephanie and I piled into the back of the pickup truck for what we thought would be a short ride. When I just said I had never been stared at so much in my life, that moment now gets second prize to the stares we got in the back of the truck. Apparently white girls don’t ride in the back of baakies. All the black people we passed laughed at us, and all the white people looked horrified. Then, 45 minutes later down the gravel roads, we arrive at the hostel, where we were the only people besides the family. It was wonderful!

The next day we managed to get to the park (a whole adventure on how we go there, but I can tell that some other time).


The whole experience I kept thinking it felt like I was in the Lion King. I just finished writing a paper about Disney and they’re portrayal of other cultures, so I mean this with all the implications. This is Africa with no people, only animals and beautiful views. No conflict, on the comfy seats of your own car. I had a great time, and the animals and land was amazing, but it was a little surreal to realize that this is what so many people mean by seeing the “real Africa.” But all that self-reflective academic-ness out of the way, it was a great time. All together, the side trip to Rustenburg was my favorite part of the week.