Archive for the ‘Theater’ Category

Rain in A Dead Man’s Footprints

Saturday, October 29th, 2005


Yesterday I went to the UCT arts library and watched a video of the show for an exam I have next week. Its a piece about a linguistic group of the Western Cape that no longer exists and the German anthropologists who tried to preserve their language and culture in the 1800s. It’s totally amazing, and after writing my long paper about issues of oral and literary traditions, it was unbelievable to see those issues presented on stage. I really recommend looking at the pictures, some of them are really cool.

p.s. Tuesday I leave for a whirlwind trip to Namibia. Just to keep things interesting. There should be some good pictures and stories when I get back.

Gibson Kente and analogous structures

Thursday, October 27th, 2005

Last week I spend the majority of the week writing a paper for my African Studies class about African theatre. In the midst of this process I found myself searching for a word I knew existed but I couldn’t remember. I had this memory of my AP biology textbook in high school that had a picture of a dinosaur and a dolphin which had evolved to fill a similar nitch and so looked almost exactly the same. With some help from my dad over the internet, we tracked down this term. Analogous structures are when two different species evolve similar structures to deal with similar problems. Like wings, or eyes…

I used this term to talk about Commedia del Arte and the work of Gibson Kente in the South African townships. Gibson Kente developed a style now called the township musical, which toured all over South Africa during the 1960′s and 70′s. A vast number of the black artists who are defining South African theatre seemed to have worked with him at some point. He developed a style and pattern for his plays specifically to deal with the challenges and needs of his audiences. His plays were melodrama’s of township life based in African Christian morality. In many ways the similarities between him and Commedia are interesting because it shows the way in which two very different circumstances can result in similar styles. Both needed to support themselves from an audience base of poor or working class people, resulting in the traveling troupes. Kente’s plays were over the top using stylistic acting and stock characters which reflected the experiences of township life. The characters became recognizable to the audience, who would return to see Kente’s shows over and over again. And the use of slapstick comedy just seems to come because everyone likes slapstick comedy! But its important to note, that even if Commedia was developed long before Kente was born, the work that Kente did was still truely innovative and original. And personally I find it hard to believe that Kente had ever heard of Commedia until after the fact.

if your interested, the movie Sarafina! with Woopi Goldberg is modeled after Kente’s style. I haven’t actually watched the whole film, but the parts I’ve seen are really cool. And, the film has some really important big names from South African theatre in it, like John Kani, Mbongeni Ngema, and Miriam Makeba.

Tall Horse in New York

Friday, September 30th, 2005

Can we talk for one second about THIS:

tall horse

I take the pilgrimage of a lifetime to South Africa, and as soon as I get here, the Handspring Puppet Company goes to NEW YORK! This is NOT FAIR! okay… needed to get that out of my system. I’m a little upset. If you happen to be anywhere near New York City, I think you should go to this show. Please, do it.

More info about Tall Horse in New York


ahhhh! tech week!!

Monday, April 18th, 2005

Yesterday I entered into tech week for the show I’m directing. Despite the fact that the show is in a really good place (my actors are wonderful) some how I’m still nervous. And it certainly is taking up a lot of my time this week…. so if there is scanty posting going on this week (unlike every other week?), that is why.

Since I am at a lack for any good stories from tech, instead I will leave you to ponder this line from my show -

Ginger: But I also have the feeling the species doesn’t want us to know it controls us like this, because we think of ourselves as free, you know. We think we have dreams and needs and all, but maybe we just have bodies. But it’s some kind of big secret.

yeah! ponder that!!

rehearsal prep

Monday, March 7th, 2005

I’m going through my notes from my directing class to prep for my rehearsal tonight, and I found this:

“If your hanging out with happy artists than you’ve found a boring lot…. or you’ve probably been drinking too much.”

My notes credit my directing professor with that quote. Probably not exactly what he said, but still made me smile. For years I did theater and I always assumed directors knew exactly what they were doing. I am finally learning that that is bullshit.

“Axis Mundi” or “my leap into performance art”

Monday, February 14th, 2005

This past weekend was the first production I have worked on in the capacity of an actor in three years. I’m not entirely sure what I was thinking when I auditioned (also the first audition I’ve gone to in three years), but it was an amazing project and I’m really glad I did it. And having done it, I seem to have reopened a door I thought I had closed… that is to say, I have another audition on Tuesday.


The piece was called Axis Mundi (a reference to the world tree myth). It was a piece created through compiled text, movement, and different storytelling techniques to discuss the relationship between humanity and the environment. It was a “collaborative piece,” which can mean almost anything you want it to, so feel free to fill in the blanks. Whether or not it was actually performance art or not, I’m unsure. I’m still trying to get a working definition of performance art figured out. But from what I do understand, I’m pretty sure Axis Mundi was performance art.

I don’t think I learned very much about trees, but it was a really educational experience in trying to create a nonconventional piece of performance. Also this semester I am taking performance studies, and I keep coming back to this essay I read by Guillermo Gomez-Pena (a border performance artist). He talks about being at art school in California where,

“In the absense of overt social crisis and political immediacy, most art students were involved in their personal process, a notion foreign to third-world artists, yet so prevalent in the United States at the time.”

It seems a fitting commentary on this project and, moreover, my general experience at school.

Anyway, now that the show is done, hopefully I’ll be updating a little more frequently. Or at least not skipping entire weeks… until the next production week.


Thursday, February 3rd, 2005

Recently I had to sit through the general auditions here as a director. Over 80 people in two days (2 hours the first day, 4 the second roughly) is a little overwhelming. This week I was asked to direct a reading of a student written play. Last night as I was falling asleep and thinking about how I have to cast it now.

I had a dream last night that I was in auditions again. We were in a cave, and even though I was the one trying to cast, everyone else in the room seemed to be running the show (“could you do that line with a southern accent? thanks”). I couldn’t hear anyone’s name, and they were reading sides for Bat Boy the musical. I don’t know ANYTHING about Bat Boy, but everyone kept singing, and I kept thinking “there’s no singing in this reading!”

I think I may have hit on something – I hate auditions.

haiku slamming

Thursday, January 27th, 2005

It has been a long and tiring week. Most of my weeks are long and tiring, but this one has been so in a different way. I am in the cast of a show right now which involves large amount of physical theater work. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, but hadn’t before this. It’s been great, but lately I come home around midnight sore and tired. Even my creative muscle feels tired.

In between this Melanie and I have been engaing in haiku slamming. After a long argument last night about how many syllables were in ‘takes,’ she sent me this today:

note to self: do not
put buttermilk in black tea
as it will curdle.

I think she is winning right now.

24 hour play fest

Saturday, October 9th, 2004

quote of the week:
“Actors need sharks. You need to throw the actors to the sharks, it’s more interesting that way [pause] Yes, Actors need sharks…. with big teeth.” – my directing teacher

I am presently in the middle of a 24 hour play festival. Last night at 7 pm everyone met, and the producers laid out the rules. Each play must include a traffic cone, a crochet mallet, and the line “The titanic sunk, this time on land.” Each play has 2 actors, and should be between 5 and 10 minutes. The set must be made out of rehersal blocks, and the only other props availiable are a dish, fork and glass, a piece of paper and a pen. The writers had till 7am to write their play, at which point we met again, and began rehersals. I’m now on an hour break so my actors can shower/nap/recharge before we do tech at 4pm.

The play I’m doing is a hysterical mock of Training Day, which saddly I haven’t actually seen…. so substitute any police movie in it’s place really. I’ve been having a good time, and officially I think it’s the first thing I’ve directed that going to be shown to an audience really. So I’m excited about that. But now it’s time for me to shower and nap….

ding dong the witch is dead !

Wednesday, August 4th, 2004

Tonight at camp we had our evening performance of the Wizard of Oz. The plays are done in a big tent (like you would have for a wedding in) with no side flaps. The stage is built of wood with a shed on either side, and the audience slopes up the hill. During the show I work the sound and light boards. After spending the last week trying to fix the lighting, which kept blowing circuits, the damn thing finally worked flawlessly tonight.

Tonight was also the first time we had ever run the show in the dark (meaning not blazing daylight). As the sun set behind the tent it got darker and darker, until the blackout after the witch melted (cue fog machine) when it was pitch black. Until all of a sudden I spotted a single firefly blinking across the stage in the dark. It seemed awfully poetic somehow.

Oh, and the kid’s were great too! Well… two more shows tomorrow and then we’re done with the yellow brick road. And on to Bye Bye Birdie !!