Archive for the ‘Theatre’ Category

Earlier this year, I saw a production of Alan Ayckbourn’s 2005 play, ‘Improbable Fiction’.  It’s not often that an audience claps during a scene, but apparently the following passage elicited applause every night:

Brevis:  Being on the internet proves absolutely nothing.  I tell you the internet is probably the biggest repository for junk, rubbish and useless information ever known to the human race.  Every lunatic opinion, every crackpot theory …

Clem:  It’s an opportunity for ordinary people to express what they feel.

Brevis:  Exactly.  Ordinary people.  I’m sick to death of ordinary people, you know that?  What do you think makes them ordinary, Clem? They’re ordinary because they don’t have any original opinions of their own.  They don’t have a single interesting thing of any importance to say.  And now we’ve got that bloody internet thing, they’re all saying it.  What’s worse, they’re all talking to each other. Exchanging their batty views.  They’re proliferating, breeding ever fresh lunacies.  And, as a result, the whole world, the whole of civilisation is spiralling down, down, towards the lowest common denominator, till we have people like you, who have never even heard of John Buchan.

And yes, the irony of quoting this piece is not lost on me.


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I feel a bit embarrassed today.

I have no idea what I was doing twenty years ago when Madiba was released from prison.

I do remember that I on 11 February 1990, I was 24, lived in Tableview and drove a 1976 Ford Escort called Sunshine. I don’t think I even knew who Nelson Mandela was. I grew up in an apolitical, irreligious family, and kept those blinkers on until well into my thirties. All I was interested in was boys, parties, getting to work sober and submitting my Unisa assignments on time.

So I looked it up in my diary: It was a Sunday. I had a rehearsal, and my folks came round for a braai, which was apparently very relaxing. Some oke called Ian invited me to Villa Revue.

Villa Revue! Now THAT I remember! It was a scaly club in Maitland which was open on Sunday evenings – unheard of in the old South Africa. Late Final played. Jislaaik, it rocked! Late Final still plays in the Beer Tent at the finish of the Argus Cycle Tour. Which is where, for the last fourteen years, I’ve stood and drunk beer for four hours after spending six hours on a small black saddle.

Oh dear. Just more proof that the more things change the more they stay the same.

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You wish thespians good luck by telling them to break a leg. My favourite version of the origin of the saying is this one: In traditional curtains, the legs of the curtain were constructed from long wooden rods. In the case of many encores, curtains would be lifted and dropped numerous times causing them to ‘break’.

“I wish you much shit” is the Italian version:

In days of yore, patrons arrived at the theatre in horse-drawn carriages. A side effect of horses is, well…shit. So a large audience would result in large piles of shit outside the theatre.

I like.

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Young men are rare in Cape Town, and even more so in amateur theatre.

The play I’m in calls for some hard-to-find items: a Jose Feliciano LP, 1970’s ashtrays and furniture, Pomagne, and, you guessed it, a young man.

I listed these on the front of my script, to remind me to look for them when I get a moment.

This morning I found my script in the kitchen. Under the entry ‘Find Young Man’, a certain Mr Muffin had appended, ‘You should be so lucky’

Does he really think the ‘xxx’ below those words are going to save him?

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January: Decided that being phoned on the beach on 3 January by clients whose VAT payments had bounced, sucked. So I gave up my business. Still a few clinging to the apron strings.

February: Played soccer with Flutts and clare. Still limping.

March: Did my 13th Argus Cycle Tour, marshalled, cycled and handed out medals to thousands of sweaty Two Oceans runners. All great experiences.

April: Built a set and did the lighting for a play.

May: Mr Muffin’s son returned from Italy on a Ducati. Much rejoicing.

June: Spent a day with mort. Still recovering from those chocolate bombs.

July: Discovered Diemersfontein chocolate pinotage and had a haircut.

August: Got the cooties, a granuloma and broke my arm. Dolce and LB came to see the play I directed. Nice quiet month.

September: Mrs Muffinex and her husband came to stay for two weeks. I like her. Really I do!

October: Semisweet and nossie came to Cape Town. More eating.

November: Had my 25th school reunion. Connected with my English teacher, and may be doing something theatrical with him next year.

December: Signed up to do Theory of Literature at Unisa next year, and UCT Summer School Creative Fiction Writing.

Conclusion: More laughter than tears. 8/10

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I know how important praise is. And the psychology behind praise. You’d think I’d be immune.


Yesterday, I was at Artscape giving final touches to the library for My Fair Lady. The director, Ralph Lawson, sees me: “Hi Dusty! What’s a famous director like you doing here, making props?” I spluttered something incoherent.

Aw garn, I said to myself. The man’s a professional director and teacher. It’s his job to praise people, no matter how insignificant. Stop being such a bimbo.

I couldn’t help it. He acknowledged me, a relatively new director, as a director.

It still feels good.

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We had the last two shows on Saturday. The matinee was marred by the rugby. And I’m not even talking about the score.

Fifteen audience members and one of the cast got caught in rugby traffic, delaying the start by ten minutes. No, it wasn’t his Royal Tardiness this time. He saved his grand finale for the 6.15 show. He had invited six people, but had told them it started at 6.45pm. And they arrived late.


We almost reached my ultimate goal: a standing ovation.

Then I looked a bit closer. And remembered that standing ovations from parents don’t count.

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