Tag Archives: performance

#327 ~ 7 Things About Christmas.6 – The Pudding

*Must be read in a dramatic voice*.

Soaked in brandy. Stuffed with raisins. Shaped like an upside down mixing bowl. Too rich for peasants. Covered in cream. You take a ladle, fill it with Christmas brandy, rum, some kind of spirit and hold it, gently over a gas fire.

*Pause. Breathe in the scene, engage the senses, open your eyes and begin again like the true thespian you are who never made it to drama school.*

The heat sets the particles jumping, the lights go off in the kitchen, the living room and finally the dining room. Mother moves the ladle, and pours the contents over the upturned pudding.

*Hear the sound of alcohol slipping from the stainless steel culinary tool and splashing over the fruit cake that has matured for a year. Imagine the sound of the fruity pores opening themselves, inhaling the liquid like the addicts they are, still on the run from Alcoholics Anonymous.*

Quick, snatch a match, strike its head across the packet, place the flame against the pudding et…voila! A flaming blue bonanza. At the edges it flickers into a bright orange, but at its core is a burning ice-cold flame which sears the pudding, consumes the alcohol and adds spunk to the end of your dinner. Yes, the flaming Christmas Pudding. Every year my mum asks if we want it alight.

*Dramatic pause. Cast your eyes around the invisible audience you are performing to. Ignore the whispers that tell you only mad people speak to themselves. Only the mad are truly free!*

We have never said no.

*Now laugh maniacally*

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#276 ~ The Watcher at the Threshold

The Creature at the Door, The Bogeyman, The Presence, however it’s phrased these ominous beings have one thing in common – you can’t see them, but they can see you. We strive and strive to penetrate the darkness that Simon and Garfunkel seek to communicate with, yet it is far too elusive, far too…tricksy…and so we give up. We believe we are alone, no one can see us, no one knows us, no one is aware.

Life, I have come to realise is a performance. We speak to be recognised. As we dress ourselves in the morning, however (un)conscious our decisions are, they are decisions, seeking in their own either explicit or implicit way to elicit a response, an acknowledgement, in the least, a thought process.When that doesn’t happen, the sense of our own perceived insignificance can be overwhelming.

I write to be read. I write to be understood. Deep down in the pride filled holes of my heart I hope someone, somewhere cares about my work. I hope it either makes them laugh (where appropriate), or cry. Makes them think, wonder, be inspired, maybe even impressed. So we seek this affirmation, this recognition.

Social media dictates that we deserve not only to perform surgery on ourselves, but let our friends be trainee doctors and bear witness to us systematically removing our innards and splaying them on the stainless steel theatre tables of the World Wide Web. As we partake in this ritual, we are hoping for some ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ to escape pursed lips. That fervent scribbling salutes our aural faculties as people write down our updates our posts in the memory bank of their minds. That, they might even venture to ask a question, to drop a comment.

Yet in my experience, often this isn’t the case. We perform to an Asian audience. That is to say, we perform to people who may not applaud at every twirl, but watch, critically until the final curtain call before rising from their seats in rapturous applause and screams. The dancer must keep dancing, even if it is to a silent cavern. If they stop mid twirl, then the comments will never fall, the applause will never be born as hands are kept by their sides, maybe in disappointment, or disinterestedness.

Today I realised, one never knows who their audience is. They may never comment, or like, but they may be methodically and systematically reading, watching, a lurking presence that sees you even when you don’t see them.

As they say in theatre, regardless of anything, the show must go on. The performance only ends at that final curtain call.

So dance.

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#258 ~ Ithemba Projects: Day 23

As promised, below is the link to the Ithemba Projects Facebook Page. On it is the video of the Grade 10’s and 11’s reading some of their poetry. It’s been an incredible journey, getting the children to write their own work and perform it. Although I think poetry and performance are a strong part of Zulu culture, writing in another language has been a challenge which they have expertly conquered. Today we worked on rhyme schemes and rhythms, and next week, each of the classes will write and perform a class poem/rap. So watch this space.

For now, enjoy the video and please Like the Ithemba Projects Facebook page. They do incredible work, which this video is a testament to.

With gratitude: Death of the Writer

Click here to watch the poetry video

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#245~ Ithemba Projects: Day 12

Msimude High School ends at 1.30 on a Friday. My English class begins at 2pm. Like most secondary students, 30minutes wait is far too long. Unfortunately, my Grade 11’s didn’t show up to their extra English class, so I’m unable to comment on how their debating went. But my grade 10’s the day before did.

As part of their English lessons I’ve tested their spelling as well as looking at ‘useful’ parts of the English language. Last week they practiced writing formal letters and the art of public speaking. This week they (were supposed to) perform their speeches, working in teams of three which consisted of a Chairperson, Main Speaker and Vote of Thanks. They chose and wrote about their own topics to develop their public speaking skills and their confidence in English.

The quality of their speeches and the questions that were asked from the floor were impressive. Considering English is their second language, they spoke on topics ranging from ‘Creating a brighter future for the youth’, to ‘Why South Africa should host the Olympics.’ Staple arguments on ‘How to prevent the spread of HIV and Aids’, were thoughtfully and passionately discussed, whilst ‘The Importance of Education,’ was compellingly presented.  Having participated in Public Speaking competitions during my time in school, I knew the feeling of nerves, doubt and stage fright, that could easily have swamped them, and therefore I was all the more impressed by their composure.

In the coming week they will be tested on homonyms (words that sound the same but mean different things: their/there, words that are spelt the same but mean different things: watch/watch), as well as writing their own poems.

Prayer for Day 12: Continue to work hard and practice their English. That their English teachers would be committed and find creative ways to teach the subject.

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#182 ~ Performance

The stage is never spotlit. The backdrop is never a black canvas against which you stand out, bringing colour to the opacity of nothingness. The air does not buzz with anticipation.

Seats are half-filled, attentions latch on and off like flies tongues around mounds of dung. The only eyes that look at you are really searching beyond you, through you, to a hidden figure which they hope will fill the stage with an animated vigour of potential. Those eyes are yours. Staring, through the smudged oil stains of a bedroom mirror as you practice your lines, alter your voice, raise and lower your hands in the mock performance of your life, before you enter stage right.

I wonder whether one is a ‘performer’, or actually an individual artisan? If you’ve cultivated a reputation as a singer, then the wire mesh head of a micro-phone does not leer at you, jesting, but smiles expectantly. Yet, when you dare to remove the melody and simply speak the lyrics, it begins to distort itself. The natural body shapes that give a presence to the performance, become ungainly, awkward, mistimed and mis-judged. It almost feels as though someone is daring you to strike out into another field of – performance.

Yet Billy did say that all the world’s a stage, and we are merely players – so taking on a new role shouldn’t seem too dire…

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#132 ~ Hot Chocolate Ideas

When you get an idea, if it’s potent enough, it infects you like a virus which rapidly mutates in order to evade capture, annihilation, the cessation of its existence. Conscious that there are no anti or prebiotics that can alleviate such a situation, wisdom tells you to succumb. As you inhale the froth that licks the sides of your quaint hot-chocolate glass flute and muse about the next year, a squinted eye fixed on the ticking hands of the clock, the cogs start to jar and jut into place, and your mind embraces the fermenting concept.

I’m still struggling to understand my subject, to understand how to analyse, write and express my ideas. Yet, while I regularly moan about it, clutch at my hair, have self-pitying crying sessions and crawl into my bed at 4 a.m after attempting to read enough to present something called an essay, I have learnt to also embrace the parts of my subject I enjoy. Perhaps I’m not yet a critic, but I am creative. What better way to remember what you love than by doing what you love.

So my fiendish hot chocolate friends have infected me with the idea of not only writing a play, but putting on a separate play next year as well as creating, presenting and producing (god willing) my own late-night niche poetry show. To combine Slam-Poetry with Spoken Word, seductive jazz music and international, obscure, marginalised, political, social and just beautiful global poetry. Sounds like a huge task, but that’s a part of English literature I love.

Hopefully the people who give me permission to do this and the training to learn  how  will also be quickly bitten by the creative compulsion mosquito which has expertly impregnated my brain with poetic-malaria compulsion.

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