Thursday, February 18, 2010
Some things in life you need to do alone. This was not one of those things. There were long lonely hours on occasion, grappling ideas early hours of the morning. But most of the time I had someone holding my hand or kicking my ass when I needed it most. A week ago today I opened my show LITTLE POOF! And I feel that I cannot even really refer to it as something that is mine when there have been so many other hands and voices involved in its creation. Like my show I feel I have experienced a great opening. But let me share some of the days and weeks building up to last Wednesday:
There was a brick where my stomach should’ve been and because the brick took up so much space there was hardly any room for one of my favourite things on earth; food. I constantly had to talk nicely to myself and ease myself down to a mild panic. At times I felt like I was gripping the reigns of a bucking wild horse that wanted to cause me more harm than mistaking my finger for a carrot. This horse kicked and flailed and although it wasn’t really a talking horse its eyes said: “Who do you think you are? How dare you do this to me?” I have no idea how I managed to break that particular horse in. I was struggling to sleep and soon the days were beginning to take on a sheeny haze like I was staring at everything with my head on the floor watching the hot tarmac warp everything above it. Deep breaths…deep breaths....Oh my God! What the hell was I thinking!! Just me, Cath and a piano! I had nowhere to hide, for an hour, so up close and personal. All these analytical eyes at arm’s reach.
I borrowed a chunk of money from my beloved, benevolent little brother and proceeded to chew my pillow with the back of my head for weeks worrying that the show would not earn enough to pay him back. What if everyone hates it? What if it’s only funny to me? After taking a month off writing to do Sponge Bob the musical I returned to a script that suddenly seemed juvenile, bland and completely inadequate. My other internal organs began to chew on the brick. Then the firm guidance and warm sunshine of my director Neels Clasen and the constant earthy support and litres of tea from my musical director Cathrine Hopkins lifted me under my arms as though I were a child on the floor and things began to take shape. I evolved slowly from fear to faith, then from faith to confidence and then from confidence to sheer excitement to share what we had made with an audience.
Zietsies is an amazing venue and once we moved in there for the last week of rehearsals the fantastic view over Johannesburg helped give me a visual of what it was I was trying to do. I was announcing: “Hi Joburg, look at me! I love you! If you gimme a break you may just grow to love me too.”
Elzabe (the owner and a powerful and accomplished performer in her own right) and her sister Retha were warm and helpful from the start and I hope to keep them both in my life beyond this production. Before the show high on adrenaline Cath and I have bent poor Retha’s ear off many times and she smiles warmly and goes about her sewing and arranging things for the venue. It’s a cabaret space and a guesthouse but mostly it’s a home. Some nights there is extra food and Cath and I are in our element. The food is so good it even dissolves stubborn bricks!
Finally opening night emerged like a great white fin in a paddle pool and after all the stress and fear I was now just eager to get it over with. Next thing I knew Elzabe had announced us and I watched in horror as Cath stepped out to bow and greet the audience and then take her place at the piano. I fantasized about bolting up the stairs and never being seen again. But I could feel all the Love from inside the glass bubble of the dining room and instead I marched in and clung to my clothes rail, steadied myself and on Cath’s cue I began to sing. At first it was a bit shaky but it settled and became more rooted and suddenly I was having fun. Most of the time I was in my own world but every now and then I would emerge to see a close friend or family member laughing from their gut or wiping away a sad tear. Strangely, I remember thinking I was probably dreaming because they were reacting better than I had ever imagined they would. I took a journey and over 30 people took it with me that night. By the end of the opening night we had already sold enough tickets to cover the loan I had taken from my brother (Retha was responding to e-mails for bookings that were still coming through at 9pm that night!)
Since then we have enjoyed full houses and standing ovations every night and although it is still early days I am grateful from the very source of my being. The relief of opening night was so mammoth that I came down with a strange virus (still unidentified) that caused me to sleep straight through the two nights and a day I had off until beginning my next week of shows tonight. I have almost completely recovered and the adrenaline of tonight’s show seemed to have given me a clean bill of health. Most of the tickets sold so far have been people who don"t even know me, and if atleast half of my mates come to see the show we will have to extend or do another run it's wonderful!
Tigger, Tanz, Mom, Si, Cath, Neels, Elly, Wim, Amalanka, Gerrit, Elzabe, Retha, Hopkins family, Collett, Luiz, Bruce W, Coenie K, Sonia, Peter, Sean, Tess, Nicci, everyone on Facebook and many more people... thank you all for the roles you’ve played in this amazing experience. I’m not counting my chickens. I’m merely sharing my gratitude at this point of the journey. I am fully aware that I am still flat broke and am not sure what the Universe has in store for me beyond the end of this run but I am feeling very optimistic nonetheless.
Irrespective of what the future holds I am so thankful for every helping hand and every ticket sold, but I can’t help being a “Little” excited about it too.
So much Love.