Tuesday, 23 December 2014

A PS for the Flame Lily Blog post.

This is the picture I was looking for. A flame lily in the Bush.

You may have read my blog post about Flame Lilies a few days ago. I mentioned that I trawled through the W.W.W. to try and find a picture of a flame lily in the bush. My lovely sis-in -law found one for me. See why I wanted one to show you?

I also came across a few more Zimbabweans, who like me, were all caught up in the specialness that are our national flower, so I have a few more pictures to share. But before I do that, I received an answer to my question about anyone remembering handing over their pocket money to pay for the Princess Elizabeth’s Flame Lily broach.


My friend Tracey, who we have known for a ridiculously long time, sent me this:

"You have found someone who can testify to this story! My Mom tells of giving money for that brooch - and being taken as a Girl Guide (I think) to view it before it was given to the Princess. I understood she, with others (Guides again I think) went to line the road and saw the Royals go past. She used to often tell us about it when we were young... What is also incredible, is that when the Queen came out to open the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (was if CHOGM?) in the early 1990's my mom was one of a bunch of Rotarians and their wives who were lining a red carpet in welcome somewhere like the runway at the airport. The Queen was wearing the Brooch that my mother remembered so clearly!

Flame Lilies bring poignant memories to me too, my Gran had a patch of the proper wild scarlet ones that grew singly about a foot high in her garden - and towards this end of the year, we were all banned from getting too close... dogs, grandchildren, gardeners... When we lived in my Gran's old house years later, those same flame lilies still popped up and had a mind of their own as they wandered all over the place!

What a great family story don't you think?I have mentioned Tracey's husband, Jerome, in a previous post about our wedding  HERE.

Just recently I reconnected with an old Harare Reps chum, Mike Lanchester, He had on his facebook page the following stunning pictures showing a flame lily flower from bud to wilting bloom. He has warm recollections of his late mothers visits to him and the flame lilies that he put in her room each day. So touching.

This last picture in this set is a summary. Bud. Bloom.Job done.

And as a final flourish Cathy Buckle, a Zimbabwean writer ( a proper one) on her face book page (click Here)  has been posting a Zimbabwean 12 Days of Christmas in evocative pictures. Cathy has been spot on with all of her choices.  And of course, she included a flame lily.Here is hers:

I am completely done now. My nostalgia trip was full of warm sighs. Thank you for sharing everyone.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Steel Magnolias – Part 2 - From rehearsals to the stage

Beautiful designs by our resident Artist Jennifer Cooper.
I have attended a couple of auditions over the last couple of months. Something I have not done for over 15 years. The difference between then and now? Absolutely no nerves at all. Very strange. But I am not so sure that the next audition I attend will be the same. I have been thinking about our auditions and the process of elimination that we went through and I am seeing the auditions in a new light. Go figure. I should know better right? Any-hooo. Just as nerve wracking as auditions may be for actors the process of choosing the right cast, as directors, is scary. If you make a mistake it will affect the whole production and potentially the success of the show. We have said a squillion times over the run of this show that there were very many very talented actresses at the auditions and it was hard to get the short list together. Very hard. We agonized, well I agonized. Once the short list was in front of us though, Bryan was quite decisive. I was the ditherer. Mixing and matching actresses to parts and each other. We probably went around and around in a little dance for a good hour and eventually settled on pretty much the final list that Bryan had drawn up. And he was spot on. And very patient, and very kind and he was not smug for even a second. Well if he was he hid it very well. He really is a gem sometimes.

Now I don’t want you to think that the casting was all plain sailing. We had a couple of hiccups. Firstly the lady we cast as Clairee had to leave Dubai on the day that we cast the show. Bryan was not at all phased as we had a Clairee, that we adored in auditions, who was ,we thought at the time of casting, a bit young for the role. Well when you want someone in their late 60’s early 70’s almost everyone in Dubai will be young. We changed the characters age a bit and were good to go. I suggested several time to Ellen ( our Clairee) that she should give up sleep for the duration so that she could look a bit older. She did not take me seriously. I cannot think why. I sacrificed my sanity. I don't see what was so unreasonable about me expecting a cast member to give up sleep for a couple of months. Particularly someone who has worked professionally in the theater and understands what it is to suffer for her art. Honestly am I unreasonable?

The Cast Before Kat
Our very own Southern Belle
A couple of weeks into our rehearsals our Truvy had to pull out due to looming unexpected pressures of work. We were gutted. But as providence would have it I met a perfect Southern Bell with a bucketful of talent and experience who magnificently stepped in and became Truvy. WHEW. Kat was an absolute life saver. With our new Truvy disaster was averted and we could get on with the business of rehearsing with our marvelous cast:

Our Magnificent Cast
Our cast gelled beautifully and rehearsals were a dream. We did have some jiggling around photo shoots and people’s office hours and trying on costumes and remembering where we were rehearsing on which days. The upside of rehearsing in three locations a week is that your cast has to get used to whatever is thrown at them. I held on to this as a positive and sucked in the frustration of not having a home base. Fortunately in the last few weeks we had access to rehearsal space at the Dubai International Academy. What a dream it was to finally have a place that was close in shape and size to the space we would perform in. Complete with a stage door to enter from! We were enormously helped out by Liz Hadaway and her lovely husband Amit Kapur, who let us use their Theater House for many of our rehearsals. Cast members flung open their homes to our noisy rehearsals and in the process we met lovely family members and were spoiled with refreshments and cozy bonhomie.
The "Steel Magnolias" at rehearsal. Magda is missing from the picture as she was on tea duty in the kitchen.
Word learning was a little tricky. It was difficult to hold the high ground as cast and crew members, who had worked with Bryan, gave him pointed looks when the topic of word learning came up. It seems Bryan’s word learning skills are not quite up to the exacting expectations we had for our own cast. I am just saying. There was a point that I was a little worried. I avoided for as long as I possibly could telling our Ouiser and M’Lynn that they were not going to have a Prompt in the wings…. Something that DDG does not do. I think we freaked out the cast a bit. Not sure if that was the right way to do it, but, well, it is done now I guess and they were marvelous on stage and knew their words for the show. It was all right on the night as the saying goes.

This was a very collaborative show. We keep saying that all over the place but it simply was. The problem Bryan and I had, as directors, was keeping our cast in check. Knowing when to let them run with something and when to hold them back. I say problem, but honestly that directors could get so lucky that they can make that statement. There was no “pulling teeth” in getting the cast to deliver their characters. Bryan would throw cryptic instructions to cast members ( my instruction where never cryptic - of course) and they would nod wisely (I would be totally confused) and they would produce exactly what he wanted in the next run through. There were questions and discoveries and trying ideas out and rejecting things and picking up little gestures and saying YES! Keep that in. I was really worried about Bryan and I giving conflicting notes. And we did, believe you me. Occasionally there would be an exchange of looks between cast members or between me (glaring) at Bryan as he gave a note I did not agree with, but we all worked through these and found what worked best.
Notes at the end of a rehearsal - Bryan in the hen house.....

What I did not have fun with was finding a producer, a props person, a wardrobe person, and a set. I could have wept. I am eternally grateful for the help I got from the cast and various people that stepped in for a time and helped out in these areas. I realize now how spoiled I have been in the past were I simply have not had to worry about the back ground stuff. It happens by magic and as a director one just nods one’s head and says “Yes perfect, that is wonderful. You are wonderful now let me focus on my ego and being a director darling.”

I had a couple a few sleepless nights along the way trying to find hair salon furniture and hairstylists to train Katherine Spry and Jennifer Cooper to look convincing as hairstylists. Katherine trawled the internet to learn what she could. I in desperation placed a note in the forum of Expat Women and the splendid Rain Baxter stepped into the breach and showed our gals what was what and how to do it. Rain together with my own hair stylist, Rachel Mounsey (who re-discovered crimped hair, crimping her own hair into a fine mass of cringles over the course of the show) had our actresses’ hair  exactly as it should be. Kat’s beautifully bouffant 1980’s “It takes a lot of effort to look this good” hair was just dreamy. Jen’s wild crimped look so suited her character. On stage we had Truvy and Annelle doing hair and back stage our stylists helped with lightening quick changes. Our stylists were our security blankets. It was such a relief to have great people on board. Each night I was impressed with how Truvy did Shelby’s wedding hair and I loved Jen’s gangly getting on with business about the garage salon, both of them as if they had worked in the business for years.

Me (my goodness I did not realise how see through that top is) with Rain "The Stylist" 
I am so grateful to Judy Gray for putting me in touch with Transformbody Ladies Center. What superstars Pouria and Debbie were. We stripped the salon of chairs, shelving and product for almost a week. We bungled up their stuff and took it way. There are not many salons that would do that. And then on top of all that, Pouria helped me with the layout of the flyers. The artwork had been done beautifully by our own multi-talented cast member Jennifer Cooper but the stuff that you have to do to make it printer ready (who knew) Pouria and his IT man helped us with.


Everyone helped with costumes. We all raided our closets, had Sheryl Porbanderwalla step in and help us while she could with providing a pile of clothes and then we toddled down to Dragon Mart. What would we have done without that splendid emporium of tat of every sort under the sun I do not know. From wigs to hair pieces to hair washing stations to gaudy plastic jewelry to hat stands and carpets. Dragon Mart had it all. It was a very good thing that the visits we made were always under time pressures. Left to my own devices, I could get lost in there for weeks.

Between Bryan and I, with help of our production secretary Diana Duff and our prompt turned props gal, held the ropes of the rehearsals together with our cast. We painfully slowly got our props and set together - but we did get it done! You have no idea how hard it is to find the right size hair rollers and bobby pins.

We found a little gem in the shape of a DIA student Rohan Binoy to do our sound. He was cool, efficient and utterly unflappable. We loved him. His very strict mum also loved him so he was in and out of rehearsals based on a timetable that involved him being home in time to do his homework, but for the run of the show he was our man.

One area that we absolutely did not have to worry about was with our stage manager. Bryan and I had collared Toby (and Philip our son) in a pub (catch them in moments of weakness I say) and got them on board before we even started rehearsing. Whew. Philip did try and duck out of the show but I would have none of it. I am a half Greek mother. I have no problem with emotional blackmail. What is it about my family avoiding working with me?

The Back stage crew - appropriately dressed in black with smiles of course
 In a stroke of good luck, due mainly to her complete lack of knowing what she was letting herself in for, my friend Dolly Jitani agreed to be the props mistress during the show. She proved to be a no nonsense “don’t mess with my set” props mistress. Exactly the kind you want. I got an email everyday telling me what I had to remember.

"What am I letting myself in for?" Dolly in prompt mode.
Tiffany and Kylie Schultz from the Courtyard Playhouse held our hands throughout once we got into the space and Bryan helped with lights. With our stellar cast, totally sorted crew and the DDG committee looking after FOH I found myself pretty much redundant once we went on stage. I was relegated to selling popcorn and fetching sandwiches for the cast and crew between shows.

Sound, Lights - action
The Courtyard Playhouse is a delightful space to work in. It was the most charming of stage spaces, full of warmth. Our audiences loved the space. You could almost touch the anticipation as they climb up the quirky staircase into the heart of the theater. I loved the space. I just kept wishing we had more seats. Or maybe we should have had more performances. 20/20 hindsight and all that.

To get our audiences into the mood for a thoroughly Southern evening I asked Brent Jenkins to use his Texan accent to good effect for our show announcements. I was going to insert the sound clip here but the technology is beyond me. Sad I know.

The show was very well received, if I say so myself. I naturally thought it was the best show ever in terms of the casts’ performance. I thought our actresses were just the bloody bees knees and then some. They took the show and made it fly high. I just wish I could have given them a bigger audience and a better set. They so deserved it. I cannot express how grateful and proud I am of what they achieved. A talented group of actresses who gave us everything they had. The performances were strong, heartfelt and movingly convincing. I don’t think we had a single performance that did not have the audience tearing up if not crying in the climatic grieving scene and leaving feeling warmly affected by the heartfelt performances.

My fervent hope, as an outcome for this show, is that the cast, most of whom had not performed in Dubai before, do another show.

I am taking a break. Yes I know I have been on a very long break, years in fact until this season.  I don't think my boss will have the patience to put up with me if a direct another play any time soon. With all the will in the world it is impossible, for the level of commitment needed to be involved in a show, in this sort of role to not have it flow over into your day job. So I will lay low for a bit. Regroup, find another play...... and then we will see.

Below are a few links to promos that we had for the show:
Dubai Calendar                            Time Out Dubai

3 in dubai.com This one was interesting. Not our logo not our pictures.....

bookmyshow.com                        angloinfo.com

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Wonderful marvelous utterly Zimbabwean - The Flame Lily

You can see why it is called a flame lily.

At this time of the year, what with Christmas galloping up on us and everything getting wonderfully festive, I think of flame lilies. Zimbabweans tend to, they bloom in December just in time for Christmas, and are our national flower.  For many of us  the flame lily  is a symbol of home at a time of year when we think of family and friends from Zimbabwe  living diasporatically ( is that even a word?)  around the world.
Gloriosa superba - flame lily
My friend Bart has penned a lovely soul sad poem.


Sudden, unannounced, water in my eye,

A tear springs in betrayal.

I cry for I do not know what, except that I have lost

And looking now at an old photograph am taken somewhere

To an origin, to a flame lily in December grass stems.

It weeps colour, memory beneath a bandaged English winter.

When absences carve holes,

Do bulbs and tubers, seeds and roots

Fill in for me those places where I no longer am,

Where only shadows now remind me of their passing

And the numbers uncounted clocks have leaked?

A mother’s face alight,

Shining with the cut stems of flowers in a vase,

I remember now.

Those walks beside the railway tracks

That gleamed long with longing the distances of past

And bearing bunches, bright red and yellow homeward,

That abundance of gifts my now empty hands so miss

Here is a link Bart Wolffe Poetry for more of Bart's work:

While looking for pictures of Flame lilies I found a few interesting bits and pieces about them that I did not know:

All parts of the flame lily, which is a herb by the way, but especially the roots and seeds contain a poison. Lethal doses have been know to be used as a means of committing suicide.

To demonstrate how highly we regard our flower,  let me tell you that a diamond brooch in the shape of a flame lily was presented, as a gift from Zimbabwe back in the day  when it was Southern Rhodesia, to Queen Elizabeth II.  Here is a little story cribbed , mostly, from this link:

The the Flame Lily Brooch (sometimes also called the Rhodesian Flame Lily).
The Princess Elizabeth celebrated her 21st birthday while touring southern Africa with her parents and sister.  My Grandfather , as it happens, was part of the South African Police Mounted Guard attached  to (if I am remembering family tales correctly) the Royal Family Tour of South African. But to continue with the story. This brooch was one of her birthday presents, a gift from 42,000 children in Southern Rhodesia. The school children were asked to donate a bit of pocket money each to contribute to the creation of this 301 diamond-strong platinum piece in the shape of a flame lily.
Come on all my Zimbabwe peeps far and wide. Does anyone have a grandparent, parent, a great aunt Mavis  or even a friend who lived in Zimbabwe (at the time Rhodesia) who remembers parting with their pocket money to help pay for the queens birthday pressie?

 I think it may be a favoured piece. What do you think?

Returning home from Kenya after her father's death in 1952, this brooch was the sole striking ornamentation on the young queen's black outfit as she descended the steps of her plane - the first glimpse the public had of their new queen. She wears it to this day.

Interestingly, there are actually two flame lily brooches in the Queen's collection. Both Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother were presented with very similar pieces later on, and the Queen inherited her mother's brooch. It would be terribly difficult (and sometimes impossible) to tell the two apart. Multiples of one brooch: now that's a collection.
 What a lovely story don't you think? If that does not fill you up with warn fuzzy festive feelings well ba-humbug to you in the lead up to Christmas.
Zimbabweans love their flame lilies so much we have had stamps issued,
 coins minted,

and postcards printed.
for the "Whenwes"
for the " liberal Lefties"

I have trawled the internet to find a picture of a flame lily growing in the bush. Sadly I have not found a single picture that come close to what I am looking for. There is a very special feeling that washes over you when you see one in the wild, brilliant orange and red and green against the dry brown of the African landscape. I am disappointed but not crushed that I could not find the kind of picture I wanted to show you. If I had not trawled through the internet looking for one I would not have found all these lovely bits and pieces to share with you.



Monday, 15 December 2014

The living end - in Dubai

So this is what I read today in my "all time favorite  letters page in a newpaper" :

Mind Boggling?

In case you think I am making this up below is the link.

Worried from Barsha.....

Please, please, all things right in the world let this be a prank letter. But this is Dubai so you just never know.

"In happier times before we had to get rid of the pool cleaner...."

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Lost Passport

A month or so ago I took my passport into the office to scan it so that I could send a copy of it to a bank. I noticed that my passport was due to expire next year and thought “ Oo I am going to be very grown up and get on to this sooner rather than later” and as ALWAYS happens when I start a thought when I am supposed to be performing an action, everything falls apart. I did not put it, as I ought, where it belongs in "The Safe". Oh the irony. On the back of my brain fart about renewing my passport I put it “Somewhere Safe” not " In The Safe" with the intention of following up on  it the very next day. Bitter laughter peeps.
My safe places are always VERY BAD IDEAS. I know this. Knowing this has me stopping dead in my tracks when the very notion of “A Safe Place” pops into my head. Red lights flash. Sirens wail. My whole brain goes into high alert and screams “NO. NO. NO.  DO NOT DO THIS. Put it back in the actual usual place where the object lives. PLEEEEEEEEEZE.”  Do I listen?  Hell no, because I think I am better than the sum total of my experience. Honestly what is the point of a brain if my superego is constantly overridden by a weak ego buckling down to my id?  SIGH.

A couple of weeks ago I got a call about the copy of the passport that I had sent in. It seemed the bank wanted to actually see the original. That is when I started my meltdown. Fuzzy memories about brain sirens and warnings washed over me. I had lost my passport. I was a complete wreck.  I come from Zimbabwe remember? And losing a passport is the stuff of nightmares.  I still carry that fear around with me even though I have not had a Zimbabwean passport for 10 years. And my heart breaks a little just writing that, but that is another very long story.

The Fear
So there I was passport less and panicking. I did a panic hunt. You all know how well those turn out? You don’t? Well they don’t work unless what you are looking for smells bad or makes a lot of noise to guide you to its location. The house was in a mess from the after effects of a few months of living nothing but Steel Magnolias with left over piles of props and costumes and things not put away. Bryan was away so I put off the bank saying that maybe he had the passport with him. You never know. Right? Well Bryan did not, why would he? Clutching at straws, my dears, was what I was doing. I felt sorry for myself for a bit and sighed and avoided the issue  by deciding that the best thing to do would be to TURN THE HOUSE UPSIDE DOWN and then PUT IT BACK TOGETHER........later. This exercise required a weekend. There was nothing for it but to wait for a few days. So, that is what I did. Procrastinated. Waited for the weekend hoping against hope that the passport would mysteriously appear in the meantime, by magic, as they  do. 

By the time the weekend arrived I had whipped myself up to a frenzy of self loathing. If I could just organise my life a bit better I would not "lose shit". Not that  a passport is shit you understand.. The house would not be an almighty, god awful mess. The Sofa cover would be clean and the pillows fragrant and plump. I would be a domestic goddess in the kitchen and present my family with delicious home cooked meals every day. If  I was not such a scatter brained, lazy lump, my life would look like this 1950's nostalgic snap shot.... I got a bit carried away over the whole losing the passport thing.

I emptied every single drawer, cupboard, and envelope in our house. From top to bottom and under the stairs. I threw away old shoes. Old bills - shredded.  Magazines that had not seen the light of day for years - recycled. Miscellaneous lanyards (why the hell do I have lanyards for events that took place three years ago you ask? Well because you never know when you might need them. Ha. Tossed. In my now hysterical state of finding the passport and hating my junked up life I threw things away. Every bit of IKEA that was not used to put something together (you know those odd screws) now forever gone. Keys from another life time- maybe - trashed. Plastic spoons and silly empty small jewelry boxes, bits of string, bread bag clips- why did I even have a collection of those?ALL GONE.  Old clothes, belonging to Bryan, gone to a better home.  Clothes that I have not worn for years and don’t fit me, well, not quite gone but one step closer to being gone. Never in my life have I had such a major clean out before.  I was bloody amazing. The whole house sorted.
At this point let me just say that I am not the only person who has lost something in our house. Bryan has lost the only key to the Volvo. It has sat ( the Volvo)  is solitary splendor in the drive way for so long that one of its tires is  now flat ( just saying) so this was a good opportunity to really hunt down that key. I looked everywhere as I have shown above.

I did not do the office.  No . No. Because, I felt, rather strongly as it happens, that if I was tearing the house apart the least Bryan could do was the office. I asked, very nicely, if he would do this. Maybe I was too nice because my sense of righteous indignation and panic was clearly not picked up on. Bryan did not so much as lift a piece of paper in the office. He went for a bike ride. He played backgammon with Philip. He listened to interesting pod-casts sitting in the luxurious comfort of the cushions on the sofa, like a cat sunning himself, smug and cozy. He read whole chapters of the latest Ben Elton Novel, something about changing History – like I bloody care what the book was called….. fume, fume, fume, smoke billowing out of my ears, fume.
....and on my blog
I found nothing in the house. Ever the optimist (ha!) and still hopeful that Bryan would do the home office, I decided, as a last ditch effort, to look in my office at work. That was, after all, where I did the scanning. Turning my office upside down was not terribly productive. Emptying my desk drawers produced nothing but two tatty packs of chewing gum that I did not know I had.

Then Bryan travelled. Again. He went to Uganda. The office was not touched. It's mess was gloriously undisturbed. I thought cruel thoughts about it being a pity that the Ebola outbreak was too bloody far away to be a just punishment for a husband that does not look in the office for his wife's passport and his volvo key. I was struck upon by a hateful  burst of fury which had me charging into the office muttering under my breath about “ what a Sod I was married to.” Please note not an SOB his mother is wonderful.  How “ALL MEN ARE USELESS.” The remaining men in the house, my two marvelous sons, were as quiet as mice, tiptoeing about upstairs trying to be invisible. I stomped about the two square feet of office that are not covered with piles of props and clothes from the show and Bryan's bike paraphernalia feeling like a Mighty Martyr.  

I found my passport in the second place that I looked, in a box of papers waiting to be filed. Where I ,no doubt, had put it. There will be absolutely no discussion about that EVER.

I triumphantly left the mess holding high my passport.

Hell will freeze over before I tidy up that room considering the hours I spent on the rest of the house.  And of course Bryan is utterly oblivious.

Bryan's solution  to his problem was to order another key for the Volvo. GRRRRNNNNN.

Philip, in what can only be described as  with foolhardy aplomb , pointed out that seeing as I was due to renew my passport anyway he could not understand why I got into such a snit over the whole thing.

Cameron was probably wishing he was in Cape Town.



Thursday, 27 November 2014

Steel Magnolias PART 1 - The begining of a shaggy dog story - it's all about me.

Drama Drama
I have been a bit busy for the last couple of months. Bryan and I have been directing a play. I have also been producing, finding props, finding costumes, finding people to do the props and the costumes and the producing so that I would not have to do them with limited success. Want to know why? Because I am a useless producer. EISH. And fraying my nerves in the process. And yet.....It has been bloody brilliant! In my mind I have been a Martyr for months. There is really nothing better for a “woe is me” type like me.  Move over Eeyore. All my favorite things all rolled into one. Stress , feeling sorry for myself, combined with self-righteousness and feeling like I have the moral high ground, for a few moments. Who needs calm and sanity and peace of mind? Clearly not me. Now I don't want you to think that I have been an island of suffering, well actually I do. But in the interests of full disclosure (don't you just loath the truth) I did get help from all sorts of people and places and I am most grateful.

suffering for my art.
I have an announcement.

I am a control freak. I never knew that. I did know that I really, truly, deeply, (down to the bone marrow, life blood deep) hate being controlled and react very badly when I feel even a tiny bit manipulated. Even for the very best of reasons , with the warmest of intentions. What I did not know was that, as a counter point to that, I am viscerally controlling. IT IS NOT A PRETTY THING. For someone who reacts so badly to being controlled you would think I would not be the thing that I loathe the most. All I can say on this point is that life is cruelly ironic. It is all too deep for me right now. I will revisit this revelation in my mind in the months to come. I will either make peace with it, and be a better person, or change and be a better person or completely freak out and you can visit me in Bedlam.

And I am sorry.

I know that my way is not the best way all the time or even all that often, for that matter. It is hardly relevant. I am controlling because I feel comfortable having my way. No surprises there right? And if I royally mess things up, I much prefer it if it is my fault rather than someone else’s. I can't hold a grudge against myself. I should just quit while I am ahead shouldn't I? “You are not ahead” I hear you think out loud? Oh well.

Back in April (wow  - was it that long ago?) DDG sent out a call for Directors for the upcoming season. Fresh from having dipped my toes back in the directing pool with DDG's "Chekhov’s Cigarettes" I was ready for another project. HA! Ready? HA! Fat lot I knew. By May the choice of "Steel Magnolias" was settled as being a play that would be well known and had a good cast for women. What a clever thing I am for suggesting the play and how wise DDG is for agreeing with me. Auditions were set for August. Hurry up and wait time. What it should have been was hurry up and get your ducks in a row time. But let’s not go there, okay?

In the meantime I was asked if I wanted to sit in on auditions for the DDG production due on stage before mine, "The importance of Being Ernest", as I might find potential cast members at the auditions. Yes, I did indeed want to sit in the Ernest auditions. And there my problems started.

Another Penelope playing Lady Bracknell

At the auditions, as you do, I landed up reading in for various roles against people auditioning and off the back of that was asked if I would consider auditioning for Lady Bracknell. What a silly question. In a very short space of time I was totally in love with the idea of getting back on stage and being Lady Bracknell. I so saw myself as that magnificent dowager. Another thing to think about. But back to the point, this left me with a dilemma. How could I direct a show and act in one where there would obviously be overlaps in terms of time commitments. I was like a teenager confronted with two great parties on the same night. And what does that foolish teen do? It goes to both. That is never a good idea, just trust me on that. I could not let go of either idea. I wanted it all and I wanted it now. Damn, a dilemma and a pickle. What to do? I did what I always do. I ran to Bryan. "Fix it Bryan. Fix it." I implored. "Help me. You know you want to." You know he did not, but what can he do? Give in or suffer an eternity of my sulking. Bryan agreed to co-direct so that I could act and direct. YAY.
"The Importance of Being Earnest" was postponed. I was crushed, really crushed; it has been a long time since I have been even a little tempted to act. SIGH. I was gutted, not least because I had used up a great many brownie points on getting Bryan to help me out of a tight spot. And now I was stuck with him. I would have to share.
It was just as well for Steel Magnolias. There is no way I could have done the show without Bryan. As it was Bryans job, with the travel he undertakes, combined with the fact that I could not get a producer meant that I was up to my eyeballs with Steel Magnolias.
And that is the story of how I landed up co-directing a play with my husband.
Do I recommend this?
To find out,  wait for my next post.........

"The Classic masks of Comedy and Tragedy or as they're now known, emoticons"

Thursday, 30 October 2014

An Evening of Shakespeare at the Dubai International Writers' Centre

Thesps and Poets, particularly lovers of Shakespeare
The Dubai International Writers Centre  is opening on November 2nd and are holding events for poets, writers, and dramatists. "YAY. How absolutely marvelous." I hear you all agree.
So here's the treat for all you thespians. The Centre is hosting an  "Evening of Shakespeare " on the 9th of November. Under the stars darlings.... sigh......Here is a description of the event:


"Shakespeare’s flair for wordplay and dramatic twists has been appreciated in a multitude of languages. Most of all, it is meant to be spoken aloud. Join us for a free event at the Dubai International Writers’ Centre on 9th November, when we will enjoy excerpts from Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets in Arabic, English, French, and other languages"
Doesn't it just sound too divine?

 To register for the event click the below link:

There are some pretty special events taking place in November apart from the Shakespere Evening. These are listed below: 
Inaugural Events for Dubai International Writers’ Centre
November 2014
Creative Writing Master Class with Ben Okri
‘True literature tears up the script’ of how we see ourselves, Ben Okri writes in his latest book of essays, A Time for New Dreams. A Booker-Prize-winning novelist, Okri was born in 1959 in northern Nigeria. As a teacher of writing, his approach challenges the writer’s perceptions and awakens their sensibilities. A rare and unique opportunity.  
Date: Sunday, 2 November
Time: 7:30 – 10:00 pm with 30 minute break
Cost: AED 500
Spaces available: 15
Two-day Nabati Poetry Conference and Poetry Evening
Nabati poetry, noted for its spontaneous and direct style, has been passed down through the generations in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula since the 16th century. This two-day conference, the first of its kind, celebrates this form in simultaneous translation. The general public as well as academics are invited to learn more about Nabati poetry from experts such as Oxford University professor Clive Holes, Professor for the Study of the Contemporary Arab World, and Professor Saad Sowayaan, Professor of Anthropology and Folklore at King Saud University.
Date: 3 November from 10 am – 4 pm; 4 November from 9:30 am – 4:30 pm
Cost: Free with lunch and refreshments provided
Spaces available: 200
Evening Nabati Poetry Reading
Enjoy an evening of traditional and contemporary Nabati poetry en plein air on Tuesday, November 4th from 8 pm onwards. Nabati poetry has been passed down through the generations in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula since the 16th century.
Date: 4 November 8 – 9:30 pm
Cost: Free
Spaces available: 200
Effective Journalism in Difficult Times: A Seminar with Abdel Bari Atwan
The Dubai International Writers’ Centre is set to hold a fantastic seminar for journalists on November 4. The seminar will be conducted by famed journalist and Founder and Editor-in-chief of Rai al-Youm, Abdel Bari-Atwan.
Abdel Bari-Atwan is recognized as an engaging speaker and a foremost expert in Middle East affairs. He is regularly invited to speak and write on topics related to this region and was chosen as one of the fifty most influential Arab personalities in the world by British publication – The Middle East.
Date: 4 November
Time: 5 – 7 pm
Cost: AED 250
Spaces available: 20
Educational Seminar on Nabati Poetry
At this half-day seminar, Oxford University professor Clive Holes will present a brief history of three Arabic ‘debate’ poems, which have been shared in their English translation with over 300,000 students in the United Kingdom.  Ideas on how to incorporate Nabati poetry into the classroom for children between the ages of 9 and 11 will also be discussed.
Date: 5 November
Time: 9:30 am – 12:30 pm
Cost: Free with refreshments
Tickets available: 20
Maximize your Impact: Public Speaking Workshop with Fiona Lindsay
Speaking in front of a crowd can be a terrifying experience, but it has also become an essential skill that many professionals require. Find your voice and build your confidence with Fiona Lindsay, formerly of the Royal Shakespeare Company, in an all-day workshop that combines public speaking and performance exercises. Book early for this popular workshop, which sold out at the 2013 Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.
Date: 9 November
Time: 10:00 am – 16:00 pm
Cost: AED 400 including light lunch
Spaces available: 20
An Evening of Shakespeare
Enjoy a celebration of Shakespeare under the stars with short readings of our favorite passages in an evening of readings by local enthusiasts.
Date: 9 November
Time: 7:30 – 9:30 pm
Cost: Free
Spaces available: 100
Shakespeare in Your Space – King Lear
A practical exploration of Shakespeare’s epic tragedy.
An encounter with a play should be an exploration that considers a series of questions, and opens up multiple interpretations. This interactive workshop will introduce the story, character, themes and language of King Lear through a series of practical rehearsal-room techniques, to immerse participants in the world of the play.
Date: 10 November
Time: Two separate sessions: 8:30 – 11:30 am and 12-30 – 15:30 pm.
This session is available for school groups of up to 30 students.
From page to screen: Akira Kurosawa’s Ran
Akira Kurosawa said, "What has always troubled me about King Lear is that Shakespeare gives his characters no past. In Ran, I have tried to give Lear a history." With commentary by Fiona Lindsay formerly of Royal Shakespeare Theater Company and renowned film critic Mohammed Rouda, Kurosawa’s epic 1985 film promises an evening of culture and enlightenment.
Date: 10 November
Time: 6:00 – 9:30 with intermission
Cost: Free
Spaces available: 200
Beginners Arabic Language Course
The course will be taught via the Communicative Approach, which emphasizeslevel.
Date & Timings: Sunday and Wednesday evenings from 7 – 9 pm, beginning 19 November.
Cost: 2500 for 10 weeks
Spaces available: 20

And here is a MAP!