Archive | October, 2011

Dirty Tango

25 Oct

I always write my best work when I have a soundtrack playing in my head. In fact, I once wrote a play listening only to Jack Johnson, and despite my never mentioning this to the director of its first production, she chose Jack Johnson as the soundtrack. The music oozes into the words, somehow.

I have found the soundtrack to my next play. I found it in a 14o year old theatre in Stockholm, and it is Dirty Argentine Tango music. This is music that rips your heart out, slaps you around the face with it, and screams “ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION YET?”

This is the Orquesta Tipica Fernandez Fierro, and I am in love with them. It’s not so much the bad boy dreadlocked drama queen accordion player who is incapable of sitting still, or the violinist with Jesus hair who holds his violin up above his head after a good song, or the sunglassed cellist and bassist who aren’t shy to use their instruments for percussion, or the pianist who looks like he’s been living in a cave for a few years, or even the lead singer who had more costume changes than Lady Gaga, including singing two songs with his hoodie and shades fully on and another entirely offstage, and even made use of a microphone. It’s not the fact that these guys in their grungy jeans and t shirts look like they could just as easily be a skateboarding crew. It wasn’t the crazy insane stage lighting which threw in every colour of the rainbow, as much backlighting as the theatre could handle, and the occasional strobe.

What it is, is that these men are committed to their music and their performance with every cell in their body, every atom of their soul, and every breath they take. This is live performance. This is art. This is passion. They loved what they were doing so much the audience were incapable of not loving it too.

And this is tango like I’ve never heard it. I’ll admit I’ve probably had cliched, clean, romanticised notions of tango. This was dark, and passionate, and alive, and it wept stories of lust and devastation and elation and suffering and succor.

This is the soundtrack to my next play.


An Ode to Poetry

6 Oct

It’s Poetry Day, and that makes me happy. Poetry is one of those things, like marmite, that you either love or hate.  For me, a good poem can light up a whole day. This is one of my favourites, mostly because of how much it seems to enjoy itself.


THE LONELY BILTONG – author unkown

 The sun shone out of the heavens,

The birds they were all still,

And only the song of the koppies

And the donga’s bark so shrill

Broke the silence and heat of the noonday;

While under the summer sun

Two little mosbolletjies wandered

And laughed in childish fun.

Still were the tall maasbankers

And even the wild konfyt

Slept in the shade of the voorslags

Although the hour was late.

Herds of beautiful voetsaks

Ate the succulent short green kloof;

While a couple of drunken disselbooms

Slept on the farmhouse roof.

Krantzes and veldskoens in hundreds

Scented the summer air;

The spruits were laden with berries,

Truly the world looked fair.

Over the gravelled naartjies,

A lonely biltong ran.

I gazed at it all in wonder,

And murmured “Ag, sis tog man!”