Showing posts from 2015

More of Us should be Telling our Own Stories: Thoughts on "Necktie Youth"

Necktie Youth is a film I had been anticipating for quite some time. I was intrigued by the idea of a film for millenials that was actually made by someone in that group, about our experiences. Of course the added incentive was that it was a South African production.

Sibs Shongwe-La Mer's film follows a day in the lives of a group of Johannesburg youths from wealthy backgrounds. We get to see where they go, who they are with, what they do and how they think. It is revealing, and also a little jarring. 

The film's dialogue is charming in the way that it feels like it has been lifted right out of the conversation at the bar or at a house party. It mimics daily conversation so closely and comfortably, that it feels unscripted. It also does a great job of elevating the quotidian dramas of millenial life to the level of socio-political commentary.
The characters talk about politics and their disillusionment with it, changing race relations and how they affect interactions within the…

[Theatre]: A Memorable Night with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre

On Friday night I had the privilege of seeing the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Artscape Opera House. As expected, the show was a once in a lifetime spectacular.

The work of this world-class modern dance company is the stuff of legend, and the opening performance of "Night Creature" demonstrated why. Akua Noni Parker led the company in telling a story about a mischievous group of forest dwellers. No words were spoken, and even the music had no lyrics, yet the piece gave the audience a chance to imagine what fun and mayhem ensue in the forest after nightfall.

For the second piece, Linda Celeste Sims and Glenn Allen Sims gave a moving performance of Christopher Wheeldon's "After the Rain Pas de Deux". It is always fascinating to watch a pas de deux: the tightly synchronised movement, as well as the trust and intimacy between the dancers makes each one a thing of beauty.

I believe the highlight of the show was Rennie Harris's "Exodus". It…

Thoughts After an Interview

I am still trying to re-orient myself after the interview I just had.

I walked into the room relatively calm, though I was unsure of what would happen next. I saw some familiar faces and some new ones. Sitting in that black chair facing this "panel of judges" was quite intimidating.

I spent a lot of time trying to make sure my breathing wasn't too heavy, as I felt my heart racing while the questions were asked. I had to remind myself not to fidget too much and to keep my eye contact steady. (Now was the time for me to get all the "ace your interview!" tips I had read in magazines out from the archives in my mind.)

"tell us a little bit about yourself". Well, what do you want to know? My answer to this question was just a summary of the first few lines of my CV. It was generic, not really a great impression of who I am overall. But then who am I, really? What do interviewers expect me to say when they ask this question?

And then there's the intervi…

Tell Me Sweet Something: A Charming Cross Section of Young Love

Yesterday was the continent-wide release of the long-awaited Akin Omotoso film, Tell Me Sweet Something. I have been keen to see it since last year, when I first heard the news about an upcoming romantic comedy set in Johannesburg. I was intrigued: I am always interested to see what our local film producers can do to revive hackneyed Hollywood tropes.

Nomzamo Mbatha and Maps Maponyane star as Moratiwa Vokwana and Nat Masilo, characters who make an unlikely match. Moratiwa is a struggling writer who feels uninspired and jaded after a disappointment in love. Nat is the "misunderstood model" who makes the effort to prove to Moratiwa that he is "not like the others". They have a chance meeting at a night club, and their love story begins.

Tell Me Sweet Something uses elements of the romantic comedy - the meet-cute, the confession of feelings, the dramatic interruption, the happy ending - in a local context. It doesn't necessarily do anything new for the genre. Notab…

#ForBlackGirlsOnly Picnic 2015

Yesterday was the first #ForBlackGirlsOnly Picnic hosted by Black Love Sessions at Trenchtown, Observatory. For weeks, Sivu has been promoting the event on social media, letting people know that this opportunity was not to be missed.
The event was organised in response to the lack of spaces in Cape Town where young black women from different backgrounds can come together to talk, learn and grow.
#ForBlackGirlsOnly is explicit in its purpose: this is a space for black girls to be themselves in an uncensored and unapologetic way. There is no room for detractors who want to say "but what about x-type of girls?" No. This is our time. 
It is no coincidence that I felt the best music to get ready to was by Rihanna and Janelle Monae, two of the foremost examples of Black Girl Magic. It was a foreshadowing of the type of dynamism I would experience at the Picnic. As guests started to file in, I noticed this electric air of anticipation. Seeing all the women gathering with purpose wa…

[Theatre]: "Sizwe Banzi Is Dead" at the Baxter Flipside

On Wednesday night, I went to see Atandwa Kani and Mncedisi Shabangu in Sizwe Banzi Is Dead.Athol Fugard, Winston Ntshona and John Kani debuted the play they had collaborated on in 1972. It deals with the themes of politics, race and identity in the time of Pass Laws in South Africa.

I did a quiet squealing-gasp when I noticed Kani Senior (who directed this version of the play) walking into the room. A living legend was among us! I was jealous that I wasn't sitting in row D: I could have had the chance to shake his hand.

I had a smile on my face from the minute the lights went down, until the applause from the standing ovation died down. The show was just that good.
I loved the way that Atandwa played Styles, the factory worker turned photographer who narrates the story. The word "charisma" comes to mind. He engaged with the audience, and there was never any doubt about his dedication to honouring Styles' character. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that he is a…

[Theatre] : Experiencing A Pop Culture Phenomenon - West Side Story

West Side Story. For years I have been picking up references to this play in books, TV shows, and movies. Just like The Lion King, it was one of those pop culture things that I just knew about, without actually knowing any detail. It's that Romeo and Juliet adaptation - the one with the song about 'feeling pretty'. Right?

When I saw that a local production of the play would be staged at the Artscape Opera House, I jumped at the chance to finally put all the fragments I had in my mind together. Early reviews already promised a spectacular show, with Jonathan Roxmouth's version of Tony getting very high praise. I was also keen to see the set design: the choices directors make when trying to bring the scenes to life are always interesting.

From the first scene to the last, the music of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra gave an ambience to the play. While it would be easy for a performer to be overpowered by a full orchestra, Bianca le Grange (Anita) , Filipa van Eck (M…

Day Out at the Cape Town Street Food Festival

Last Sunday, I went to the Cape Town leg of the annual South African Street Food Festival in Woodstock.

 After arriving at the address, finding a locked up, eerily quiet building, and walking around a few ominous corners looking for the festival, I found a security guard in the nearby parking lot, and asked for directions.

The venue, Side Street Studios, is actually three separate spaces in Woodstock. I was at number 32, when I needed to be at number 48. (How many other people who relied on the information they found on Facebook had to take a detour...?)

Anyway, once there the Festival proved to be worth the early Saturday morning. Food trucks and stalls offered a wide variety of dishes, and it was possible to have a 4-course meal right there on the hill.

The selection of street food staples like samoosas, hotdogs and bunny chows was rounded out by pizza, curries and tacos. Once again I realised that I have a strange relationship with all-you-can-eat situations like this: I want all t…

I Should Know who Amy Schumer is by Now...

I am always a few months behind when it comes to comedy. I will stumble upon a new act, binge-watch all their stuff, share it with all my people, then promptly forget about them. I won't keep up with what's happening at Comedy Central, Saturday Night Live, or wherever cool people get their comedy fix these days, and as a result I will scroll past all the memes and gifs of the latest comedy MVP on Tumblr, because I just don't understand the references.

This is exactly what has been happening with regard to Amy Schumer. I vaguely remember her pulling some sort of stunt involving Kim Kardashian on the red carpet, and apparently she has a great show on Comedy Central called Inside Amy Schumer, but really I know nothing about her.

I am going to have to start paying attention and catching up really quickly. This video of her tackling sexism and ageism in Hollywood is hilarious:

It is spot on. If the tweets and the Jezebel or Buzzfeed articles are to be believed, this is the type…

Thoughts on Magic Mike XXL (with some Pop Social Science, for Good Measure)

On Friday, I went to watch Magic Mike XXL. I wanted to see ... the dancing. Also, I was interested in ... the story. Ja, the story.
But really I was just happy to spend R70 on a ticket to see Channing Tatum on the big screen. I was ready for that Ginuwine song to reclaim its title as "Best Earworm you Hate to Love".

A remake is always in danger of being worse than the original. In this case, I don't even remember what happened in the original, and for a movie like this I don't even think it's necessary to know any prior information.

The highlights of MMXXL came from the new additions to the cast. Jada Pinkett Smith's character, "Rome", was the perfect successor to Matthew McConaughey's outrageous "Dallas". She was giving us just the right amount of seductive style and attitude, making sure she gave a memorable (and convincing) performance as an MC. I would go to whatever club she was hosting at.

Donald Glover was a pleasant surprise. I…

Someone Get Me Outta Here! (Or: "This is Not what I Had Planned...")

This time last week, I was sitting in bed feeling very sorry for myself.

It was cold, my room smelled mouldy, all my clothes were dirty, I was sure that my pillows were rotting (more on that later), the ceiling was black under all the dust that was clinging to it, and worst of all - I was no longer at home.
Quite abruptly, the holidays were over. I was back in Cape Town, and I would have to make things work.

When I first arrived back in Observatory, I walked into my room to find it teeming with dust, with this rank smell in the air. I thought it was the usual kind of dirtiness that one should expect from a room that has been closed up for five weeks. But then I looked closer, and saw that the wardrobe was filthy, all the clothes that were in there were covered in this green-brown dust, and the bed frame was also a mess.
My sheets were damp and dusty, and the pillows were dangerously close to disintegrating from the dampness and dust they had soaked up. It was a disaster.

I had to wash…

Exam-Time Rants: I Hate my Housemates (Or: "These Hoes Ain't Loyal")

For a student who wants to live off-campus, accommodation options are pretty slim. Finding a place that is reasonably priced (whatever that means), in a safe area and close to public transport is difficult.
I just needed somewhere with a manageable number of tenants and a good bed. After living through the hell that was 60+ rowdy and disrespectful students in a building with  foam mattresses and a bad cockroach problem, I was desperate for something different.

A nice house on a quiet street, to be shared with four other people, seemed like the perfect solution. I could handle four people. I mean, what could possibly go wrong? The first people I met seemed cool, and I had no reason to suspect that they would cause trouble. I came in believing that common decency would prevail, and we would all get along just fine.

Once all five of us had moved in, we had a casual conversation about house rules, and we all agreed on how the house would run. No noise after 22:00 on weekdays, and 23:00 on…

That One Time when my Friend almost Disowned Me. (Or: "Who Let the Drama Fanatics Loose?")

Spoiler alert!
                 It's me. I'm the spoiler.
In fact, I'd go as far as to call myself a Ruiner. A ruiner of friendships.

yesterday, because I was so wrapped up in myself and my deep attachment to Revenge, I committed one of the worst friendship crimes ever. I told my best friend everything that happened in the season finale.

Yip. Mm-hm. Ja, ja. I deserve everything you're saying or thinking about me right now. There is no excuse.

I read a conversation that my almost-former bestie and I had had about the show the previous day as a sign that she had already watched the episode. I had it in my head that she was just waiting for me to weigh in. So when the final credits rolled, I immediately sent her a series of emoji-laden messages, detailing my reaction to all the most crucial moments.

What I got in response was not pretty.

I had ruined her life. Basically.

I proceeded to apologise profusely, begging for forgiveness and using lots of dramatic imagery.

I coul…

[Book Review]: Janet Mock - Redefining Realness

I first heard about Janet Mock around the internet - probably on Tumblr, where she is famous for her gender advocacy and activism. There are some young feminists in the online community who are big fans of hers, and I'm sure it was one of their reblogs that lead me to the Marie Claire article about Janet Mock's journey to becoming a transgender woman.

After I read that article, it seemed like I kept seeing news and articles about or by Janet all over the internet. I saw some reviews of her book, and put it on my "to-read" list.

Often, the best way to reach an audience is to tell your own story. Janet does this bravely with her book, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More. It is an account of her life so far: her early inner conflicts about gender, identity and her place in the world; her determination to take up that space, and fully exist in it, without fear. It's a brief overview of the lessons she learned and obstacles she…

Autumn 2015: Distressed (Denim) x Duster (Jacket)

I have all these ideas in my head of what I wish I dressed like. I wish my wardrobe was made of great (read: good cut, better fit) pairs of jeans and beautiful outerwear - blazers, waterfall jackets, parkas, trench coats.

I don't know where I would be going in all these clothes, since campus is not a catwalk, and I spend the rest of my time in my room (or sometimes at the mall)...but I keep believing that one day I will walk out in a denim, white blouse and trench coat outfit, finished off with the perfect court shoe of stiletto pump, and make a serious statement.

Some of my favourite images from the internet:

It looks like retailers are going to be making the trench coats and the distressed denim (which have been popular overseas for the past few months) available in our stores.

 I've only seen the style I want at Woolworths. They are beautiful, but they are so far out of my budget, I might as well be talking about buying real estate on the moon.
Still, they are beautiful to …

Thoughts while Watching The Lion King

So last night, while the internet was down, I did something major: I watched The Lion King for the first time in my life.

Yes, yes, I know. How can a sane South African go almost 21 years without watching the biggest movie of all time?
I dunno, man - it just happened. We didn't watch it at school, my parents didn't buy it for me on VHS. Obviously I had mean friends, because they never invited me over to watch it at their houses... So I have been going by on the millions of pop culture references from the movie, and whenever someone mentioned it I would just laugh along politely.
Well, I finally decided to do something about that. So, here are some of the things going on in my mind while I watched The Lion King.

Oh, so the animals just have British and American accents - and we're okay with that?Simba is so dramatic - I can't even deal."betrothed, promised, efianced!" 'efianced'? Really?It's only clicking for me now that the Timon and Pumba show I w…

That Time I Read Cosmo - and Unleashed a Hurricane of Judgment on Them

I have never been the biggest fan of Cosmopolitan magazine, mainly because it looks so intimidating. What business do I have reading about “50 new moves that will keep you and your man red hot in the bedroom this winter” , or anything else along those lines? I haven’t done any conclusive research, but I just don’t believe that there can be that many “new and exciting positions” each and every month.
It just never looked like there was any real reading to be done in Cosmo – only scandalous how-to diagrams and pictures of shirtless men. This time, my curiosity got the better of me and I bought the January issue, which is also the “Sexiest Men in SA” calendar issue. This issue is probably Cosmo’s most popular one of the year, and I have been interested in a detached way in the past – but never enough to actually buy into it – until today.
I went to the till thinking “it’s research: I need to know what type of magazine I could possibly be working for in the near future…” I needed to convinc…

Questions to Think About -some Things to Consider at the Beginning of 2015

What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before? I interviewed an author for a newspaper article 
Did anyone close to you get married, give birth or die? So many engagements and two weddings. My Facebook feed looked like the fridge in the loft on New Girl S4E1 – horrifying. One old friend gave birth. A family member died.
What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014? Confidence and faith, in myself and in the world- so that I can be assured that I am capable of doing and achieving all that I want to, and the world will help me to be great.* *Same as last year
But also the ability to redefine and stay focused on my goals. I need to actually do more, so I can stop feeling like I’m wasting time and getting nowhere. I’m too old for that now.
What events from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? March 7th, when I got mugged. I made it to the end of the year, but in the few weeks after that happened I was so confused about life – I couldn’t see it going much furth…