Sunday, December 31, 2017

Fortune and The Company's Eyes



So, what now?
You’ve been informed about the acting electricians in the early days of The Market Theatre, I thought it was about time that I told a tale about some actors acting.
This is because of the reaction to my tale about the early days of the Company and the Market Theatre, so I’ve decided that I should take you into one of its old broom cupboards which was upstairs, where today you’d find the wardrobe department.
Back in 1976 it was an empty space that we rehearsed in for the production of “Fortune and Men’s Eyes” with the late Barney Simon, which was to be performed at the Nunnery, a small venue on the campus of Wits University.
The play was written by John Herbert in 1967 and explores a young man's experience in prison, delving into the themes of homosexuality and sexual slavery.

It was based in part by Herbert's own experience; he spent four months imprisoned in a youth reformatory after having been convicted of wearing drag in 1967. The character of Queenie in the play is an authorial self-insertion.



The title comes from Shakespeare’s sonnet 29, which begins with the line "When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes".








The characters are “Rocky”, a juvenile delinquent who has been in prison before and knows the ropes, played by the late Bill Flynn. “Smitty”, a new inmate played by Paul Slabolepszy, “Mona”, a fragile possibly gay inmate who has been in for some time, played by Danny Keogh and the transvestite “Queenie”, played by myself. And a fifth character our warder played by Nigel Vermaas.

All were intricate deep characters and each of us knew we were about to embark on some seriously deep challenging work.

Barney was one of my favourite directors and he often said, “You’ve got to find it in yourself!”

His first mission was trying to get us four inmates of the prison to understand what confinement, in a small enclosed space, was really like; and how the feeling would affect our various characters.

To do this, he locked the four of us in the afore-mentioned small old broom cupboard sometimes for a whole day with a short break for a walk, a drink and a urination.

The cupboard had no window, the only visibility out was from the top of the cupboard door which had a slatted ventilation, if this was forced upward we could see the legs of the fifth character in the play, our warden, played by Nigel Vermass, and he was forced to sit outside, also for the whole day, so he could search his inner-self to discover why he was such a vindictive bastard.

One of the longer walls was bare, the other had four sturdy shelves, approximately one metre fifty in length and about forty centimetres in depth or width.

We were all young and fit so in no time at all Dannny Keogh, playing the frail inmate Mona, was soon lying precariously on his back on the topmost shelf, feeling he would get away from the torments that Rocky threw about.

Not to be outdone Bill, as Rocky, climbed onto the third shelf and helped the new inmate Smitty up onto the second.

I have always had an aversion to the smell of breaking wind and in the afternoon, seeing as we’d all eaten baked beans at our fifteen-minute lunch break, bought at the handy Spar market across the road at that time, I knew what was in store.



So, I took the concrete floor and used one of the four blankets Barney had given us. On the floor I could lie either on my back or propped up by an elbow on my side.



My A-level physics had taught me that hot air rises, and it sure did, everything I emitted, and that Paul and Bill released rose up to give poor Danny a torrid time. He complained bitterly and leapt down to breathe the clean air rolling in under the door. He even asked Nigel to get us some fresh air spray.

Of course, Nigel the warder, refused.

Our first stint in the cupboard was from nine thirty in the morning till four thirty in the afternoon, with two five-minute breaks for a drink, a pee, a walk, and a fifteen-minute break for lunch. After that first Monday of rehearsals we all kept our diets free from methane producing products.

Tuesday, we were placed in the cupboard again, same again Wednesday but we were released at five-thirty, Thursday, with an added half an hour and Friday, with another full hour added, but on Saturday morning we read the play! What a relief and all of us agreed that our confinement certainly helped and opened many new avenues for us to explore. Even Nigel, who has only ten or so lines in the piece, was twice as vicious and doubly mean.

On Sunday Barney asked me to pop round to his house. I knew what was coming. How on earth was I going to manage Queenie’s song “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, which he sings at the opening of the second act in full drag.



He gave me a recording of Bessie Smith doing the song. I had already told Barney that I was tone deaf, and I’d caused three singing teachers at RADA to seek Psychiatric help.



Barney immediately gave me a telephone number and said, “Call her, she’s expecting you to call, she definitely can help.”

I called the lady, Irene Frangs, as soon as I got back to my flat in Yeoville.


In the phone call it was arranged that I should pop by her house on Jan Smuts Avenue at three o’clock that Sunday afternoon. I immediately gave her the full run down about my aversion to singing and my inability to hold a tune; I even told how three teachers at RADA had not managed to be successful.

Irene seemed to not hear what I said and asked, “You’re British ja?” This coming from a very large red-haired lady with Greek ancestry was odd.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Recognise this?” as her fingers rippled across the grand piano with the opening chords of the “God save the Queen”.

“Call it an anthem to your character, So, come on belt it out!”

And I did. She helped me along and after we’d done it four times she asked, “Know any other songs?”

“Yep, I had to sing it in a play, The Cuban Missile Crisis, last year back in the UK, I did for Prospect Theatre Company; I played Lee Marvin and had to sing “I was born under a Wandering Star” same way as Lee did.”

The chords played out and off I went and even amazed myself. At the end Irene stood and applauded. “Right Cess, I won’t hear another word about being tone deaf and not being able to sing we’ll have you doing opera next week!” For the next four weeks I visited Irene twice weekly, on Sundays and in the afternoon on Wednesdays.


She adapted the song into Sprechgesang, so that I wouldn’t have to sing but rather speak, as I progressed I found myself naturally hitting the right notes and the dance routine I devised gave the whole drag act a very humourous sexual slant.

For those of you that don’t know the song I’ve downloaded a video of Bessie Lee singing and have given you the lyrics.

The venue, The Nunnery was very small, but Barney designed a set with the help of Sarah Roberts who also designed the costumes, and selected my very own slinky Drag dress and high heels.




There was raked seating at each end of the oblong hall, in the central area they constructed a cell out of scaffolding; there was one metal door with a spy window through which Nigel could peer through and make sure his prisoners were behaving themselves.

This gave the sense of a very uncomfortable enclosed space. Four bunk beds were attached to the structure at different heights; they were also made of scaffolding with wooden boards and straw mattresses.


Seats for the audience were also available just under the lighting rig, here they sat on boards laid on the scaffolding with their legs dangling into the upper reaches of the cell.

It worked fantastically well, and one hundred and twenty-five patrons made a full-house; some members of the public made a second visit to see the play solely because they wanted to sit in the scaffolding.

We had five weeks of rehearsal working eight to ten hours each day including Saturdays. The get-in weekend was a frantic and hectic time. Mannie Manim designed the lighting, it was very difficult for him as he had to light from all sides of the venue and from above as well. This caused problems for us actors, as we had to constantly aware of casting shadows on each other.

The show received rave reviews from all the newspaper critics and my dragged rendition of “A good man is hard to find” received its own round of cheers and applause.





We played to full houses for six weeks, and if I remember correctly we had a two-week extension. There was talk, when it was discovered that The Nunnery had another production booked in, to find another venue.



Unfortunately, there was not another small venue available, and both Barney and Mannie knew that we would lose that special undefinable effect that The Nunnery had.

So, the production closed.

It hit the headlines again later in the year in all the Johannesburg newspapers, when Paul Slabolepszy won the best actor of the year, the production the best production award and Barney was nominated for the best director; he may even have won it, but my ageing grey matter’s hard drive can not retrieve the information.


Paul went on to even greater things and during the eighties till the present day he has become one of South Africa's playwrights winning numerous awards.

I can however give you the lyrics to Bessie Smith’s song and the text of Shakespeare’s sonnet 29.
A good man is hard to find,
You always get the other kind
A good man is hard to find,
You always get the other kind
Just when you think that he's your pal,
You look for him and find
Him fooling around some other gal
Then you rave,
You even pray,
To see him laying in his grave
So if your man is nice,
You better take my advice
Hug him in the morning,
Kiss him every night,
Give him plenty loving,
Treat him right
Cause a good man now day's is hard to find

So if your man is nice,

You better take my advice
And hug him in the morning,
Kiss him every night,
Give him plenty loving,
And treat him right
For a good man now day's is hard to find

SONNET 29
When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.







PS: Now you've read this post, I would like you to comment on it. Say what you really think please. If you read any of the previous tales the same applies. It will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.















Saturday, December 30, 2017

THE FILM CREW


I believe it would be a reasonable assumption for me to say that many of you go to the cinema. That some of you may be aspiring movie critics or even be addicts of the celluloid art.

But how many of you stay till the final credits naming all those involved with the production has faded to black?

Not many, is a fair answer.

Yet every name listed on those credits gave their, perhaps menial talent, to the creation that you have just viewed.

Have you ever wondered what the 2nd unit 3rd assistant director or the SF make-up artist did? Or how the caterer got lunch to the whole crew and artists on the lower Alpine slopes in that James Bond chase?

I'll attempt to answer some of those questions.

The production of a movie is very similar to the mounting of a military campaign. The key word in both ventures is "Planning".

Let us assume that money has been raised and our movie has three executive producers, who have hired a director and secured the involvement of 2 "Box-Office" names to play the leading male and female characters. They have also got a guarantee to distribution of the finished product.

This latter requirement ensures that the public will see the film in a cinema and may also include DVD and television clauses.

This was the genius of George Lucas when he started work on the first Star Wars film. He made sure he controlled everything. Production, distribution and marketing, even of the spin-of industries which included games, T-shirts, and toys.

A stroke of genius.

However, in most movies most of the profits go to the distributor. The producers are next on the list, followed by possibly the director, depending on the clauses in his contract.

The crew and actors will see nothing, unless they have negotiated like Alec Guinness when he appeared as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the first Star Wars movie, where he asked for a small 2% of the gross takings paid to George Lucas.
His estate to this day has earned approximately $95 million, and poor old James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader made only $7000!!

A similar story can be seen in the phonemically successful film "The Full Monty".

The actors in this film only received a paltry amount of the film's massive takings of $250 million from a production budget of $3.5 million.

I apologize for the above diversion into the financial shenanigans of the movie industry.

I move back to my opening statement.

Who or what is Grip or Gaffer?

And who is the "Foleys Artist"?


Foley, the name, came from the first artist to add sound effects to a movie in post-production, a Mr Jack Donovan Foley. He did this in the Universal Pictures production of "The Jazz Singer" way back in 1915. He continued as a Foley Artist till his death in 1967.

I too, have worked as a Foley artist on a couple of feature films, treading on old disused quarter inch recording tape to sound like footsteps on grass, I’ve even opened and closed a few doors and once, using an effect I picked up in a radio studio way back in the seventies, chopped through a cabbage with an axe to replicate a beheading! Experience in the field of radio or as it was known, wireless, is a great advantage should you wish to pursue this career.

A Grip and a Gaffer are highly intricate jobs and a clear understanding of weights and balances along with a firm understanding on how to tie a good knot using either rope or plastic will stand you in good stead.
Their job is to rig up a camera in sometimes what seems to be an impossible location, under a car, on top of a car, inside a car, half way down a perpendicular cliff face, and even under water. The latter requires a highly specialized Grip who can swim, dive and sometimes snorkel.

A Greensman?

Go on have a guess.

Well he or she works on the “set” and is part of the set dressing department, which oversees the decorating of a film set, which includes the furnishings and all the other objects that will be seen in the film. They work closely with the production designer and coordinate with the art director and should an Academy Award be given, it is given jointly to both the production designer and the set decorator.

Now if any greenery is required i.e.: flowers plants, or even trees in steps the Greensman. He or she is a specialised set dresser dealing with the artistic arrangement or landscape design of plant material, sometimes real and sometimes artificial, and usually a combination of both. Depending on the scope of the greens work in a film, the greensman may report to the art director or may report directly to the production designer.

If say the location is a nursery, this department can move into double figures with a Greensmaster, greens supervisor, a foreperson, a leading hand, and several labourers.

Another department with numerous worker and a hierarchical structure is the costume department.


First there is the costume designer, who is responsible for all the clothing and costumes worn by all the actors that appear on screen. He or she will discuss with the production designer to achieve an overall tone of the film.



Once they have interpreted the various characters appearing and decided on the “look” they will have, in steps the costume buyer or Cutter, they may be called a fitter, a seamstress or a tailor. Some celebrity actors have favorite cutters, and larger productions may hire several and have them on set at the same time, particularly in period film projects that might have complicated or expensive extras wardrobe.



If a Hollywood star is in the film often a “key costumer” is employed on larger productions to manage the set costumers, and to handle the star's personal wardrobe needs.



A Costume standby person is present on set always. It is his/her responsibility to monitor the quality and continuity of the actors and actresses costumes before and during takes. He or she will also assist the actors and actresses with dressing.



I could go on and on through all the departments involved on a production, but suffice to say, on a large scale international well financed production the list of technicians involved could be over three hundred possibly four or five if modern green screen technology is used, and a lot of computer graphics are required in post-production.



So, apart from their names on that endless list that comes at the end of the movie, that hardly any of you stay behind and watch, what else do these poor technicians have?



Well, they certainly have a longer and a more secure life than your jobbing actor! Because work is almost always on offer in documentaries, animation movies, news reporting, TV series and soaps, and Commercials which are highly paid.



And finally, there is of course “The Wrap Party”!



Always a festive occasion which is paid for by The Producer/Producers who are always the guys who pocket the rewards

PLEASE COMMENT PLEASE 

Friday, December 29, 2017

OLD AGE



Well knocking on the mid-seventies, I can tell you all that it's not too pleasant. 


Muscles ache with regularity, cuts, bruises, fractures and the common cold and flu take more time to leave your ageing body than they did in your youth.

I've always been a DIY-er., and even now I try, but the numerous times I have fallen foul of the surroundings I was working in, increases with each attempt.

Ladders and roof and gutter work are definite" No-Nos" and even trimming the bougainvillea is beginning to give more scratches than it used to.

Gardening is still a passion but wielding the fork and spade is not as easy as it used to be. Soil sifting and mixing with manure is still a doddle and can be done seated if all the necessary ingredients and tools are within easy reach. With spring in full swing in the southern hemisphere, it's a job on my list of things to do.[ 

My grand-pa used to make me do the job as a youngster and I have not forgotten how to prepare the right clay, loam, manure, sand mix for the seedling trays.

The right mix is the key for the germinating seeds to build strong roots and makes transplanting so much easier and successful. And if you water with his pigeon-shite mixture or worm wee-wee you're bound to have healthy seedlings, that will give an abundant and tasty crop.

I still do the occasional electrical job either around the house or for a friend. 

Recently I found myself in Groot Marico, a small hamlet in the North-West province of South Africa. I was taken there by a friend, Allen, who wanted me to put in three new double plug & plates and repair a couple of bedside lamps.

The jobs were finished before the sun set. Allen told me we were to visit a neighbour on the adjacent plot. The neighbour, Johann, had asked Allen to buy a frozen snoek for a braai we were going to have that evening.

For those of you who don't know a snoek is a sea fish that is caught mainly by the Malay fishermen of the coast round Cape Town. It's been described as the South African barracuda.

Groot Marico is named after the river that flows through it and the name was made famous by the writings of Charles Herman Bosman and the one-man re-enactments of his stories by the late thespian, Patrick Mynaard.

All his tales are set in the surrounds of Groot Marico, an area he describes as: "There is no other place I know that is so heavy with atmosphere, so strangely and darkly impregnated with that stuff of life that bears the authentic stamp of South Africa."

The area's other two claims to fame are its legal and illegal mampoer stills, and and its equally dubious rows of the Cannabacaea plants that are seasonally harvested and sold giving many of the locals a healthy income and lifestyle.
Many growers of the weed have turned their love of getting high into a highly profitable business either by selling the weed itself or extracting the highly sort-after cannabis oil.

Slowly but surely, we are definitely heading towards the legalization of the use of cannabis for medical use.

When this happens, many growers may join the legal distribution network even though this will involve a lot of red tape and the receiver of revenue. An entity that puts the fear of God in all of us.

When it came to payment for my second electrical job I was asked to do, this time for Johann the following morning, I decided that the R of R would not get a look in and choose the barter method.

Johann had asked me to insert a new 30amp breaker in an external  distribution board and link it up to run a new borehole pump; normally a 500 Rand job.

I have no idea of the going price of dagga, the weed or the extracted oil, so I asked for a bank sachet of dagga and enough oil to last me a month. Johann obviously thought this was a good deal. He smiled and said, "Give me a minute." And he departed.

On his return he passed me a bulging plastic back sachet of dagga and a large jam jar filled to the brim with oil. What disturbed me though was the greyish sediment that lay at the bottom.

"You can drink the clear oil, and also use it as a rub on your skin. The stuff at the bottom is frankincense and myrrh. Great healers, aches pains, cuts and bruises."

"Right, time for a drink, Scotch or Irish?"

"Irish please."

"A man after my own heart. You and Allen can get the braai fire going while I get the toots."

After the sixth or seventh double Irish Johann announced the snoek and sweet potatoes were ready for consumption. A large sheet of clean cooking foil was laid out on the outside bar and the crispy snoek was placed atop, sprinkled with roughly crushed peppercorns, sea salt and the juice of a freshly picked garden lemon was squeezed. This caused minor eruptions as it hit the cooked surface of the fish. I peeled back the cooking foil off my sweet potato and tucked in. It was superbly divine, tender and succulent and the flavour was enhanced by a light smear of homemade apricot jam. This was Johann's suggestion and it worked a treat!

He opened a bottle of cooled dry South African white wine and in under half an hour eighteen ravenous fingers had laid bare the cooking foil leaving the fishes skeletontonial bones to be tossed onto the dying braai fire embers.

We returned to our camping chairs around the fire, wood was tossed on it, the second bottle of Jameson's was opened, and I suddenly realized why Charles Herman Bosman had so loved this area. The smoke curled gently upwards, fire-flies danced in the distance over the running spruit/stream, and the whole magical scene was enhanced by musical tweets of the night-time crickets.

The Bosman flavour filtered through embellishing our fire side conversation which encompassed religion, politics, ex-wives, past and present lovers, children and of course many jokes which certainly would not find themselves on either the air waves or the internet.

One such would be classed as racist in the new South Africa but would be classed Ok if the word "Zulu" was changed to "Irish".

You all know that Neil Armstrong was not the first human to land on the moon? No?

When he took that first step he looked across the sea of tranquility and saw a bunch of black African men sitting there surrounded by wheelbarrows, picks, spades, and cement mixers. He bounded slowly across to them. " Hi guys.  I'm Neil Armstrong, I'm supposed to be the first human on the moon. What the fuck are you doing here?"

The largest 6 foot 4 Zulu took a slow drag on his cigarette, a hefty quaff of his Carlsberg larger and said slowly, "We do fuck nothing - - till the boss arrive!!"

It is totally beyond my comprehension that if the hero in this joke was either Irish or a Polack it would not be considered racist, but in this age of political correctness I apologise to anyone I have offended.

I also apologise for meandering off my opening statement.

Old age certainly restricts the playing of my youthful addiction to a forty-five-minute session on a squad court. I also no longer go to a gymnasium, so my only physical activity is either gardening or doing handyman jobs around the house or for friends.

Cleaning the swimming pool is now a dangerous business for my rickety joints, and I must employ help to scoop out the leaves and suction-pump the sediment off the sides and bottom.

It is a labourious and boring job as when you clean, no matter how slowly you do it, some of the sediment is disturbed, clouding the water and making it difficult to see which area you have already swept. I try to be very methodical, starting at one side and going carefully round the pool, but there is always some interruption, a telephone rings, or someone, usually a manure seller in summer or an innocuous and disheveled beggar in winter at the back gate. No matter how meticulously you position the brush, so it will not slip into the pool, it always does. This requires that I start again, but by now the water is far too cloudy, so the whole operation is suspended till the following day.

All in all I have to surmise that the older one gets the longer time it takes to do anything. I’m sure all you older readers will agree. I have learnt however as long as I still enjoy the work and I can stand back and be proud of what I have accomplished, life must go on till the reaper makes his call.

C’est la vie!!!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

AN ACTING ELECTRICIAN


Building a theatre, or rather three theatres, out of an old fruit and vegetable market, that was obviously not designed for theatrical productions, is a challenging task.

I was involved in such a venture way back in the nineteen seventies.

I'd been a resident in the Republic of South Africa for a few years when I found myself in the employ of "The Company".

It comprised of a manager/founder an artistic director and about 9 renegade actors, who'd turned their backs on the apartheid run State theatre, where they'd had good salaried jobs, and decided to join a Mr Mannie Mamin,
 and create a fully racial theatrical company that would play to mixed audiences.

This was a very brave move and they knew they would be always under the watchful eye of the state security system.

At the time BOSS, the bureau of state security, was in full swing, mounting excursions into neighboring states to kill dissenters who who'd fled, imprison journalists who wrote against the apartheid regime, and tracking down young white males who had refused to join the mandatory 2-year army service.

I was asked by Mr Manim if I would meet the artist director of their group, a Mr Barney Simon. Of course, I said yes, and a meeting was arranged for the coming Monday morning.
In intervening three days I was given a copy of a play called "Fortune and men's Eyes". I was to read it but not told as to which part Barney wanted me to play.

"Fortune and Men's Eyes" is about 4 imprisoned juvenile inmates and the set is their 4-bunked cell. There is a 5th member of the cast, their warder.

I was immediately in love with the play and when I met Barney on Monday I agreed to play the young transvestite, Queenie.

Two reasons, my mother's Christian name was Queenie, and I'd never played a transvestite before.


The production was a huge box office success and I was immediately invited to join the Company and play Malvolio in Shakespeare's Twelth Night. This was also both a critical and box office success.

Both these productions were in venues that the Company had to rent as they did not have a permanent base.

That was to change when the chairman of Anglo Amercian mining house took an interest in the future of the group.

The old vegetable market at the east end of Juta street in central Johannesburg was to be demolished or put up for tender for conversion into another use.
Mr Manim and Barney Simon with their new-found friend at Anglo American immediately put a proposition to the city council.

I have no idea what political or financial strings were pulled, but what I did know was that the 12 or so young actors suddenly became carpenters, bricklayers, plumbers, painters, and electricians. We accomplished these deeds at the same time as being "Actors!"

Several of the group went into rehearsal for Chekhov's play the Seagull, which was to open in the newly created "Upstairs at the Market" theatre, later to be re-named “The Barney Simon” after his death.

But the first ever performance in the old fruit &veg market was a fund raiser.

I was asked if I'd join Barney and legendary South African actress Janet Suzman in this event called "Love and Repentance". This performance was to be held amongst the rubble and cement mixers of the "To-be-Built" new theatre.

I of course accepted the offer and along with actor Michael McCabe, musician, folk singer Keith Blundell, and Janet Suzman, we did the first ever performance in the to-be-built Market Theatre!!



It was performed around a cement mixer over which a lectern was assembled. Keith was permanently ensconced on a bar stool, with a microphone for his voice and guitar. Janet was on-stage, a 4-meter square raised rostrum, all the time and Micheal and I, in turn performed excerpts from both Shakespeare's plays and sonnets.






These duologues were joined together by Keith's dexterous plucking finger and soulful voice as he sang some of Shakespeare's songs and some of his own.

Within a week of our performance a quarter of a million Rand was raised, and the company began rehearsals for its first production to be mounted in the newly built theatre, " Upstairs at the Market".

Although the major construction was done by hired contractors the more menial tasks were tackled by us young eager thespians.

Names that I can drag from my ageing grey matter are, Vanessa Cooke, Alleta Bezuitenhout, Danny Keogh, Sue Keil, David & Di Eppel, Peter Piccolo, Michelle Maxwell, Janice Honeyman, Leone Hofmeyr, Lesley Knot and Jacquie Singer.

Refurbishing of two converted rooms into dressing rooms for the actors working in The Upstairs Theatre, was left totally in our hands, plus redecorating an area adjacent to the foyer that was to become an art gallery.

We had to do this in three weeks before the opening of Chekhov's "The Seagull" directed by Barney.

While the girls sat precariously high on scaffolding painting walls and ceilings, Danny, David, Peter and I rigged up the theatre's lighting bars and wired the dressing rooms so that every actor would have his own private make-up station.

This last action was left to me as my grandfather had been an electrician and had me help him rewire houses when I was eight years old.

We worked sixteen-hour days, those who were in rehearsal for The Seagull, were excused evening sessions.

I worked non-stop one Saturday and Sunday until I had eight stations in each of the two dressing rooms rigged with eight 60-watt globes, each with their own switch.

The opening night of The Seagull was a resounding and critical success. Four months later Marat Sade again directed by Barney opened in the main theatre. It was a momentous occasion and ran for six weeks to full houses and standing ovations.

I was in that production, in a straight-jacket and tied to a wooden bench, portraying Jacques de Roux, a paranoid serial killer. It remains one of my most enjoyable theatrical experiences.


From 1976 till the late eighties I am told that I have been in almost two hundred productions in all three of the venues at the Market Theatre.

Some of these I can't even remember as they were late-night or "Mid-night" performances.

These shows were either banned plays or plays written by people who ordinarily did not allow their works to be mounted in South Africa's apartheid state.

However, with Janet Suzman's help, Mannie & Barney managed to get permission from the playwrights.

One such production in what was called The Market Theatre Cafe, was of Stephen Berkoff's play "East" in which Marcel van Heerden and I had the first male to male French kiss on a South African stage. Lesley Knot and David Eppel, anther two painting and decorating actors, were also in the production again directed by one of my favorite directors, Mr Barney Simon.

We were scheduled to have three performances over a weekend but the queue for the tickets stretched around the newly converted building.

On the final night of the three-night performances we had people watching through small cottage pane windows that backed onto an old train loading platform that was used for deliveries to the old market.

So, it was decided to run for another two weekends until a visit from BOSS closed us down.

Although I and all the productions I was involved in over twenty-five years received great applause and critical reviews, to this day NO-ONE has ever thanked me for wiring the dressing rooms Upstairs!