homelife and a letter to planet circus

August 2, 2009

So the thing is when Madiba speaks I laugh. He says to the captain of Manchester city ‘Hey you are a baby, what are you doing here?’ And then he asks the guy who has received the obe has he ever met the queen? Then he recounts a story; when he most recently met the queen, as she was approaching him, he noticed that she had lost some weight and on meeting her had said so. By the time the meeting was over, he was astounded at how many people knew about what he had said. And what about service delivery. What the fuck? The police and government departments are talking about suppressing the resistance and also about a third force. (Can you believe they would use the same language) instead of actually just making sure that service delivery happens. The same bullshit spoken by the same kinds of politicians. And the new commissioner of police is really designed to inspire confidence; a political appointment with a cowboy hat and staggering eloquence; “Deadly force…. That means you die!” yyyyyyep.

And here a slightly edited copy of the mail I sent back to the cast of LOVE. Dear all, Molweni. We are back at home and have managed to keep very busy making theatre for a National Arts Festival in our home town. It was very exciting, frustrating, tiring, and exhilarating as all festivals should be. I had forgotten how not easy it is to live in this country. Just the energy one spends on day to day living and negotiating the every day difficulties experienced by so many people in this country. Janet and I spend pretty much every second we can in each other’s company and that is working very well! People ask me of course what was it like? ‘Wow, Circus Ole!! Amazing! so what’s it like being back? Are they all really crazy?!’ And I don’t know how to answer them except to say that yes you are all completely crazy. But since I have been back it was immediately into the kind of days I had before I left. Full on, all day, every day rehearsing and making new theatre. Small venues, talented committed company, some minimal resources, inspiring material and festival audience. Now that is over and Janet and I have had a few days to recover and spend some time just going to the coast and exploring and just being at home together with Daniel. And I think back on the time with you guys and I realize how much I miss. I miss the training room, even though I more or less deserted it for the last few months. I miss very much being on stage with you all and playing the track every night with the anticipations of all the encounters with each of you during the performance. How would it be tonight? For the festival I directed two productions; the one a play, written by Brink Scholtz, the resident director of our company, called The Swimming Lesson. Beautiful play about a woman who loses her child and goes on a quest and meets a number of others from some of the very different worlds that exist in this country. The play begins with the worst that could happen and then gently and beautifully moves toward redemption and hope through the unlikely connections that people can make. It needs some more work, but it is very beautiful if I say so myself. The other was a short play Stilted, by Richard Antrobus, about a man on stilts.. who would have thought? A funny and nice and risky theatre thing using some nice circus things. Daniel worked with an amazing group from Zambia (that’s just north of Zimbabwe) lots of balancing, acrobatics and fire eating. They were combined with a local group who have been learning theatre skills for a few years. Five years ago they were kids living on the street and spending more time with their noses in a glue bag than out of trouble. They made a play about water and rivers and dams. Water is a daily survival issue for so many people here. It was really funny and moving and current. Daniel is busy now getting my car into a state in which he can buy it and then he is leaving for Johannesburg next week to re-connect with friends and his career. We will miss him. Back at home I have started to get to know the new dog. A young bitch of the weimeraner breed named Beatrix. ‘Yeah dat’s right muh fuh; Beatrix! And take note that that ‘beat’ in her name is a diphthong;( think of ‘bee-atch!’ and then add on ‘tricks’ after and you’ve pretty much got her name beeatt-tricks. Ask Jimmie for the translation.) Anyway this dog, sorry beeatch, is extremely intelligent and crafty and naughty but has got down her schtick; ‘Oh my god did I do that? Oh no this isn’t good. This is bad. Someone’s been bad here. I wonder who? Yes I know that you know it’s me but perhaps someone else might own up before… wait a minute! Okay, yes I did it and you can spank my arse if you … yes but dam I’m pretty?! Aren’t I? Sooo cute!! do you see how the light plays on the little lashes around my snout as I playfully roll over and lick your shoes and, and, and can you see how fast my tail is wagging? That is speed baby! That is some high intensity happy in fact I haven’t quite managed to master the secret of wagging my tail without wiggling my arse. In fact without my whole body vibrating like a three and a half foot vibrating thing with teeth and a slobbery smile…And see how easy it was to forgive me? When do I get a biscuit, now?’ She is the re-incarnation of one of the few fuckers who escaped from Alcatraz. She can find a 3 inch hole in a fence five miles long. And she can squeeze her disobedient little ass through that three inch hole and cause havoc with the neighbours’ garbage and do all this in the space of fifteen minutes. So before you even know she’s been gone she’s back on her bed pretending to yawn and wake up from a long sleep. And just then the phone rings and the neighbour is on the line saying she has just chased the dog out of her trash cans. ‘Who, me?’ Bee-atch. Zeke, the old man, well the male dog who is actually only about seven, injured himself while we were away and damaged his back rather badly, he was put on steroids and lost a lot of weight and looks nothing like his former self. He used to be like a small horse and now the skin hangs off him. I am taking him to a vet a hundred miles from here next week to see if an operation will fix him. He walks around a little bit like Valeriy when his back is giving him shit. The university has approached me I think to talk about re-negotiating my contract so that I spend more time teaching here. And a big part of me is inclined to agree. I am not sure that I have the energy and drive to make the required commercial output to keep Janet and myself in the manner to which we would become accustomed. Make no mistake I am riddled with energy and drive but not to go and do corporate launches and the odd gig here and there like I used to have. Surviving as an actor in such a remote and small place means going away a lot. I am enjoying being here for a while and I have freed myself from the pressure to ‘Make a new earth shattering work before everyone thinks you’re a has-been that never was… la di da’. Things just seem to get worse and worse recession wise and I am sure you are glad to have the two weekly. I know I was. And in fact I still am…The house is mine, mine mine. I happily flip the bird at the bank every time I drive past. I think the recession has been manipulated by the powers that be to give governments like ours the excuse to cut back on public spending. Otherwise I am back to acting like a teacher at the university here. I am a professor. What do I profess? Ignorance. The time at cirque gave me time to reflect and I feel much more energized to teach and make work and I feel strong. I feel like a buffalo back here… ready to take on anything and anyone. And things are making me angry again. Angry like I used to feel as a young man at the fuck-ups that were around me. And I am seeing them again around me and getting angry enough again to say so. I send more love than you could possibly cope with, Andrew Nate please pass this onto the g men; (dressing room g) Dear dressing room g I miss the dressing room rituals. Ekenah on his computer skyping some one in Portuguese and then listening to fascinating new age excitations from TED and then ‘who whooo yeh yeh yeh I’m amazed…I can’t believe it. Look I just get more beautiful every day’… then Daniel calling me with three syllables in a one syllable word, because he had misplaced his keys or we were negotiating the use of our car that night after the show. And then jimmie and joel mimicking and mocking his accent. Joel cheerfully putting on his freckles ‘open your heart daniel’ and spiking his hair before heading down the corridor for mysterious meetings with kati. I miss jimmie’s john-coltrane-saxophone-solo laugh and excitement at the little things in life and the joy at the big things. I miss the pranks, I am happy to say never on me personally… (the advantages of being older and keepings cards close to the chest so nobody knows what you’re capable of)…and then eugen or yevgeni. I so miss watching you play father mac. It was possible I was going to look to do a version of Inside at another festival in September, but that has fallen through and I am looking to spend some time here working on it in between teaching before I propose it for theatres. I miss sitting next to valeriy and being challenged by translation and interpretation requests, as well as being engulfed in a bear hug and hearing the details of his stock trading training. A man with a heart way too big to fit his laughably puny frame. Then nate. There’s something I should be telling you now that I am out of range of nate’s violent rage… the man is a fake. Calls himself a fool. Oh yes and plays the fool with alacrity. Very convincingly. At almost any time you look at him or watch him for more than a few minutes and you’ll be saying affectionately to yourself ‘that silly fool!!’ but I got to know that man and let me tell you that this is a front. This is a mask, this is a deception. For behind the façade of the fool lurks a shrewd fucker. A sharp little sausage with very refined perception and understanding, and with palpably hazardous generosity, and… for heaven’s sake, have you met his girlfriend? We’re the fools for not getting her first.. the nightly transformation of pure kinetic energy into light energy made the end of the dressing room glow and vibrate. In fact it was more likely vibrating because you had just farted. Such energy contained in such horse knees. Such fine talent held in such bony legs. To the greatest fool I know. I miss just silently putting on make up while you were doing the same. Well actually no… I think I miss more, exchanging unpleasantries about don and catpee.

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3 Responses to “homelife and a letter to planet circus”

  1. Amy Booysen Says:

    Andrew, this has just made me laugh so much! I realise a lot of it is context specific…but you are a very funny guy! And i am privileged to have you as my lecturer! 🙂

  2. Val Says:

    So I recently got invited by 2 separate friends to go and see 2 separate shows, “theatre” they called it. One a feline musical and the other a homage to slaves at the Market. The former I abhor, the latter, for whatever reason, made me once again think about the great Mr. Andrew Buckland. Oh I do miss you Mr. Buckland. Call me narrow-minded, but when it comes to theatre there is a very thick and solid line I draw, some might call it a brick wall. I put it down to my first experiences with the fascinating physical theatre of Andrew Buckland and Lionel somebody. So I just wanted to tell you that. That now that you are all cirqued up and a bigger shot than ever before, will we ever get a chance to see you perform again, and will I miss you even more.

    If you had a Twitter account, I’ll follow you forever.


  3. Hi there, interesting web site, just want to ask you what antispam system you use for filtering out junk websites because I am getting so many spammers on my site.


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