Who’s Upstairs: Maggie Gericke

Maggie Grey-2Maggie Gericke performs in Anthology: Young Bloods, on at Alexander Upstairs from 13-26 March.

Home town?
Somerset West. Scumerset West. Somerset Best. Depending on how forgiving you’re feeling.

Tell us a little more about your show?
Anthology: Young Bloods. Three Playwrights from Stellenbosch/Cape Town. Three shortish scenes. Two actors. One theme.

Anthology is an important and entertaining project. Previous editions have been written by established Cape Town playwrights, including Nicholas Spagnoletti (London Road), Louis Viljoen (Pervert Laura, The Kingmakers) and Jon Keevy (Owl). This edition, with the theme Young Bloods, has asked recent graduates who want to take part to submit new writing. Same goes for the actors. Kiroshan and I are both recent graduates. (He’s nominated for a fluer du cap for most promising student, got our fingers crossed :))

We’re performing three dark tales from three lovely writers. Coma Null by Louis Roux is a darkly absurd look at what romantic relationships can deteriorate into. Reparations by Ameera Conrad is a reflection of the confounding circus that is our governmental politics and what happens when populist opinion turns fatal. And finally Eat, Dear by Kei Ella Loewe, takes a look at what happens when a young adult descendes into the morass of Cape Town’s restaurant service industry, middle class aspirations and existential mental disasters. All three are kindly directed by Louis Viljoen.

And what’s next on the cards for you?
I’m really grateful for the small roles I get to fill behind the scenes at Alexander Bar, admin, design, tickets, tea maker. Seeing how a theatre can be run as a business from the inside is invaluable. And it’s such a great group of people. I’ll stop gushing by the end of this sentence, I have so much respect for the small team they have here and am very grateful to Jon Keevy for this opportunity to learn and grow.

Next on the cards, well hopefully I’ll be doing another play at Alexander Bar in August/September. Can’t make promises yet. I am also planning to take my photography further. I’ve got a blog of theatre and leisure photography at https://botchednarrative.wordpress.com/
(I haven’t updated it in a while, though)

And the project you’re dreaming of?
To play the female lead in David Hare’s Skylight. Ja. That would be fuckin’ amazing.
To direct Kate Tempest’s Hopelessly Devoted. I’m somewhat obsessed with her. She is an exceptional artist and young woman.
To have the access, time and resources to do a long term photography project with stage actors as subject matter during the half hour before they go on stage (It’s inspired by/ stolen from Simon Annand’s work)

How did you get into theatre?
When I was 9 I sang/sqwuaked the Animaniacs’s comedic rendition that recites ALL the presidents of the United States to my entire VERY afrikaans Grade three class. They didn’t know what was going on. But the teacher was fairly encouraging. I feel it’s important to note that this is LONG before the rise of YouTube. I sat for hours one evening rewinding and relistening to the entire animaniacs song that I’d managed to record on vhs and trying to notate all the lyrics. Needless the say the spelling mistakes were plenty and the videomachine destroyed.

Dinner with any two figures from history: who would you invite and what would you serve them?
Susan Sontag, she had such exceptional insights into human beings and the world around her. Having the opportunity to be in her presence and enjoy her conversation would be priceless. I’d make us Moussaka as a main course and Malva pudding for desert.
Dan Eldon, he’s inspired me a lot. He was my role model as an adolescent. I’d serve chicken curry madras and a heartstopping cheesecake for desert.

Favorite spot in Cape Town (besides Alexander Bar, obviously)?
The Labia theatre.
Also the top of a certain building I’m not meant to have access to.

What excites you about theatre?
It’s such a shared experience. With audience and performers. It’s live. And there’s nothing like trusting the person you’re performing with. You expose yourself to this mad experiment on stage together, It’s a very special kind of bonding.

Making a project together. Talking life and stuff with your team. Trying to make exceptional and entertaining work together. Learning from one another. Definitely the teamwork aspect is something that is very precious to me, even though I’m a total introvert and need hours and hours of rehearsing and napping by myself.

What mistakes have you made and learned the most from?
Um, I will always regret that I laboured under the misconception that being part of the school choir clashed too much with my tomboy image (Maggie aged 7). I could’ve had way more confidence in my vocality by this stage, had I joined in sub b. So that’s more of a regret than a mistake.

I’ve made so many mistakes. The more rediculous of which involved a beer keg, a six hour hike and my hair clotted in blood.

I guess the mistake that I’ve learned from most, is the one that’s been most insiduously present in my life. Self criticism is useful up to a point. But when it becomes crippling and causes you to see things (mainly yourself, your flaws and your lack of achievements) through a totally sludge covered lens, you have a problem. Too much self loathing and exacting standards can be hugely inhibiting and debilitating. Although it comes from a place concerned with being good (enough) it can end up making you excessively self-concerned, which is a total energy drain. The point is you’re so much more open to input and growth when you’re not constantly telling yourself how crap you are. You could be using your time and resources for energising constructive things. Observing the complicated, rediculous, fucked up world around you, making mistakes, trying to be present, appreciating your friends, exploring your interests and working hard. Hope there’s some semblance of sense in there.

Who do you think people should be talking about?
I love Louis Viljoen’s work. His voice is irreverent, funny and super smart.
Kathleen Stephens is badass actress. Seriously. I also think she is growing leaps and bounds as a director and is concerned with very pertinent subject matter. She’s one of the founders of the Hungry Minds theatre company.
Lady Aria Grey (Callum Tilbury), a totally madcap, brilliant, actor, writer and theatre maker. Catch his show The Pitch at Alex Bar until Saturday 9PM.
Both of these chaps are so inspiring in the risks they take to be actively involved in theatre and make their projects happen.
I’m also really excited to see more of Ameera Conrad as she steps into the professional theatre world.