Cape Town production company, F Creations is digitally staging three productions at the vNAF video-on-demand platform
The vNAF (Virtual National Arts Festival) is on from June 25, 2020 (8am) and runs until July 5. Cape Town production company F Creations is taking three productions to the vFringe video-on-demand platform. These shows will be available for streaming on the vFringe platform for the 11 days of the festival. They may be watched at any time during the festival.
The three F Creations productions at vFringe video-on-demand:
- Your Perfect Life – 2019 Standard Bank Ovation Award recipient – R50. Performers: Erika Marais and Faeron Wheeler. 50 minutes
- Jam Every Other Day– R50. Performer: Erika Marais. 70 minutes
- So You Want to be A Trophy Wife? R50. Performer: Sue Diepeveen. 52 minutes
✅ Tickets: https://nationalartsfestival.co.za/
✅ Description: Comedy/dramas at the vNAF -Virtual National Festival 2020
✅ Producer of the above shows: F Creations
✅ Producer contact details: Faeron Wheeler email@example.com
✅ NAF helpline and ‘chat’ online: Open between 7am and midnight. Call between 9am and 10pm on 0860 002 000 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Faeron Wheeler of F Creations rose to the challenge when it was announced that the NAF would be hosted digitally this year, due to the Covid-19. She gives insights into F Creations on the vFringe – video-on-demand. Wheeler talks about what the company is taking to the vNAF and some of the challenges involved in recording live work for a digital format:
TheCapeRobyn: You had already been accepted to be part of the fringe and were on track to get to Makhanda. Covid hit. Can you talk about how you have approached taking your productions into digital? Have you filmed in the format of National Theatre Live or have you used the medium of film to bring in other elements- such as AV and music elements?
Faeron Wheeler: It was quite a shock to the system when the festival in its physical form was cancelled so soon after the pandemic hit our shores. The virtual idea seemed like a good one but everyone knew it was going to be a hell of a big challenge – especially with lockdown and the uncertainty around when and how we were going to be able to start creating. Originally we were taking Your Perfect Life and So You Want to be a Trophy Wife? up as part of The Edge’s curated venue at the Fringe. With the massive change in the format of the festival, we decided to add on Jam Every Other Day. Erika Marais was around and rehearsing for Your Perfect Life, so why not film her one-woman show too. Right from the start, our idea was to film the stage show in the same kind of style as the NT Live -obviously without their wonderful budget though. I didn’t want it to be a movie, but rather as close to the experience of watching live theatre as we can get in the digital realm.
TheCapeRobyn: Can you talk about the process. You used three cameras?
Faeron Wheeler: It is very handy having someone in your team who owns their own theatre. Sue Diepeveen very kindly got The Drama Factory compliant with the lockdown regulations under Level 4 and then 3, so that we had a safe space to rehearse and film. We also had a lot of support from The Edge curators – Wynne Bredenkamp and Emma Kotze – who took the time to engage with the Fringe and NAF organisers on our behalf to see how best to proceed. On the days of filming, we had the theatre set up with three cameras – one for a wide shot of the whole stage and two for closer, detail shots. We started with Jam Every Other Day and filmed the whole thing in one take. Next up was Your Perfect Life, and then a few days later we filmed So You Want to be a Trophy Wife? – both also done in one take each. The editors then used the feeds from all three cameras to do a technique they called live editing the action on stage. The end result is fairly true to the idea of a live performance since we didn’t cut or stop the action at any point and then restart it.
TheCapeRobyn: Your company has funded this –not cheap – perhaps cheaper than going to the festival itself?
Faeron Wheeler: Filming is not cheap, but you are right in that it has worked out cheaper in the long run after you take accommodation and travel costs into account. I’d still rather be going to the actual festival though.
TheCapeRobyn: The negative of not being live has given you the opportunity to archive your work and potentially monetize it in the future?
Faeron Wheeler: It’s true, we could look to further monetise these recordings once the festival is done. However, I’m not so sure we want to. These are all productions that thrive on the feedback of a live audience and the idea of more and more people in the future watching them without that give and take of emotions is a little sad to me. I think the future of these recordings, once the festival is over, is to use as reference material if we wish to tour the productions overseas and as marketing content – we can cut some great trailers for social media. For now though, it’s a wonderful opportunity to continue to create and to bring some form of theatre to audiences who are stuck at home.
TheCapeRobyn: It must have been hectic filming these productions in lockdown?
Faeron Wheeler: It was certainly a challenge. The announcement about the virtual festival came out just before we went into the big lockdown. During that time, we had a number of Zoom and Skype meetings – the F Creations team, the Edge team, the NAF webinars – and then it was a bit of a waiting game. Towards the end of level 4, The Drama Factory opened up and we could head out there to rehearse before filming. At that point, it was all systems go because the deadline for vFringe was suddenly very close and we had a lot to get through. It was not the ideal situation, but theatre folk are nothing if not adaptable. I’m so grateful to be part of such an amazing and supportive team. Both Sue and Erika are an incredible source of inspiration and support in the F Creations team, and Emma and Wynne from The Edge are definitely my kind of theatre people.
TheCapeRobyn: Can you talk about the three productions?
Faeron Wheeler: Your Perfect Life is a show that is very close to my heart. Erika and I wrote it last year and brought Sue in to direct. The piece is loosely autobiographical in that the two characters Erika and I play are based on our own lives. The production debuted at the NAF Fringe last year , and we received a Standard Bank Ovation Award for it – a complete dream come true. The play is set at a 20-year high school reunion, where Caitlyn and Karlien reunite after not seeing each other for almost that entire 20-year stretch. They were close friends at school, but time, personal circumstances and vastly different life choices split them apart and kept them apart. While the pair rehash old memories, they do that one thing we know we are not supposed to do but for some reason just can’t help but do – compare our lives to the person in front of us.
Jam Every Other Day is a one-woman show written and performed by Erika Marais, and directed by Celia Musikanth. For as long as I’ve known Erika (we met in 2013), she’s been talking about writing this show based on the memoir of Emmaleen Kriel. I was so proud of her when she finally got to the point where she was ready to perform back in 2017 that I jumped at the opportunity to make it the second production to be produced under the F Creations banner. We toured the show around Cape Town from its debut in October that year, and then took it to Hermanus Fynarts and the NAF Fringe in 2018. The show has even toured to Hong Kong, with a performance there in January this year.
So You Want to be a Trophy Wife? is the brainchild of Sue Diepeveen. She’s been working on the idea for a number of years, and even did a version of it a few years ago as sort of a trial run. Towards the end of last year, after working with F Creations for Your Perfect Life, Sue asked me if I would be interested in producing for her, and since I think Sue is brilliant, I said yes pretty much immediately. Sue also had the very talented Wynne Bredenkamp on board to direct already, which made the decision even easier. We were set to debut at NAF Fringe this year with the overhauled script and new direction, and thankfully can still do so – just in a very different way.
TheCapeRobyn: So You Want to be a Trophy Wife? was already written and ready for the NAF when the pandemic hit? This is the premiere?
Faeron Wheeler: Ready is a bit of a strong word… The concept was there and all the players were ready to go. Sue was in the process of working on the script when the world ground to a halt, with rehearsals due to take place in the weeks leading up to the festival. Once the lockdown was lifted enough for us to get back to it, things became incredibly hectic with three shows to rehearse and film in a short space of time, plus everyone juggling other work. I’m proud of how Sue and Wynne pulled this show together in amongst the chaos and am looking forward to presenting it to the public – and one day seeing Sue perform it for a live audience when we are able to do so again, safely. This show and Sue’s performance deserve the laughs and the emotional feedback they’ll no doubt get from people in the theatre, but for now, I hope the virtual public will love it as much as I do.
TheCapeRobyn: Anything else to add about the VFringe vod?
Faeron Wheeler: I’d like to say thank you to the NAF organisers for having the foresight to make the decision about going digital when they did. They’ve given us a way to carry on doing what we love, and to try and reach an even bigger audience than ever before. It’s a wonderful thing and I hope that the virtual NAF is a big success for everyone involved.
Review of My Perfect Life is on TheCapeRobyn. Link: https://thecaperobyn.co.za/review-your-perfect-life-at-alexander-bar-cafe-and-theatre/