As i reflect back on what has been the most bizarre year for the world in my lifetime, one person’s name pops up a lot more than most: Megan Furniss Choritz. 

We have been friends since 1999 – well, that’s the year we met and i stepped into her Improv world and so friends probably happened a year or two later. Especially as one of my final moves before leaving for an 18-month journey to the UK, Holland and Malawi in 2000 was to piss off the whole crew and then run… But through persistent contact and much generosity from the most generous Improv crew, i was welcomed back and friendship followed quickly after.

A Moment on the Homepoca-lips

Pandemic memories with Megan include starting a YouTube channel called ‘Character Stories for Children’ in which her character Nota Thingrimes Weethorinj was a fan favourite, especially when she illustrated her own made-up story for Ice is Nice; a trip to the delightful and oh-so-special kids [and artist] Qanduqandu Art Exhibition with Khanya and Kids after Megan got involved to help organise art supplies, a space to exhibit and more; a number of completely made-up and made-for-Zoom socially distanced Improv shows and finally a live [for us but Zoom for the audience] Corporate Improv show which was such a breath of fresh uncontaminated air in the midst of a pandemic; celebrating the release of her most beautiful and clever Kids Storybook [in poem]: The Big Bird Battle [and maybe getting a sneak peek of the poem when it was a work in progress] and so much more. We have shared many quite extreme highs and lows through the magical powers of the internet and our smartphones.

But one of the memories that stands out the most and which has become a largely weekly tradition is the Monday early evening Zoom around Whiteness.

Whiteness with Megan

This probably started about four months ago and i don’t even remember how or specifically why. It may have been just after i discovered Streamyard as a platform where two people could have an online conversation together. But we decided to have a conversation about Whiteness and set it up and fought against major lag and internet shenanigans and somehow made it through.

i can’t even remember what the first one was about. 

Megan Choritz

Who was it for, anyway?

Megs and i have been working in the spaces of race and justice and engagement in a lot of informal ways for a number of years now. i have learned so much from her as she has been doing it for so much longer than me and we have very different styles and ways and even perspectives. But for some reason [despite being quite different people in so many ways, shapes and forms] we seem to compliment each other well. So it was an easy thing for a once-off Whiteness conversation to very quickly become a thing.

The videos seemed to be getting a lot of views and we had a number of regulars who would jump in while we were live and throw put questions or add statements and really build the engagement. So it felt like we were doing something that a number of people were finding helpful. As white people, Megan and i both believe that the predominant work we have to do [and have any kind of authority to do] is going to be with white people.

Helping people to engage with things we have wrestled with, learned, unlearned, discovered, realised, gotten wrong and are still trying to figure out. 

Then Something Changed

When we started making the videos i had this inward sense that we were doing this for other people. Sharing the lessons we have learned.

But as we continued to meet up and have conversation around whatever new topic had been in the news or was pressing on our minds or hearts, i discovered two things:

  • We became more comfortable. i’m not sure how Megan experienced it, but for me, especially in the last 6 to 8 weeks, there was a sense of it becoming less of a lecture and more of a conversation. i felt a lot more at ease and it started to feel a lot more natural. i started to enjoy the times a whole lot more than i had before and really walk away going ‘That was great!’
  • i started learning things. Week after week i walked away from our conversation having been challenged or inspired or seen something a different way than i used to. And i started to realise that these engagements were for me as well. Comments that viewers were making. And especially when my friend Hani Du Toit guested a few times. Which is not hugely surprising, because i know i still have so much to learn about this stuff, but i guess i was just not expecting it in that space. And it was amazing when it started happening week after week.

i hope that ‘Whiteness with Megan’ conversations have made a difference to others out there. But, even if they haven’t, they have taught me a great deal. And just getting to hang with a good friend who i respect and care for – and who has had as kak a lockdown as a change in her name might suggest – on a regular basis as we try to wrap our minds around things which are standing in the way of our country being a better place for everyone, has been a definite highlight of Pandemic times.

i am VERY MUCH looking forward to a bumper edition as we finish off on the 14th of December with two incredible powerhouse women Hani du Toit and Asanda Ngoasheng joining us for a reflection on the year as it pertains to Whiteness. And i hope we will see you there.

Thank you Megan for surviving a 20 year friendship with me and for always pulling me in the direction of Justice for all. One of my happiest life memories is seeing you at my pool parties in Stellenbosch engaged in conversation with my parents [who i know you love, and who love you] who are even somehow more different to you than i am, and just the simple and deep connections that you have had with each other along the way.

i appreciate your words and your art and your story-telling and your amazing gifts at directing and acting and Improv’ing and so much more. i appreciate you! 

To be fair, it is going to be pretty hard for you to ever beat the best dramatic show poster ever made for a 2 person Improv session of note… 

Megan Furniss Improv