The great and the good of South African theatre gathered at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town on Sunday evening for the 51st annual Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards, which celebrated the young and the old, the legendary and the avant garde of South African theatre.
A gala event that honoured Dr John Kani – giant of the theatre, at home and abroad – with a Lifetime Achievement Award also saw the Zabalaza Theatre Festival celebrated for their contribution to the development of new South African work.
Kani received the award for his vast contribution to theatre over a long and illustrious career.
Zabalaza Theatre Festival was given the Award for Innovation in Theatre for their contribution to the development of new South African work by providing a platform for artists who want to venture into acting, stage management, writing and directing.
The Zabalaza commendation described the festival as having begun its journey as a community theatre festival and having grown into a community of theatre, of writers, theatre makers, actors, audience members and musicians.
“If you want to take the temperature of a nation, read its literature; if you want to measure its heartbeat, watch its theatre.”
“For six years the heartbeat of community theatre has been pulsing at the Baxter theatre. If you weren’t aware of what was on the heart and minds of the majority of the country, a day watching the Zabalaza programme would have put you in touch with what matters,” the commendation read.
Awards were presented in 18 different categories with winners receiving R15 000 and a newly designed silver medallion. They were chosen from 86 productions in 2015, with Samsa-masjien and Orpheus both garnering a clutch of awards.
In addition, 66 student performances were considered for the Most Promising Student Award.
The ceremony, directed by Thando Doni, provided a veritable feast of entertainment from stars of the local scene, including Ama Africa Marimba Band, Alan Parker, sitar player Naresh Chauhan, Lingua Franca Spoken Word Movement, Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers, Music van de Caab with Zenobia Kloppers and Tribal Echo, Bovim Ballet, Sibonelo Dance Company, young violinist Anele Mhlahlo, saxophonist Heinrich Isaacs and an Afrikaans medley by Pedro Kruger.
The event was hosted by Africa Melane together with Lynelle Kenned, who also won the award in the category Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Maria in the Fugard Theatre’s production of West Side Story. The evening concluded with jazzy and contemporary vibes by live jazz band Breakfast Included.
The event showcased a fusion of cultures, food and wine, incorporating the awards’ role in the growth of South African theatre. It was a celebration of the partnerships over the past 51 years between theatre spaces, actors, creatives, technicians, Fleur du Cap wines and the Distell Foundation, both sponsors of the awards.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEAD ACTOR IN A PLAY
Gerben Kamper for Samsa-masjien as Gregor Samsa
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEAD ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Sandra Prinsloo for Die Seemeeu as Irina Nikolajewna Arkadina
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A PLAY
Sven Ruygrok for Epstein: The Man Who Made the Beatles as This Boy
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Cintaine Schutte for Die Seemeeu as Masja
BEST PERFORMANCE IN A REVUE, CABARET OR ONE-PERSON SHOW
Graham Weir for Dead Yellow Sands as various characters
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEAD ACTOR IN A MUSICAL OR MUSIC THEATRE SHOW
Aubrey Poo for Orpheus in Africa as Orpheus McAdoo
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEAD ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL OR MUSIC THEATRE SHOW
Lynelle Kenned for West Side Story as Maria
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL OR MUSIC THEATRE SHOW
Sne Dladla for Orpheus in Africa as various characters
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL OR MUSIC THEATRE SHOW
Jill Levenberg for Orpheus in Africa as Lucy Moten
AWARD FOR MOST PROMISING STUDENT
Kiroshan Naidoo from UCT
Jaco Bouwer for Samsa-masjien
BEST LIGHTING DESIGN
Guy de Lancey for Dead Yellow Sands
BEST SET DESIGN
Jaco Bouwer for Samsa-masjien
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Birrie le Roux for Orpheus in Africa
BEST SOUND DESIGN, ORIGINAL MUSIC COMPOSITION OR ORIGINAL SCORE
Pierre-Henri Wicomb for Samsa-masjien – Soundscape and original score
BEST PUPPETRY DESIGN – NO AWARD FOR 2015 PRODUCTIONS
BEST NEW SOUTH AFRICAN SCRIPT
Samsa-masjien by Willem Anker
ROSALIE VAN DER GUCHT PRIZE FOR NEW DIRECTORS
Mdu Kweyama for Missing