Fleur du Cap Awards: honouring theatre excellence

fleur du cap winners

The Fleur du Cap winners.

THE winners of the 51st annual Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards were announced at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town on Sunday, March 20.

The biggest winners on the night were Samsa-masjien which won five awards and Orpheus in Africa, which took home four.

west side story

Jonathan Roxmouth and Lynelle Kenned in West Side Story. Kenned, who co-hosted the ceremony, was named best actress in a musical.

The awards were hosted by Africa Melane and Lynelle Kenned, who 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 glamorous audience was made up of the Who’s Who of the South African theatre scene, dignitaries, and members of the public.

The ceremony was directed by Thando Doni; and the onstage entertainment included: 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 evening concluded in spectacular fashion with jazzy and contemporary vibes by Breakfast Included.

Doni’s concept showcased a fusion of cultures, food and wine giving rise to new beginnings, incorporating the Awards’ unique role in the growth of South African theatre and celebrating the synergy and 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.

The Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards have been honouring theatre excellence for over five decades. Category winners each received R15 000 and a newly designed silver medallion.

A total of 86 productions were eligible in 2015. In addition, 66 student performances were considered for the most promising student award. Nominees in the student category are judged on their body of work throughout 2015.

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Ismail Mohamed. Photo: Suzy Bernstein

Ismail Mohamed, artistic director of the National Arts Festival, sent the following message to the organisers: “Despite all of our digital delivery systems, there will always be a need for audiences and performers to connect in the same space. That instinct is as old as mankind, and it will never go away.

“Thank you to Irma Albers , Melanie Burke and the people who kept our theatre lights burning and to all the folks at Distell for 51 years of sponsoring the Awards. It is a sponsorship that goes beyond just recognizing the people who work in our industry. It is 51 years of contributing to nation-building because THEATRE gives us a voice to be loud and to engage each other as we determinedly continue to build a democracy that will bring about real change in South Africa!”

Awards were presented in 18 different categories with two special awards being presented on the night. The immensely talented and legendary Dr John Kani was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for his vast contribution to theatre over a long and successful career.

john kani

John Kani.

Commenting on Kani’s lifetime achievement award, a delighted Mohamed said: “Yesterday’s double win for Port Elizabeth creates an opportunity to reclaim its place in the way South African theatre history is written. John Kani was awarded a Fleur du Cap Lifetime Achievement Award and Nomhle Nkonyeni was awarded a SAFTA Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Both have their beginnings in Port Elizabeth with the Serpent Players Much of the history about the Serpent Players has faded out of books being written about South African theatre

“Congratulations to Nomhle Nkonyeni on being awarded the SAFTA Lifetime Achiever’s Award. In 2014, the National Arts Festival awarded this grand dame of South African theatre the Standard Bank Standing Ovation Award.”

The Zabalaza Theatre Festival received the Award for Innovation in Theatre for their phenomenal 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.

Mahomed said: “Congratulations to the Zabalaza Festival for winning the Fleur du Cap Innovations in Theatre Award. Thami AkaMbongo it is fantastic that your work is being recognised. Congratulations to everyone at the Baxter Theatre.”

The judges for the 2015 productions were Africa Melane, Dr Beverley Brommert, Christine Moritz, Eugene Yiga, Gillian Mitchell, Herman van der Westhuizen, Johan van Lill, Marina Griebenow, Peter Tromp, Steyn du Toit and Tracey Saunders.

The panel, made up largely of local critics, journalists, writers and drama educators was chaired by non-voting Melanie Burke. Voting is by secret ballot and all processes are strictly overseen and audited by the legal firm Cluver Markotter Inc.

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Samsa-masjien, conceptualised by Jaco Bouwer and Willem Anker and written by Anker, won five Fleur du Cap awards. 

The full list of winners is:

  • Best performance by a led actor in a play: Gerben Kamper for Samsa-masjien (Gregor Samsa).
  • Best performance by a lead actress in a play: Sandra Prinsloo for Die Seemeeu (Irina Nikolajewna Arkadina).
  • Best performance by a supporting actor in a play: Sven Ruygrok for Epstein: The Man Who Made the Beatles (This Boy).
  • Best performance by a supporting actress in a play: Cintaine Schutte for Die Seemeeu (Masja).
  • Best performance in a revue, cabaret or one-person show: Graham Weir for Dead Yellow Sands (various characters).
  • Best performance by a lead actor in a musical or music theatre show: Aubrey Poo for Orpheus in Africa (Orpheus McAdoo).
  • Best performance by a lead actress in a musical or music theatre show: Lynelle Kenned West Side Story (Maria).
  • Best performance by a supporting actor in a musical or music theatre show: Sne Dladla for Orpheus in Africa (various characters).
  • Best performance by a supporting actress in a musical or music theatre show: Jill Levenberg for Orpheus in Africa (Lucy Moten).
  • Award for most promising student: Kiroshan Naidoo from UCT.
  • Best director: 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 new South African script: Samsa-masjien by Willem Anker.
  • Rosalie van der Gucht prize for new directors: Mdu Kweyama for Missing.
orpheus

Audrey Poo, winner of the award for lead actor in a musical for Orpheus in Africa. It was one of four awards for the David Kramer musical hosted at the Fugard Theatre.

The 52nd Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards will be held at the Artscape Theatre in March 2017.

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