National Arts Festival rewards arts community as festival closes


Outgoing National Arts Festival artistic director, Ismail Mahomed.

ARTISTIC excellence was celebrated at the National Arts Festival on Sunday morning (July 10) when the winners of the 2016 Standard Bank Ovation Awards were revealed at a ceremony which also honoured outgoing National Arts Festival artistic director, Ismail Mahomed.

Commenting on the impact of the awards, Mahomed said: “The Ovation Awards have earned a significant gravitas in the arts sector. They have become a barometer for audiences and visiting arts managements about productions that should not be missed. Artists at the festival have been bold and have used their talents and skills to engage with burning issues in the most creative ways.”

The 2016 Standard Bank Standing Ovation Award was presented to the French Institute of South Africa and the Embassy of France for two decades of supporting visionary collaborations and exchanges between South African and French artists.

A Standard Bank Standing Ovation Award was also presented to Gary Gordon to honour his longstanding creative energy in South Africa’s cultural life and his enormously significant contributions to the vitality of the National Arts Festival’s main, fringe and arena programmes.

A surprise Standing Ovation Award was presented to Ismail who ends his tenure as artistic director of the festival at the end of July.

Speaking at the announcement, NAF chief executive officer, Tony Lankester, recognised the nine-year commitment that Mahomed had made to the Festival, saying that he had “transformed the programme, filled it with richness and left a lasting legacy of excellence”.

drama for life2

Drama For Life wins the Adelaide Tambo Human Rights Award at National Arts Festival.

The Adelaide Tambo Human Rights Award

The 2016 Adelaide Tambo Award for Human Rights went to Drama for Life, a global leader in the integrated approach to arts for social transformation and healing. Their performances and public engagement initiatives explore, serve and grow the role of arts for social change.

At the 2016 National Arts Festival, Drama For Life presented Afri-Queer, a production that brought together artists from across South Africa’s borders to give a voice that humanises and gives dignity to those who continue to be oppressed.

Drama for Life has also devised and executed the Festival’s 2016 Remix Laboratory programme.

Standard Bank Ovations Awards

Standard Bank Ovations Awards are only given to new productions on the National Lottery Fringe. Once a production has been awarded an Ovation Award, the company is invited to propose a new work to the following year’s arena programme.

The National Lotteries Commission contributed R10 million to the Fringe this year, and assumed naming rights to the event.

“The National Lotteries Commission is honoured to have been the principal funder of the National Lottery Fringe and congratulates all the worthy Ovation winners,” said National Lotteries Commission media representative Sershan Naidoo. “The NLC is proud to have been able to provide a platform for the talent that has been recognised at this year’s National Arts Festival”.

Of the more than 318 productions and performances submitted to the National Lottery Fringe this year, 232 were premiers and eligible for consideration for an award.

Tracey Saunders, chairwoman of the Standard Bank Ovations Awards said: “The new productions on this year’s programme ranged from the staging of familiar South African texts to established international scripts, deeply personal monologues to epic family sagas and some ground-breaking new texts straddling the terrain in between.”

Saunders went on to say that despite economic constraints and the general feeling of malaise gripping the country, the National Lottery Fringe continues to excite and entertain and, more importantly, provoke conversations and ask questions of us as individuals and society.

Hazel Chimhandamba, head of group sponsorships at Standard Bank commended all the 2016 winners saying: “Standard Bank applauds the efforts of all the individuals involved in the Festival and the organisations that contributed to its success. We are very proud to be associated with awarding those who represent South Africa’s artistic landscape.”

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The full list of winners for 2016 are as follows:


  • Rust Co-Operative – Sillage (gold award)
  • Artscape – Ityala Lamawele (silver award)
  • Rust Co-Operative – The Graveyard (silver award)
  • Artscape – Die Glas Ennie Draad (silver award)
  • Explosiv Productions – Dangled (silver award)
  • Matt Newman – Cock (0vation award)
  • Sibikwa Arts Centre – Chapter 2 Section 9 (ovation award)
  • Theatre for Africa – Ebola (ovation award)
  • Artscape – Henrietta with Love (ovation award)
  • Hungry Minds Productions – Out of Bounds (0vation award)
  • Lebo Leisa – Paleho (ovation award)
  • UJ Arts & Culture (a Division of FADA) – For Coloured Girls Who Have Considered Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf (ovation award)
  • Umsindo Theatre Projects – 10 Days in a Shebeen (merit award)
  • Slindile Mthembu – Milked Voice (merit award)
  • Well Worn Theatre Co – Rat Race (merit award)
  • Outreach Foundation (Hillbrow Theatre) – Isaro (merit award)



  • Alan Parker – Sacre for One (silver award)
  • Kristin Hua NG-Yang – Bird/Fish (ovation award)
  • Liquid Fusion – Burn (ovation award)
  • Moving into Dance Mophatong –  ‘…feathers…’ (ovation award)
  • Sibonele Dance Project – Abangawona (The Unseen) (merit award)





Physical Theatre

  • Uyabona Ke – Falling Off the Horn (ovation award)




  • One Shushu Day Artistry – Msaki and the Golden Circle (ovation award)
  • Nombasa – Nombasa (0vation award)
  • Neo Motsatse – The Concert (ovation award)


Edge - you suck

You Suck and Other Inescapable Truths.


  • Bloom & Stone – Tease! (ovation award)
  • Klara van Wyk – You Suck: and Other Inescapable Truths (ovation award)
  • ExploSIV Productions – Thenx Presents Aza-Nya is Five-To (ovation award)
  • ExploSIV Productions – The Dark Ages (encore award)


Performance Art

  • Lexi Meier – Fabric of the Universe (ovation award)



  • Daneel van der Walt – Dani and the Lion (ovation award)




Student Theatre Awards

Awards for the best works by students at the National Arts Festival were decided by a panel, convened by Jacqueline Dommisse, that included Lee-Ann van Rooi and Bertina Johnson.


  • Winner of the most promising playwright of the year award: Namisa Mdlaloze and Pueng Stewart for University of Cape Town’s Figs. Nominees: Thembela Madliki of Rhodes University for Nyanga and the cast of Pharmakon by University of the Free State for a devised script.


  • Winner of the most promising director award: Thembela Madliki of Rhodes University for Nyanga. Nominees: Sarah Nansubuga Wits University for The Village and Dara Beth of University of Cape Town for Figs.


  • Winner of best production award: Rhodes University for Nyanga. Nominee – University of Cape Town for Figs.

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