52nd FLEUR DU CAP AWARDS. Directed by Matthew Wild. Assistant director Jason Jacobs. Presented by Cathy Specific and Africa Melane
The annual celebration of professional theatre in the Western Cape was hosted at Artscape on Sunday evening and once again one was reminded of the wealth of talent and the numerous productions we are privileged to experience in Cape Town each year. Distell, who have supported the awards for fifty two years, celebrated the occasion with their particular style of flair.
The big winner for the night was the emotionally charged The Inconvenience of Wings written by Lara Foot. The play was nominated in several categories and went home with awards for Best Actor for Andrew Buckland, Best Actress for Jennifer Steyn and for Best Director, Lara Foot. Both Steyn and Foot had been nominated twice in the relevant categories. Foot for the return of her iconic production Karoo Moose and Steyn for her powerful role in A Doll’s House. Christiaan Olwagen’s adaption of the classic Ibsen text was a highlight of the year with magnificent performances and memorable set and sound design. Rob van Vuuren walked away with the award for Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Play for his crazed portrayal of Nils Krogtsad. Those used to watching van Vuuren in his more comic roles may have been surprised at the ease with which he slipped in to the role of the bemused, befuddled and generally confused accountant. Alongside him was Anthea Thompson as the severe Kristine Linde. Thompson always brings a depth to her roles and this one was no different winning her the award for best Supporting Actress in a Play.
In the musical categories Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a small musical with a large ragged heart earned Paul du Toit and Genna Galloway awards for their lead roles as Hedwig and Yitzhak respectively. Their production opened the newest venue in Cape Town, Gate 69 and despite the small stage their performances packed an enormous punch.
A regular on the musical nominee list, Jonathan Roxmouth was awarded for his performance in Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as Pharaoh. His spectacular outfit alongside the other flamboyant costumes in the musical earned Niall Griffin the award in the costume design category. David Kramer’s outstanding production Kanala, which has enjoyed that rare experience of more than 200 performances at the Fugard Theatre was awarded for his original score. The popular musical had an extended run this year and hundreds of local residents and visitors to Cape Town have revelled in this musical trip down the lanes of District Six. Faheem Bardien lit up the extraordinary stage design of the classic isiXhosa production Ityala Lamawele and was awarded for his design in the lighting category for doing so.
It’s not that usual for a nominee to be accorded the recognition of a Lifetime Achievement Award in the same year but Pieter-Dirk Uys is accustomed to the unusual and accepted the honour unusually via a pre-recorded message as he was performing at the time of the awards ceremony.
Nominated in the category of best performance in a revue, cabaret or one-person show for his one man show The Echo of a Noise in which he presented one of his finest, and certainly his most personal work to date. Acknowledging his role both on and off the stage Uys was applauded for his achievements that have changed the lives of many South Africans.
Another group of unafraid and fearless individuals was the cast of The Fall. During the height of the educational crisis in 2016 this group of young actors, many of them still students or recent graduates created a semi-autobiographical piece of theatre which brought the reality of the student protests home. The production resulted in many changed hearts and minds and was a testament to the power of theatre and its ability to both deal with and interrogate social justice issues. They received a special Encore award for their unique contribution to theatre in 2016.
The award for the Best New South African script went to Mongiwekhaya for I See You, another script dealing with the harsh and uncomfortable truths facing a post apartheid country grappling with so much unresolved pain. One of the theatrical places that faces the apartheid reality of structural inequality head on is the Makukhanye Art Room and Mandisi Sindo of Theatre 4 Therapeutic Change accepted the award for Innovation in Theatre as one of the team responsible for the only shack theatre in South Africa. One hopes that this recognition will go some way towards achieving the goal of establishing a fully functional theatre in Khayelitsha.
While everyone has their personal favourite during the year and some may have been disappointed that their choice of nominee was not selected, the unambiguous winner of the night was theatre and serendipitously the day before the World Day of Theatre for Children and Young people. What better time to celebrate just how fabulous, engaging, educational and life affirming theatre can be.
- BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEAD ACTOR IN A PLAY
Andrew Buckland for The Inconvenience of Wings as Paul
- BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEAD ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Jennifer Steyn for The Inconvenience of Wings as Sara
- BEST PERFORMANCE BY A SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A PLAY
Rob van Vuuren for A Doll’s House as Nils Krogstad
- BEST PERFORMANCE BY A SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Anthea Thompson for A Doll’s House as Mrs Kristine Linde
- BEST PERFORMANCE IN A REVUE, CABARET OR ONE-PERSON SHOW
Marlo Minnaar for Santa Gamka as Lucky Marais
- BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEAD ACTOR IN A MUSICAL OR MUSIC THEATRE SHOW
Paul du Toit for Hedwig and the Angry Inch as Hedwig
- BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEAD ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL OR MUSIC THEATRE SHOW
Genna Galloway for Hedwig and the Angry Inch as Yitzhak
- BEST PERFORMANCE BY A SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL OR MUSIC THEATRE SHOW
Jonathan Roxmouth for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as Pharaoh
- BEST PERFORMANCE BY A SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL OR MUSIC THEATRE SHOW
Taryn Sudding for Annie as Grace
- AWARD FOR MOST PROMISING STUDENT
NO AWARD MADE IN THIS CATEGORY
- BEST DIRECTOR
Lara Foot for The Inconvenience of Wings
- BEST LIGHTING DESIGN
Faheem Bardien for Ityala Lamawele
- BEST SET DESIGN
Saul Radomsky for Clybourne Park
- BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Niall Griffin for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
- BEST SOUNDSCAPE, ORIGINAL MUSIC COMPOSITION OR ORIGINAL SCORE
David Kramer for District Six Kanala – Original Music Composition and Original Score
- BEST PUPPETRY DESIGN
NO AWARD MADE IN THIS CATEGORY
- BEST NEW SOUTH AFRICAN SCRIPT
Mongiwekhaya for I See You
- BEST NEW DIRECTOR
- AWARD FOR INNOVATION IN THEATRE
Makukhanye Art Room
- LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT
SPECIAL ENCORE AWARD
Ameera Conrad, Thando Mangcu, Oarabile Ditsele, Tankiso Mamabolo, Sizwesandile Mnisi, Sihle Mnqwazana & Cleo Raatus for The Fall.
Tracey Saunders is a member of the Fleur Du Cap panel of judges.