Winding speeches, slinky gowns and too much bubbly

Posted: March 17, 2009 in Theatre & Event Reviews and Interviews

Group pic


By Astrid Stark

First published in The Sunday Independent 15 March ’09

South Africa’s very own Tony’s, the Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards, kicked off in grand style at Cape Town’s Artscape Theatre on Sunday 8 March. Fleur du Cap rolled out a green carpet and kept the decor and artworks naturalistic, based on their ‘inspired by nature’ campaign.

That is where the simplicity ended. The tables groaned under the weight of strawberries, grapes and chocolates, and generous amounts of Champagne were quaffed by theatre personalities and spectators. The handsome guys and girls of the La Rosa Spanish Dance Theatre opened the evening’s procedures and comedian Nik Rabinowitz MC’d the event as actress Thoko Ntshinga handed out the awards. Rabinowitz loves to show off his linguistic abilities, flipping from English to Afrikaans, and then to Xhosa. Ntshinga appeared on stage in a most shocking frock made out of layers of turquoise and pink fabric that snaked all around her and ended up in a warrior-like headgear. She called it her Ndebele doll design.

It is the Fleur du Cap Awards’ 44th year in the business and the list of nominees and winners were very impressive. The talented, Mwenya Kabwe walked away with the Best Actress in a Leading Role award for her portrayal as Alma in Yellowman, which is directed by Lara Bye. Jeremy Crutchley’s performance as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice won him the Best Actor in a Leading role award which his daughter received on his behalf as he is currently performing in Stratford-upon-Avon. Veteran of the South African music industry, Laurika Rauch, sang Koos Kombuis’ touching song, Lisa se Klavier and Dizu Plaatjies and his team of warriors stomped and ululated to the audience’s delight. Mike van Graan’s play,Die Generaal, received the award for the Best New South African Play, and he made a long but touching speech, which spoke of his deep passion for the theatre industry. The speeches ranged from short and unprepared, to long and winding, to just plain weird, as some of the winners took full advantage of their moment on stage to digress and perform a winding monologue. However, unlike the Oscars, there is no time-limit and the audience respectfully watched and waited.

Michael Inglis received the award for New Director for his production of Venom, and Christiaan Olwagen was 2008’s Most Promising Student. Former Grahamstown Festival Director, Lynette Marais, received the Lifetime Achievement award to a standing ovation. And then two sultry dancers from Sean Bovim’s Tango Nights took to the stage. Malcolm Klük and CGDT designed their beautiful dresses.

The Best Prop Design award went to Nicholas & Luke Ellenbogen for Raiders, Rasputin’s Rectangle, and the Best Costume Design award was scooped up by the eccentric John Caviggia for The Merchant of Venice. A very surprised Megan Choritz received the award for Innovation in Theatre, and the People’s Choice award for Theatre Sports, much to the audience’s delight. Best Actress and Actor in a Supporting Role awards went to Quanita Adams, for multiple roles in Cissie, and Guy de Lancey, for Shelley Levine, in Glengarry Glen Ross. The Best Lighting Design award went to Jaco Bouwer, Albert Snyman and Rudolph van Jaarsveld for Smag.

Bouwer also received the Best Director award for Smag. Fred Abrahamse received an award for Best Set Design for his musical play, Assassins, which opened the NewSpace theatre in 2008, and André Jacobs received an award for Best Performance in a Musical for his role as Samuel Byck in Assassins. Despite receiving numerous nominations and two awards Assassins had to be cut short due to lack of support.

 Competition for the Best Perfomance in a One Person Show was pretty stiff but Shaleen Surtee-Richards deservedly took the award for her portrayal as Shirley Valentyn in Shirley Valentyn. The long-standing cast of Not the Midnight Mass, which includes, Graham Weir, Christine Weir, Jason Ralph, Pierre van Heerden and Amanda Tiffin received the Best Performance in a Revue or Cabaret award.

The Panel is made up largely of local critics, journalists, writers and drama educators and include Marianne Thamm, Mariana Malan, Robert Greig, Marina Griebenow, Dr. Beverley Brommert, Len Ashton, Wilhelm Snyman, Brent Meersman, Denise Bester, Herman van der Westhuizen and Peter Tromp. Distell is represented by Irma Albers, arts and culture controller, and organizer of the Fleur du Cap awards. Just when the night was beginning to feel a little long, it was all over.

More bubbly and delicious canapés followed. At all the corners of the Artscape centre, chefs were cooking up lip smacking a-la-minute meals. A live band played jazzy Cape Town music as theatre lovers took to the dancefloor. Distell knows how to throw a party in style whilst showing off their altruistic side. All the proceeds of the evening will go towards developing theatre in the Western Cape. Next year’s Fleur du Cap Awards will be held at the Baxter Theatre.

Astrid Stark


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