The winners of this year’s Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards reflected a dynamic, healthy mix of emergent and established local talent, in the view of panel judging chair Africa Melane. “The tough economic times of recent years did not rob theatre and opera lovers of exceptional quality of productions mounted. The panel and I were once again blown away by what was on offer, especially the new South African works. It demonstrates that talent will flourish regardless of the circumstances.

“From the avant-garde to more mainstream entertainment, from exciting new names to seasoned stars and other specialists of the stage, this year’s winners highlight the thrilling and world-class standard of what is on offer to local audiences. We are truly fortunate.”

Kinky Boots, staged at the Fugard Theatre, was the indisputable favourite of the judges, taking a total of six awards. Scott won three, with writer and director Morapeleng Molekoa winning two of these, while G7: Okwe Bokhwe (Like/Of a Goat) also won three, and The Glass Menagerie, two awards.

This year’s Lifetime Achievement award honoured veteran playwright, director, actor and educator Fatima (Fatts) Dike. Summing up the panel’s comments, Melane said: “She has been instrumental in opening the doors of theatre to all. She educated herself in exile during the struggle, she defied and challenged the laws of segregation and she exposed the abomination of apartheid. We thank her for never abandoning her roots in Langa. Long may she continue to paint with words”.

The Innovation Award went to Junkets Publisher’s Robin Malan and Andi Mgibantaka for their contribution to theatre arts, literature and education. Across its range of imprints, said Melane, the publishing house had continued to promote new writers and ideas, also always providing a platform for the expression of diversity and sexual minorities.

He also mentioned that the organisers had decided to replace the Fleur du Cap medallion awarded to Taliep Petersen in 1999. Won for Kat and the Kings as the best contribution to a musical or revue, it had been stolen from the late composer’s family home in December.

Of the total of 59 productions in the running for top honours in this, the 55th year of the awards, the winners are HERE…

Speaking on behalf of sponsor Distell, the company that owns the Fleur du Cap brand, Bridgitte Backman, the organisation’s director of corporate and regulatory affairs said: “We are delighted and immensely proud to be associated with stage talent of such calibre. The winners have made such a significant contribution to local culture, shaping how we see ourselves and our place in society.

“Of course, it’s disappointing not to be able to celebrate these gifted people at what would have been our traditional red-carpet gala event, but that is how things are in the time of Covid-19, right across the world. Next year, when we hope the world is back on its axis, our plan is to have an even bigger event so we can simultaneously honour this year’s and next year’s winners. Watch this space!”

Backman also made the point that in times of tragedy, the creative community often produced some of its most outstanding work. “While in no way diminishing the severity of the suffering unleashed by the current pandemic, it could well be the impetus for courageous and inspiring new stage work as has so often been the case, where events of major historical significance have prompted an outpouring of creative excellence.”

The judging panel, all respected experts in their fields, from critics to journalists, writers and drama educators, included Dr Beverley Brommert, Maurice Carpede, Marina Griebenow, Thabo Makgolo, Mariana Malan, Roxy Marosa, Dr Wayne Muller, Tracey Saunders, Lwando Scott and Hadley Titus, with Africa Melane as the non-voting chair.

Winners each receive R15 000 and a silver medallion.

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