This year, the 47th annual Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards will differ from previous ceremonies in that it will be presented as a production, incorporating interesting theatrical elements as devised by director Alfred Hinkel. He will create the production with Heather Mac, three dancers from Garage, his newly established dance ensemble and the two Masters of Ceremony, Alan Committee and Hannes van Wyk. Hinkel will steer away from the usual variety type awards show and will design the onstage event to both honour and entertain members of the theatre industry.

Heather Mac rose to prominence in the South African rock music firmament in the early 1980’s as the dynamic, theatrical lead singer of the band Ella Mental. After several years recording and performing in the USA, Ireland and Europe, she returned to SA in 1992, forming the Heather Mac Band and, later, The Brills. In the new millennium, in addition to being an executive in a music retail chain, Heather appeared in a number of Jazzart productions along with the likes of Sibongile Khumalo, Neo Muyanga and Tina Schouw. Heather’s theatre company, MORE Theatre, has produced various children’s musical productions based on African folk tales and her production, Snake Magic, represented South Africa at the 10th Annual African Theatre Festival for Children and Young People in Yaoundé, Cameroon in 2008. In 2011 she released her first music album in 20 years, “Within”, featuring the likes of Tim Parr, Edi Niederlander, Terrence Scarr, Chris Tokalon and Mark Harris. Heather currently works with Zakheni Arts Therapy Foundation, an organisation focused on making the arts therapies accessible in communities.

The Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards is a premier red carpet event, high on the Mother City’s cultural calendar. It attracts the crème de la crème of the country’s theatre fraternity from performers to those behind the scenes – all of those who contribute to making the Cape’s theatre scene so vibrant and successful.  On arrival at the Baxter Theatre, audience members and nominees are welcomed with a glass of Pongracz sparkling wine as they mingle to smooth background music by Donvino Prins and his band. Prins will continue to entertain guests after the ceremony at the famously fabulous after-party that typically continues until the early hours.

The awards became known as the Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards in 1978, being named after one of Distell’s leading wine brands and originally being called the Three Leaf Awards at its inception in 1965.  Every year prizes are given to outstanding individuals for theatre excellence, specifically focusing on professional theatre productions staged in the Cape Town Metropole and surrounds.  Winners are awarded a beautiful silver medallion and R15,000. The judges are made up of local critics, journalists, writers and drama educators, who base their decisions on having viewed close to 100 productions over twelve months, in several venues in and around the city.  The Judges for the 2011 productions were Africa Melane, Coreen Lloyd, Denise Bester, Dr. Beverley Brommert, Gillian Mitchell, Herman van der Westhuizen, Jill Makram, Len Ashton, Mariana Malan, Marina Nel, Peter Tromp, Wayne Muller and Zane Henry. The panel for 2012 is Africa Melane, Coreen Lloyd, Denise Bester, Dr. Beverley Brommert, Dr. Gabriel Botma, Gillian Mitchell, Herman van der Westhuizen, Jill Makram, Len Ashton, Mariana Malan, Marianne Thamm, Marina Nel, Peter Tromp, Rone Arendse and Wayne Muller.

The Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards is an initiative of the Distell Foundation. It forms part of Distell’s Corporate Social Investment Programme, which is dedicated to supporting the development of the creative arts industry in South Africa. The event itself is an evening of glitz and glamour that is equivalent to the Tony Awards in New York, and it attracts the cream of the country’s theatre talent and entertainers.

Members of the public can now vote for their favourite production of 2011 by logging onto www.capetheatre.co.za and clicking on the People’s Choice Awards icon at the top right-hand side of the home page.  The Cape Theatre website is currently under construction with exciting new developments on the way. Voting closes on Wednesday, 14 March and the winning production will be announced at the ceremony.

Awards are given in 20 different categories this year, with the exception of the Rosalie van der Gucht Prize for New Directors. The judges decided that it will stand over to next year; the focus of this award is on the development of new young talent, and the judges wanted to create an opportunity for more talent to be considered.

The Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards ceremony takes place on Sunday, 18th March at 6pm at the Baxter Theatre. Limited seats are available to the public via Computicket.  Tickets cost R150 per person and include canapés and award-winning Fleur du Cap wines. All funds raised through ticket sales will be donated to theatre development in South Africa.