PETER TROMP spoke to several Capetonian theatre makers about Sunday’s Fleur du Cap Awards at the Baxter Theatre. They were all asked the same question: Do you think the Fleur Du Cap theatre Awards is truly representative of the theatrical landscape in Cape Town?
(Magnet Theatre performer and founding member)
Well, the criteria currently exclude performances outside the mainstream structures and buildings and that needs to change. The net needs to be widened to include work that is performed in communities and smaller theatres where they don’t often have the resources to compete with the bigger theatres. I think we need to change the demographics from being white dominated to a more inclusive and integrated model. Hopefully we will move in a direction where nobody will be marginalised anymore.
(Director of ‘Where the Boys Are’ and ‘Silence of the Music’)
I can’t say that it is. The Fleur du Cap Awards have puzzled me for many years, but I’ve finally managed to figure it out. The authors of award winning plays have to be dead. Not even recently passed on, but very, very dead. Then you have to attract small, white audiences in order to have artistic merit. To be fair there is a sprinkling of living authors and playwrights but if your name is Tshabalala, change it.
I tried to look for the latest nominees online, but the last update I could find was from 2007. This is another hint to cracking their system. Don’t deal with the present, remain firmly stuck in the past where things were white and right.
I had five sold out seasons at the Baxter Theatre and I haven’t seen any of that talent recognised at the awards. I’m pretty sure the people who came to see ‘This Is My Life’ and ‘Brother Love’ and that make up a large portion of the theatre going audience in Cape Town is probably as baffled as I am.
(Nominated for Best Director for ‘Die Rebellie van Lafras Verwey’)
Every awards show, whether it is the Fiesta Awards or the Kanna Awards, covers only a part of the industry, and Fleur du Cap is no exception. Due to the regulations of the Fleur du Caps, where a piece has to have a run in Cape Town or its surround for a certain amount of performances to be considered, this is only the second time in my career that one of my pieces has been a contender for nomination. This is despite me having worked every year on big and small productions, experimental and classical.
The limits of what can be considered for nomination are understandable, but not ideal. There is no readily available theatre that produces new works, so when I produce a play for instance, I have to fork out the finances and take the risk. Another obstacle is that Afrikaans theatre does not have an accessible theatrical space. And then of course there is the matter of audience taste as well. All of this being said, it is a privilege to be nominated. I have a black and white portrait of the legendary actress Babs Laker for when she won a Three Leaves Award, which later became the Fleur du Caps, so to me especially there is something special about the awards.
(Founding member Zabalaza Theatre Festival)
Coming from the point of view of an actor with a community theatre background and who works with community theatre makers, there is still a big gap to be filled. I would say community theatre is underappreciated for sure. Khayalethu Anthony has been nominated with Sir Antony Sher in the Best Actor category, but what is the reasoning behind such a judgment? He is obviously a young guy and I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve to be nominated with someone of that stature, but the gap between the community works he did before and this sudden attention seems too large to me.
Khayalethu got to the mainstream stage through Zabalaza and is now being noticed, but he wasn’t anonymous before. It just appears as if he wasn’t considered when he was performing there. For me that is a gap that needs to be closed. There is a lot of work happening in the communities that I feel very close to and proud of and my colleagues and I are trying to create a bridge between community theatre and the mainstream, but who is judging those kinds of things?