Popular radio personality Africa Melane has been appointed chair of the panel of judges of South Africa’s leading performing arts competition, the Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards. He succeeds Melanie Burke.
Established in 1965, the annual competition focuses on professional theatre productions staged in Cape Town and environs. It is sponsored by Distell Group and has served as launching pad for many of the country’s most prominent names in theatre, while honouring many of its most established talents.
A born and bred Capetonian, Melane has a long and close association with the Fleur du Cap Awards. He has been a judge since 2011 and has also acted as MC at the gala annual awards ceremony. As the host of CapeTalk’s Weekend Breakfast Show, he routinely interviews high-profile entertainment figures, prominent business and thought leaders, politicians, community activists and religious leaders from both South Africa and abroad. He also serves as the deputy chair of the Cape Town Opera board.
“I can think of no better person for the role of chair,” said Bridgitte Backman, who is Distell’s Director for Corporate and Regulatory Affairs. “His deep appreciation and support for the performing arts, his immersion in the psyche and soul of Cape Town through his radio role, and his insight and erudition make him the ideal person.”
The chair of the panel does not cast a vote but has the critical function of bringing focus, context and consensus to the panel, whose members have extensive experience as theatre critics, journalists or former theatrical performers, designers or directors.
“As South Africans we are challenged by many societal and economic pressures and continually we have to address these issues,” said Backman. “Cape Town, as the cultural heartland of the country somehow manages to translate these tensions into exciting, energetic, provocative and enriching theatre. Africa Melane has the pulse of the city’s people and he understands what makes for world-class theatre that resonates with locals.”
Melane, who studied to be an accountant before switching to the world of entertainment said: “Being appointed chair is an immense honour and privilege but it also comes with great responsibility in recognising and rewarding talent in a tightly contested domain where there are often many deserving contenders for the same title. Fortunately, the panellists are chosen for their breadth of exposure, discernment and unwavering dedication. What a joy to continue working with them and to help play a part in building on the outstanding work of my predecessors in celebrating and advancing excellence in local theatre.”