By Laurie Scarborough
The Fleur du Caps is the South African Theatre Awards Ceremony, which takes place annually in March in Cape Town. This year, the half-centennial celebration was held at the Artscape Theatre on March 15th. A red carpet led the way to the theatre entrance where you could rub shoulders (and pass fashion judgement upon) the country’s theatre stars and theatre enthusiasts.
Performance art (including a pair of Victorian theatre goers wafting among guests, sipping tea and looking disdainfully down their noses at the dresses they most certainly did not approve of) and a potjiekos history display decorated and entertained guests before the ceremony started.
Guests could munch on fancy canapés, sip sparkling pink champagne (or orange juice, if you’re too young to see Cabaret) and mingle in the foyer before being seated in the Opera House for the awards to begin.
The evenings host as usual was Alan Committee, who warmed the audience with a few insider theatre jokes, made all the more special by an entrance accompanied by Sybil Sands, who gave out one of her signature silver stars.
The first of the awards was for the Most Promising Student, which was a bit awkward for Stellies, as all five nominees are UCT graduates, making it truly a UCT Drama Department win. Sive Gubangxa received a very excited applause from her class mates as she accepted her award.
Moving swiftly on to the professional awards, came a rather touching speech from Best Performer in a One-Person Show winner, Khayalethu Anthony, who held the award and said, “The boy from Khayalitsha won today.”
Louis Viljoen won the award in both the categories for which he was nominated – and as a first-time nominee too! His second acceptance speech, for Best New Director, started with a laugh: “I just won…don’t know if you saw me.”
Unsurprisingly, Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones won for Best Puppetry Design for their monumental puppets that they designed and directed in the internationally acclaimed play, War Horse. They also won the Innovation in Theatre award for their work with the Handspring Puppet Company.
The absence of a Stellenbosch student nomination was nothing compared to the biggest “woopsie” of the evening, which left a room full of admittedly dramatic people momentarily speechless. The wrong envelope was presumably given to the announcer of the Best Actor in a Musical award. She mistakenly called out the winner of the Best Actress in a Musical, which left everyone very confused.
After a bit of nervous bum-shuffling, the correct envelope was read and Sne Dladla, recently seen in Orpheus in Africa, came up to receive his award. The actor, who is an ex-Checkers cashier, handled the situation gracefully and with a smile that I’m sure will soon be recognisable to even non-theatre goers across South Africa.
The rest of the awards went on without further problems, and concluded with the Best Director award, which went to Jaco Bouwer for Balbesit. We at SBAM were of course very proud of our Buhle Ngaba for her first Fleur du Cap nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Play for her role of Ayanda in Missing.
The highlight of the event was the food! Table upon table of canapés, sushi, meat, pasta, stew, and an unlimited supply of wine and champagne definitely made the night special. And if that wasn’t enough to send you waddling out the door with a slightly looser corset, the ice-cream would do it. A counter laden with every sweet you could have with soft serve invited your spoon back several times. And that wasn’t even including the Sinnful gelatto, which was downstairs on the way out. Sinful indeed.
This is a red carpet event worth attending, if only for the food. Okay, I’ll stop drooling now…promise.
For a complete list of nominees and winners, click here.