A story of triumph over tragedy

In what reads like a story fit for the stage, this week the Stellenbosch University drama student Cantona James took a major step in his acting career which was sparked by overcoming a family tragedy. Cantona was identified as this year’s Most Promising Student at the 2020 Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards, the biggest accolade to date for this young star in the making.
During his school years at Randfontein High School, Cantona wrote a piece on the events of what happened and performed it to fellow pupils and other audiences. A teacher noticed his talent and asked him to join the drama class. After receiving many acting awards in school plays Cantona has since joined Stellenbosch University as a drama student. 

Talent springs eternal

In the view of panel judging chair Africa Melane. “The tough economic times of recent years did not rob theatre and opera lovers of an 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.”

Best Production

Veteran Eric Abraham and the Fugard Theatre was awarded Best Production for Kinky Boots. It 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. 

Lifetime Achievement Award 

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”.
“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.” – Judging chair Africa Melane

Innovation Award 

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.
Fred Abrahamse was awarded Best Lighting for his work on Equus.

The mother of invention

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 non-voting chair.
Jenny Stead and Fiona Ramsay in The Glass-Menagerie. They took home Best performance by supporting actress in a play and Best performance by lead actress in a play respectively.

Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards: winners

Winners each receive R15 000 and a silver medallion. Of the total of 59 productions in the running for top honours in the 55th year of the awards, the winners were:
  • Best new South African script: Morapeleng Molekoa | Scott
  • Best new director: Morapeleng Molekoa | Scott
  • Best theatre production for children and young people: Lumka
  • Best performance by an ensemble: Abigail Mei, Carlo Daniels, Luxolo Mboso, Siyavuya Gqumehlo, Sivenathi Macibela, Sizwe Lubengu, Sityhilelo Makupula, Yvonne Msebenzi | G7: Okwe Bokhwe (Like/Of a Goat) | Various roles
  • Best performance in a revue, cabaret or one-person show: Tafara Nyatsanza | Scott | Various roles
  • Best performance by a supporting actor in a musical or music theatre show: Tshepo Ncokoane | Kinky Boots | Angel
  • Best performance by a supporting actress in a musical or music theatre show: Namisa Mdlalose | Kinky Boots | Lauren
  • Best performance by a lead actor in a musical or music theatre show: Earl Gregory | Kinky Boots | Lola
  • Best performance by a lead actress in a musical or music theatre show: Zolani Mahola | The One Who Sings | Herself
  • Best puppetry design: Jenine Collocott | The Old Man and the Sea | Masks
  • Best lighting design: Fred Abrahamse | Equus
  • Best set design: Paul Wills | Kinky Boots
  • Best costume design: Birrie le Roux | Kinky Boots
  • Best sound design, original music, soundscape or live performance: Babalwa Makwetu | G7: Okwe Bokhwe (Like/Of a Goat)
  • Best performance in an opera – male: Bongani Kubheka | La Serva Padrona | Uberto
  • Best performance in an opera – female: Siphokazi Molteno | I Capuleti e I Montecchio | Romeo
  • Best performance by a supporting actor in a play: David Viviers | Cellist with Rabies | Rabies Virus
  • Best performance by supporting actress in a play: Jenny Stead | The Glass Menagerie | Laura Wingfield
  • Best performance by lead actress in a play: Fiona Ramsay | The Glass Menagerie | Amanda Wingfield
  • Best performance by lead actor in a play: Alan Committie | Richard III
  • Best director: Mandla Mbothwe | G7: Okwe Bokhwe (Like/Of a Goat)
  • Best production: Eric Abraham and The Fugard Theatre | Kinky Boots
  • Award for innovation in theatre: Junkets Publisher | Robin Malan and Andi Mgibantaka
  • Lifetime Achievement award: Fatima Dike
  • Award for most promising student: Cantona James | Stellenbosch University

World-class standards

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!”