Bravo: 57th FDC Theatre Awards- celebration, tribute and remembrance – Yesterday, Today and TomorrowSunday March 27, 2022

On Sunday March 27, 2022, a joyous Fleur du Cap Theatre Award Ceremony was hosted by the FDC sponsors, Distell, at Nederburg Wine Estate in Paarl. It was the 57th FDC Theatre Awards. The 2020 and 2021 ceremonies were streamed online- and it was great to be back and that return was in the sublime setting at Nederburg. Click here, to see the list of winners of the 57th awards and nominees

Within the unbridled joy of being there, we spoke of the people who had passed during this time and we missed them. People died from natural causes, Covid, illness. There were those who suicided and met with tragic deaths. During the past two years, we have for the most part, not been able to gather in-person at memorials. The theatre sector is like a family and we could not commune to pay our respects. We were thrilled to dress up but with the glitz and glam, there was a recognition that we needed to honour and remember those who are no longer with us. The present, past and future –was beautifully and tenderly conveyed throughout the afternoon and evening.

In 2020 and 2021- the online FDC ceremonies were placeholders – until we could gather together. Everyone was amped to be together, dressed up and excited to be at the 57th ceremony. The wine was flowing. Canapes were served. However, these FDC awards went beyond merely being a celebration and return to live performance. It was much more than an event. Nederburg Wine Estate became the theatre- the body for a rebirth to emanate. Director Mandla Mbothwe put the programme together – and it was breathtaking- with performances as we arrived – by Nceba Gongxeka (drummer) and others.

Imagine the Cape Winelands on a steaming hot evening. Nederburg’s Cape Dutch manor house (completed in 1800) is a national monument. The building is emblematic of the complex history of this country. Mbothwe somehow melded everything together. Through the featured artists – including Jazzart Theatre Company- there was engagement with this heritage space – within a restorative ethos. Mbothwe is a senior lecturer and researcher at UCT’s CTDPS, a director at Magnet Theatre and is artistic director of the theatre company, Mud & Fire Parables and is involved in numerous research programmes and projects. He is a storyteller and actively engages with the past and how it has shaped and shapes us now as nation. His work is not always easy. It is about rupture, cracks, dissonance but it is also about a passion to celebrate, rejoice and exult in what we have and to treasure heritage and humanity. He engages and prods audiences to think, reflect and question –to always question- and listen – and I think above all to be respectful and respect others.  Within his practice of excavating uncomfortable stories, I think that he is at heart, a humanist story teller. He recently directed Krele leChiza…the sermon, at Magnet Theatre in Cape Town -investigating “themes of rituals and restoration”. For me, he brought rituals and restoration to Nederburg, to the 57th Fleur Du Cap Awards. One could walk up and engage with the pop-up performances – or glance and walk on by and smooze and enjoy the wine and food. The performances accompanying the announcements of the awards were very much about ritual and restoration. First up was Distell In Memoriam: 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022. It was wrenching to see how many arts people have passed. Headshots and names were beamed on screens and the Bosman Adama Farm Choir sang for us as we watched the memorial roll call.

A lovely touch was seeing three Lifetime Achievement Award winners on stage: Sandra Prinsloo (2022), Janice Honeyman (2021) and Fatima Dike (2020). They spoke beautifully and kept it brief. I don’t know how but they did it, but speeches by FDC members, dignitaries and winners were kept short and to the point. Thank you, Africa Melane (head of the judging panel and MC for the evening) for making this award ceremony a pleasure to attend. Award ceremonies can be long and boring. This ceremony zipped along. Afterwards, we danced and grooved in the tent, under the stars. It was a poignant and happy celebration of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

Welcome: Arrival – Nederburg’s beautiful Cape Dutch manor house. ©TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen, March 27, 2022.

Director: Mandla Mbothwe – director of the 57th Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards. ©TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen, March 27, 2022.
Heat and warmth: After the awards, the candles were burning and the wine was flowing. ©TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen, March 27, 2022.

Young and talented. Qondiswa James received the award for best new SA script, for A Howl in Makhanda. Jannous Aukema received the FDC for Best Sound design and original composition for A Howl in Makhanda.  ©TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen, March 27, 2022.
Body of theatre: Jazzart Theatre Company performing at the 57th Fleur du Cap Theatre Award Ceremony at Nederburg Wine Estate in Paarl. Note, how the company performed off stage and in the space, where the audience was seated.©TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen, March 27, 2022.
Celebratory tables: The 57th Fleur du Cap Theatre Award Ceremony at Nederburg Wine Estate in Paarl.
©TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen, March 27, 2022.
In the tent: Janice Honeyman (FDC Lifetime Achievement Award 2021) and theatre designer, Birrie le Roux.
©TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen, March 27, 2022.