Archive for the ‘Listen With Your Eyes: a festival of the visual’ Category

FTH:K is cursed when it comes to weather. There’s a saying in the company: How do you know it’s FTH:K’s move-in day? It’s raining. It will be the day we have to pull our wooden set across the country and risk exposure to rain and warping, and then we the people packing the set into the trailer, will get wet. Time and time again. Heading to Washington D.C., we thought we had left our weather woes at the National Arts Festival, when could you believe it, we arrived in Washington where, far from wet misery, is experiencing it’s hottest weather in 10 years.

Outside of our climate adapting, it has been a great trip so far, rubbing shoulders with our Yankee counterparts. We’ve toured Gallaudet University, a University for the Deaf in D.C, and bonded with the good people of Quest Visual Theatre.

FTH:K was invited to perform at the opening ceremony of the World Friendship Volleyball Games which is currently being hosted by Gallaudet University. Random, I know.

What made it particularly cool was that, this audience of sporty people took to the snippet of Shortcuts so well. Even though there was a scary moment and where Christo hit the ground with his head instead of his feet (He’s alright now!)

Naturally, going to America, there was trepidation about what kind of food we might encounter (flashes of SuperSize Me) but even our resident Vegan, Jayne, has, despite her initial hesitations, enjoyed many great salads and been introduced to other Vegans. Tink says she has found the greatest beans known to mankind at the Red Hot & Blue.

Back in South Africa there’s the incredible BASA awards happening at the end of August, where three of our supporters are up for awards, in recognition of their support of FTH:K. The Citizen, up in Jozi, was instrumental in aiding our Listen With Your Eyes tour at the Market Theatre last year, as was Distell who has been a fabulous supporter since the beginning. Also, in that list was Pretoria Portland Cement (commonly known as PPC: useful trivia which might be the deciding point in your next General Knowledge Quiz), who sponsored our National Tour of Tales From the Trash last year.

How cool is it to have your sponsors get an award for doing the good work they do!?

We’ve had so many things change round this month, but one who has not even received a mention, was our blessed dinosaur; our photocopy machine, Beast. It was a quick and quiet funeral, and in a brief sermon held by Ma Ang and Ana, our photocopier was laid to rest. Beast was responsible for many an FTH:K programme, funding application and report but after several paper jams, botched copies, and failures to turn on, it was time to go. Beast has since been replaced by Beauty, but his hard work and loyalty, will not be forgotten.

In trying to take over the world, taking knocks is part of the game. So here’s to the uncomfortable weather and the dying office equipment, the FTH:K dream goes on!

More from D.C. to follow…

Can anyone say LEGACY?!  We can!

2010 Naledi Awards To be honest, our trip to Jozi for the Naledi Theatre Awards was insane.  It was as if the entire history of FTH:K has been condensed into one evening…the espresso of FTH:K elements: losses, wins, disappointments, surprises, celebrations, conversations, parties, people, troubled transport, touch-ups, and tequila!  We’re not at liberty to divulge too much on this blog – obviously – but feel free to offer to take us for drinks and we’ll tell all!!

If you have been following the lead up to the Naledi’s, you’ll know that we were up for a number of awards, 5 to be exact.  In fact, in their Press Release celebrating the nominees, the National Arts Festival noted that, “The largest bouquet of nominations has been scooped by the Cape Town-based theatre company FTH:K who have both a strong reputation and a following at the Festival. The company has been nominated for a total of 7 awards between the Fleur de Cap and the Naledi Awards.”

Yep. That’s us.  However, we didn’t scoop ANY of the 5 awards for which we were nominated at the Naledi’s.  Not one.  Which resulted in a serious depletion of the bar’s tequila and whiskey stocks.  Until, out of the blue, a new award was announced – The Herbert Dhlomo Naledi Award for Emerging Theatre Companies.  Taking the podium with Ismail Mohamed of the National Arts Festival, Dawn Lindberg said:

“This is the first year that we are introducing the Award for Best Emerging Theatre Company.  This Award was suggested by fellow Board member, Ismail Mahomed, Director of the National Arts Festival, who are generously sponsoring this Award, and named by our Chairman, Dali Tambo, after the legendary Artistic Activist and Pioneer of Black Theatre, Herbert Dhlomo.

We have decided to name the Best Emerging Theatre Company award in Dhlomo’s name and the winning company should push boundaries and take theatre into new realms of artistic expression.  For this first Dhlomo Award, we are giving the Naledi trophy and certificate as well as a cheque for R5000.

We are proud to present the first Herbert Dhlomo Naledi Award to Emerging Theatre Company, FTH:K.”

At first we were a little confused, and that wasn’t only because of the tequila. Were we still only “emerging”?? Hells bells, what does it take, then, to “emerge”?!?!  But Ismail answered this quite succinctly (as only he can) by saying on Facebook:

Best Emerging Theatre Company 2010 “In the presentation of the award the word “emerging” was not to denote newcomer on the block but it was intended to acknowledge a company whose work is giving rise to newly emerging forms of artistic expression, entrepreneurial best practices and a commitment to grow social consciousness through quality driven entertaining theatre productions. The first ever award in this category receives its own sense of value by it being given to a company that celebrates a strong track record of representing the values envisioned by this award.”

Most of this is captured in the Artslink release about our win, but what you might not have seen (unless you got our blow-by-blow account on Facebook) are the pics, including our win pics! (Thanks, Liez!) Herewith, for your entertainment – all taken on a BB of some sort so forgive the quality!

So, we got two awesome bits of news today.  The first was that the Fleur du Cap nominations are out.  The second was that the Naledi nominations are out.  Ok, neither of those constitutes good news in and of themselves, but they do if FTH:K has been nominated 7 times between the two!!

That’s right, folks! QUACK! and Womb Tide are tearing up the award charts with the following nominations:

Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards

  • BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS – Liezl de Kock in Womb Tide
  • BEST DESIGN – Craig Leo & Emilie Stark for Prop Design in Womb Tide

Naledi Theatre Awards

  • BEST THEATRE SET DESIGN – Craig Leo & Emily Stark for Womb Tide
  • BEST COSTUME DESIGN – Leila Anderson for QUACK!
  • BEST THEATRE LIGHTING DESIGN – Rob Murray for Womb Tide

And all this before 11:30 am! Roll on Monday!!

MS, CB, & ToS at Laager Board Our Festival is officially open! And Opening Night rocked!  In typical FTH:K style, it was an experiment; a chance to try something different; a new format for an Opening Night shebang.  See, when we were planning the Fest, we couldn’t work out how to do our Opening/Media Night.  Would we do two evenings, one for QUACK! and the other for Womb Tide?  Would we have to cover drinks and food for both?  On the media front, could we really expect them to come to both shows?  And if they did, would they have enough space in their papers to do two reviews?  Surely not.  Surely they would have chosen a single evening to attend and a single performance to review.  Which would have defeated the point of the Festival insomuch as we wanted to show two very different and distinctive pieces of FTH:K’s rep.  I mean, what if they chose the show that didn’t speak to them and as a result reviewed the whole Festival in that one light?  Precisely.  So we decided to do a double-bill Opening Night.  QUACK! at 6, then dinner, then Womb Tide at 8:15.  And, as it turns out, it was the right thing to do.  We were initially concerned that people would leave after dinner having seen only QUACK! – which as we already know, is not everyone’s cup of tea; especially if they happen to be older than 37 ;-) – but the theatre seemed even fuller for the performance of Womb Tide, which was awesome to see.  People came out at the end of the evening comparing the pieces, which they had enjoyed more, why, how they had interpreted the pieces, which elements had spoken most to them etc, but moreover, getting a window into the scope of FTH:K’s creative style.

We are anything but dull, seems to be the general consensus.

So far, reviews for both pieces have been positive, with most reviewers getting the point of this all: visual communication.  And this extends from the integration of the Deaf and hearing communities (both of whom had strong representation at Opening Night) to the style of the pieces.  And with the two works being so different, we never expected everyone to love both.  But we did want to make them think.  And talk.  And discuss.  And debate.  After all, part of FTH:K’s purpose is to push its audiences, sometimes to places of discomfort, but always with the intention of getting them to engage with the experience.  Even if it’s only to unpack that which they didn’t understand or enjoy. Interestingly, one reviewer (who shall remain nameless lest Christine kill this blog-poster on returning to Cape Town!!) refused to review QUACK! He came to Opening Night and only stayed for half the evening as he had “seen Womb Tide in Grahamstown” and said that he disliked QUACK! so much, he couldn’t bring himself to “waste time reflecting on the piece” by writing a review.  This in an email to The Market Theatre.  Interesting, huh?  The Producer from The Market called before sending the email on to us, worried that we might be very disturbed by the reviewers negativity.  The thing is, when you are a theatre company that is committed to breaking new ground, trying new things, pushing that envelope as far as possible, you get used to some people responding as if with an allergic reaction to your work!  Does it get us down?  Not so much.  Sure, it’s kak to have a negative responses to stuff that you put so much love and time into, but you can’t win ‘em all.  Neither would we want to.  Or we would risk becoming the MacDonalds of visual theatre (to steal a phrase) which would suck even more.

As economist John Kenneth Galbraith said: In all life one should comfort the afflicted, but verily, also, one should afflict the comfortable, and especially when they are comfortably, contentedly, even happily wrong.

Sma applauds Sure, it can be lonely at the front, but we keep having to remind ourselves to look back at the people following us, and notice that our audience base continues to grow by the season, and we have far more positive reviews under our belt than negative ones.  (And we include in these, those reviewers who might not have enjoyed a piece but still have something to say about it.  Engaging with the experience in some way, you know?)  Our FTH:K family members constitute those people who are prepared to go on a journey with us, even if it’s to places dark and unknown.

And for that we love them stukkend!!

So.  We had A Plan.  For the record, we had A Plan, ok??  And it was all written out on a smart Excel doc, with dates and times and activities and relevant people and everything.  But there’s a saying about “best laid plans” and all that, and lo, how true it has rung for us.  Firstly, the PX container, with all our QUACK! and Womb Tide stuff in it didn’t arrive.  However, after much phoning and wailing and gnashing of teeth, it finally got delivered an entire week after it was sent, and a day later than it was needed.  Luckily, The clever Plan (and the awesome Market Theatre technical crew) saw us being ahead of schedule by a day or two.  So, when we finally began, we were a day late for being early but on schedule, in fact.  If that makes sense.

Then, there was a delay in our funding, which meant we couldn’t get paid on payday.  Again, we had A Plan in place, but, you know, funders go on holiday; reports get lost; people with signing-off power go to workshops for days…and the 25th comes and goes…and even the Womb Tide puppet starts worrying.

But all these things we can deal with.  The set arrived and the funding came in today (so drinks on us tomorrow ;-)).  But what are we to do about this strike??  One has to marvel at how NOT PART OF THE PLAN it was for us to be in South Africa’s political hotspot, running a theatre festival that targets schools as 50% of its programme, just when a major strike including teachers, army and police force is about to break out!!!  For the love of theatre, Zuma, if for no other reason, find a decent compromise in the next 2 days!!!

Luckily the QUACK! team had a sense of humour about it all in today’s Tech Rehearsal:

QUACK team strikes

Eish.  Sometimes this job we do is not easy.  In fact, often it’s not easy, but it’s rewarding when it pays off.  And on that we hang our hopes for the coming week.  (Check the pics so far)

Good vibes, everyone, good vibes!

LWYE Poster DRAFT 2 - ONCRM 250 Wow. So you know when you have been planning, discussing, thinking about, working on, and preparing for something for what seems like an age and then all of a sudden there it is, bam! Right in front of you, and you wonder how the hell it got there??  Welcome to our world right now! Right now we are preparing to open our first ever season at The Market Theatre with not one but two FTH:K works and a workshop and exhibition programme to boot. And we have to keep fighting off the feeling that we are playing dress-up in mom’s clothes, and take on the idea that might be growing into our own…

This project at The Market started more than a year ago, when, over Chinese food and red wine, we asked what The Market Theatre was doing to encourage the (pretty sizable) Deaf community in Jozi to come to more theatre. And from that, a conversation began that grew in size and voice, until it was bigger than we ever though it would be when we first birthed it. The project got a name. Listen With Your Eyes: a festival of the visual. It got a home. The Market Theatre. And it got some awesome partners, like Arts Alive and Distell and CitiVibe. And it got two fantastic productions: QUACK! and Womb Tide. And then a workshop programme that runs alongside it. And then interactive exhibitions at Sci-Bono and a visual art exhibition by Deaf artist Tommy Motswai…and then Darren Rajbal even agreed to come and open the whole Festival!! It’s one thing to know that you have a good idea to roll with, but quite another when you see it all come together as other people share the vision. Hats off to The Market for coming onboard what many other theatres might have run from…

Seeing as almost the full company is up here in Joburg (we’re just missing Sma, Yusrah and Ma Angela) as well as some of our extended FTH:K family (Dan, Jori, Kim and Tara) this blog is going to be about this Fest for…well…at least the duration of the blog-writer’s stay in JHB!

Keep ‘em peeled for more tomorrow…but until then, here’s to new and exciting adventures…

Listen Eyes buttons cropped 60 This has to be one of the biggest projects that we have ever done, here at FTH:K. A Festival of our work with workshops, exhibitions and discussions to boot!

From the 29th August – 26th September 2010, FTH:K will  FTHK presents cropped inverted 60team up with The Market Theatre to produce a unique festival of Visual Theatre, called Listen With Your Eyes: a festival of the visual. A first of its kind, the Festival will present Market theatre logo 60an artistic programme of outstanding non-verbal performance (that’s QUACK! by day, Womb Tide by night) with an accompanying education programme of workshops, lecture-demonstrations and exhibitions.  Most important, though, is the fact that this Festival is going to be accessible to the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and hearing communities within JHB and its surrounds.

Presented in collaboration with the Joburg Arts Alive Festival, as part of the 2010 Deaf Awareness Week celebrations, and with project partners like Sci-bono, Gauteng School’s Festival, The Citizen, The Distell Foundation, and DTV, the Listen With Your Eyes festival will include daily performances of two professional performances (the multi-award-nominated Deaf/hearing performance QUACK!, and a new FTH:K-Lara Foot collaboration Womb Tide), as well as host workshops and lecture-demonstrations with Deaf and hearing participants from the ages of 15 and up.  Interactive exhibitions on the eye and how it reads information will be hosted at Sci-Bono, while Deaf visual artist, Tommy Motswai, will be presenting an exhibition of his work in the Market Theatre Gallery.  And Darren Rajbal (Deaf winner of South Africa’s Got Talent) will be opening the Festival.

Cool, huh??

And why the festival?  Well, as you know, part of FTH:K’s mission is to expose the Deaf to the potential career opportunities within the performing arts and to facilitate their integration into the world of live performance through training, skills transfer and job creation. Being the only company of its kind in the country, FTH:K has a responsibility to reach out to Deaf communities outside of the Western Cape. As such, Market Theatre Artistic Director, Malcolm Purkey, and FTH:K Company Director, Tanya Surtees, developed this Festival to address the need for a raised profile in theatre work that creates opportunities for people with disabilities without compromising artistic quality. The Market Theatre is arguably the country’s most important theatre while FTH:K is recognised both nationally and internationally for creating Deaf/hearing work that competes on contemporary stages. This marriage of visions sees the Market Theatre making its programming more accessible to diverse communities with FTH:K developing the profile of integrated theatre in the country’s capital. Ultimately, both The Market Theatre and FTH:K would like to see this Festival as an annual event, and with the proceeds of the Festival, The Market is considering installing a Loop System to make its future programming more accessible to hearing impaired communities.

Festival Schedule:

· 23rd – 28th August: Technical set-up and rehearsals

· 29th August @ 3:00 pm: Preview 1 (Womb Tide)

· 31st August @ 10:30 am Preview 2 (QUACK!)

· 31st August @ 8:15 pm Preview 3 (Womb Tide)


· 2nd – 26th September: Daily performances, workshops, exhibitions & lecture-demonstrations (no workshop on the 2nd)

Daily Schedule

3 – 17 September:

08H15 – 10H00 10H00 – 10H30 10H30 – 12H00 12H00 – 13H30

2 – 26 September:

15H30 – 17H00 17H00 – 17H30 17H30 – 19H00 20H15 – 21H30

Sound interesting?! Damn straight it is!!  And remember, we can only accommodate 100 people per show and workshop – and bookings have already started rolling in – so don’t leave your bookings to the last minute.

  • BOOK NOW for Womb Tide
  • For reduced scholar tickets, call 011 – 832 1641 and ask for Anthony or Tiny

See you there!!