Archive for the ‘FTH:K Online’ Category

Life is changing…constantly. Given that art should reflect life, it only makes sense that theatre companies should also be evolving constantly, and FTH:K certainly is. The newest change that we have taken on is in how we raise our money. You already know about Elred’s Epic Journey, but we have recently added a new tool to the FTH:K box of tricks: Vidamo!

FTHKiPhone4Vidamo As Auntie Ana says (that’s our super-cool CEO), “With the changing nature of the funding landscape both locally and internationally, we have to source new ways of generating income.” Not just a pretty face, hey? Following a call to our supporters to help us find exciting new ways to chase sustainability, we were overwhelmed when an individual sponsor not only introduced us to the Vidamo platform but also pledged to fund the service for us! So cool. “The Vida-what-mo platform??”, you ask. What this means is that, through Vidamo, FTH:K’s fundraising platform can be accessed from your mobile phone or desktop, and is a quick and easy way to support us as we finish off 2012 and move into a new 2013 phase. Yep – you’re just a few clicks away from helping us reach our fundraising goal from the FTH:K Family!

To make a donation, all you need to do is SMS “FTHK” to 45825*, or scan the code which will be available on the FTH:K website early next week. An SMS reply will be sent to your phone instantly with a url link to follow, giving you access to the mobile web platform. You are also able to select from a number of premium-rated SMS options: donate R10, R20 or R30*. Alternatively, you can opt to donate using your credit card. And as if this wasn’t cool enough, on the FTH:K Facebook page you can click on the donation tab to make a donation using the payment platform.

codeAccording to Paulette van Heerden, Account Director at the Vidamo Group, there are 46.4 million mobile users in South Africa, and 14 million people actively using mobile web and data services. She also says a further 6 million desktop users can access the application via the FTH:K website and Facebook page while international users are also able to donate by credit card or through the online platform. Now, if we can get a fraction of these fabulous people to come play with FTH:K, our future looks pretty damn cool! And the added bonus? Vidamo’s platforms also allow us to communicate with our database and manage other services like ticketing and event management. Huh? Huh?? Exactly.

Sine and Elred race 300 So, back to one of our awesome existing supporters, Elred Lawrence, and his Epic Journey. We’re going to use his cycle tour along an ancient pilgrim route in Europe to raise funds for FTH:K and test out our new gadget!

Give it a try. C’mon…you know you wanna…

*45825@R1.50/SMS | 38387@R10/SMS | 40447@R20/SMS | 42116@R30/SMS | Errors billed. T&C’s apply. SMS donations are subject to network and admin deductions.

Wow. Where did January go?! Just as we gear up to say hi and welcome back to an exciting new year of FTH:K magic, we are already in February! Is this the kind of time-travel parents are talking about when they say, “they grow up so fast, don’t they?”?

So, respectfully, let’s take a moment to reflect on the out-going year…and the in-coming year…

2011 2012 in sand

…and that’s about as tranquil as you’ll get from FTH:K!

Why? Because we have a heap of exciting things planned for you this year! For the first time ever, the FTH:K Family extends from Grahamstown to Cape Town to Washington, DC, making us both international and inter-continental, and plans are already afoot to make 2012 an epic start to a new chapter in the life of the Company. Our Trainees Marlon, Christo, and Themba, are back in the house, led by our new Artistic Director, Jayne, and new CEO, Ana – all ably assisted by Company Director, Tanya, and Creative Consultant, Rob “Ugli Bob”. So it really is business as usual…with the plans for world domination talking hold…

On the cards for the year is our biggest national tour yet with workshops and performances of OfficeBLOCK going to KZN, Gauteng, Free State, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, and Mpumalanga; a Cape-Town season of OfficeBLOCK at the Baxter Theatre; an exchange with our American partners at the National Arts Festival; and two new visual theatre works, in true FTH:K style. And if that wasn’t enough, there are also performances at Infecting the City, South African Sign Language classes, English Literacy classes, weekly sessions at Dominican School for Deaf Children, weekly theatre-training sessions, Arts and Culture Days…and…and…and…

Remember to keep checking our website for updates and if you have any questions, drop us an email. If you want to tell us how cool we are, hit us up on Facebook. If you want to tell everyone else how cool we are, #tweet for us. And if for some reason your hand keeps reaching for your pocket, don’t fight it: drop some moolah in our coffers! But most importantly, give us the pleasure of looking out into our audiences and seeing you looking back.

And as for 2012, fasten your seatbelt, sit back, and enjoy the ride!

OfficeBLOCK: … as usual…. will be performed at the Intimate Theatre in Cape Town from 15 to 19 November by the talented Tell-Tale Signs trainees Marlon Snyders, Christopher Beukes and Sinethemba Mgebisa under the direction of artistic director Rob Murray.

Joining them on stage is FTH:K’s leading performer, Liezl de Kock (Fleur du Cap Nominee for Best Female performer in Womb Tide), with set and costume design by Jayne Batzofin, and lighting design by Murray.
The work is the first phase of the ArtsBridge International Exchange piece. ArtsBridge is a collaboration with Wings Theatre Company in the USA and is the creative wing of Quest Visual Theatre. This piece will travel to Washington D.C. early next year, where it will be developed further, in collaboration with Wings for the Quest Fest in February before bringing it back to the National Arts Festival and a South African tour.

Getting the sequence right in the OfficeBLOCK rehearsal. Cape Town, South Africa, October 2011.
An Except form the Artsbridge Showcase, August 2011.

The production centres around an office clerk stuck in a dead end job. Increasingly desperate and feeling trapped, he embarks on a journey to fight for his independence and identity against a stifling corporation.

Featuring FTH:K’s signature style of non-verbal theatre, the production promises to be an intriguing blend of physical and visual performance – gritty, poignant, and absurdly comic, with more than a little touch of magical realism.  “It’s Kafka meets The Matrix and is heavily inspired by The Little Prince!”enthuses Murray.

OfficeBLOCK: … as usual….   will be performed at the Intimate Theatre in Cape Town from 15 to 19 November at 8pm.

This run will also be a fundraiser for the Artsbridge project. Tickets cost R30. Tuesdays is Twosdays – buy one ticket and get two.

Suit Up for Friday night’s show wearing your interpretation of a suit. Enjoy a summer bring ‘n braai on Saturday night after the show . There are also great prizes to be won.

For further information and bookings contact Angela on 021 4482838 or

FTHK is buzzing again.

PPC wins BASA Award for their work with us!

Last night, Ana and Ugli hit the BASA Awards in Jozi where 3 of our funders were up for awards for the contributions to FTHK. As a special treat, Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler of Handspring Puppet Company presented ‘Topthorn’ of their world famous War Horse production. (Read further to get an upclose and personal look at the horse puppets of Handspring)

Adrian Kohler, Topthorn... and is that... Craig Leo ?

In the world of arts management, it’s no secret that your funders are your backbone, but far too often they don’t get the credit they deserve. It’s no longer  about just printing a logo at the bottom of your flyer: it’s about celebrating the work of the people who support you.

This year, PPC, Distell and CitiVibe were all nominated for supporting FTHK, with PPC winning the BASA Award for Increasing Accessibility to the Arts.

Picture by Rob Murray

Ana of FTHK and Franci of PPC with the Loot!

Last year, PPC sponsored our Tell-Tale Signs Tour, which gave our Deaf trainees the opportunity to tour the country, performing Tales from the Trash and conduct clowning workshops to Deaf schools around the country.

 All our funders really are the wind beneath our wings..  Thanks to them (as well as Bette Midler) we can present to you:

Benchmarks in Cape Town!

Rob Murray docks his ship at the NAF, headed for Cape Town's Out The Box Festival

For only 3 shows, Benchmarks will be performing at this years Out The Box Festival, which we’ve heard is bigger and bolder than before. More than anything, we absolutely love playing for our home-crowd, our biggest supporters.  The piece is even set in Cape Town, and if that doesn’t pay homage we’re not sure what will.

Have you yet heard about it from the horse’s mouth?

If you’re in Cape Town and want to get a full package of visual and cutting edge theatre, book a tour with CoffeebeansRoutes who will be taking groups of people to the Handspring Puppet Company workshop, where you can get a close up view of the mechanics of the puppets, followed by a meet the artist drink, and in their words, then watch one “OTB’s top shows”, Benchmarks on Thursday the 8th of September.

We, as FTHK, are so grateful for all the support we receive, from our funder friends to and our loyal family members. You guys make this all possible.

Come see us, Benchmarks and a conspiracy of clowns’s Kardiavale at the festival.. and as per usual… book at Computicket!

Dates for FTHK’s Benchmarks at Hiddingh Campus

  • Thursday 8 September: 17:00 and 20:00
  • Friday 9 September: 11:00

Dates for a conspiracy of clowns’ Kardiavale at Hiddingh Campus

  • Monday 5 September: 18:00 and 21:30
  • Tuesday 6 September: 11:00
Visit FTHK online for anything else you might like to know.

Non – Verbal  101.



“V for Victory”

“Well done!”


“Can I get a ride?”


“Let the gladiator live”

Your mother.

One day, Oke and China were chatting.

“Howzit bru, check, you must come check this show, Benchmarks, at Out the Box Festival on the 8th and 9th of September, it’s this non-verbal.. “


“Ya, they don’t use words.”

“Ag no man, “

“Just listen, Benchmarks is”

“Benchmarks? I’ll out bench you and your man-sister.”

“Not that kind bench man, and my sister will moer you. “

“Did she say something about me?”

“No man, why?”

“Just asking”

“So ya, this the new show from FTH:K, was on the National Arts Main Programme, which means they are like the kak of theatre.”

“The kak?”

“Like the shit but..”

“Die kak.”

“KKNK thing. “

“Righto. With you.”

“Anyway, they do non-verbal visual theatre, each of the performers wears these flippin’ amazing masks”

 “Wait, wait, wait, go back what is ‘non-verbal’?”

“Yeah, something about hearing with your eyes,”

“Hearing with your eyes? No man. Is this this new girlfriend of yours, making you watch this poefde stuff.”

“Poefde? Who you calling a poefde?”

You used to hate art man

“Yeah but this was like.. you know, cool. (PAUSE) They do this fokking funny thing with Single Ladies ey, you will laugh.”

“Hahaha, that’s what you used to do, funny things to single ladies, before you met that culture-vulture woman of yours,  turning you into a poefde. I’d rather date your sister than your lady.”

“Hey china, I’m warning you,

Poefde is a offensive term.”

“AN Offensive term.


“You know I hate it when you correct me”

“Okay, okay man, what about this non-word-al”

“Non-verbal. They make all their shows so that they be heard by the Deaf okes and people that can hear.”

“The Deaf can’t hear you poephol.”

“It’s simile, no, a metaphor, like, like..”

“Tata Ma’Chance Tata Ma Millions”

“Isn’t that the Lotto slogan? Is that also a metaphor?”


“Similar, similar”

“Similar ya no def.”


“So yah Benchmarks ey… it’s about these 3 people, a oke at Home Affairs, a beautiful old lady and this refugee, all misplaced, all in masks, all looking for…”

“So now do they use sign-language?”

“No.. it’s non-verbal…”

“Fok man, what do you mean non-verbal?”

“Listen with your eyes bru, like check:”

“Listen with your eyes. So you going to come?”

“Ya no cool, flip, hundreds, but ya so, can your sister come?

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…


by Cristina Salvoldi- Photo by Wendy Birt

Benchmarks, not only the name of our new show, but the goalposts we keep moving.

Here’s where we’ve come so far:

 “ FTH:K is an independent and vibrant theatre company that has enriched the South African theatre landscape with its original and unique approach to visual theatre. Having pioneered itself as a groundbreaking South African theatre company which casts both hearing and Deaf actors, their work challenges and enriches both the artists and the audiences through a combination of visual and performing arts forms such as puppetry, masks and live performance. As trendsetters of this genre in South Africa, it is clearly evident that the current growth in visual theatre on the festival and mainstream circuit is influenced by FTH:K’s prolific style and their ability to continually raise the bar both on excellence and innovation.”
-Ismail Mahomed, Director of the National Arts Festival

Some of you, those loyal enough to have been at our AGM will remember Ugli Bob‘s rundown of the artistic journey which explained how we got to now and for those of you who weren’t there – We’re only telling you this twice.

Phase 1:

The company has its roots in what we call our Environmental Phase. Tanya and Rob started out as dance and drama teachers at Community Arts Project (CAP) where they started the  Professional Development Programme (PDP). Under this banner they combined African storytelling with mime and created the piece Touch Wood in 2003.

Wayyyy back

Full cast of Touch Wood- Photo by Steve Kretzmann

This was created in response to fires that blazed on Table Mountain for weeks.  This was followed  by Water Pockets and very crucially, Imbew’embi: The Bad Seed, which saw the Rob collaborate for the first time with Janni Younge, for the making of shadow puppets.  Water Pockets was the first production to be housed by a major theatre, and enjoyed a run at the Artscape Arena.

In 2005,  FTH:K was officially launched and with funding from the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF), was able to employ its staff on a full-time basis. Water Pockets toured the Western Cape and a crucial stylistic benchmark happened with the creation of  Leap of Faith for the Mental Health and Disability Conference. This was the companies first integrated piece, with hearing and Deaf performers. Scripts were thrown out, and the non-verbal style that would become the companies trademark, entrenched itself.

2005 was also the the year the company won the ACT Cultural Development Award, and the Western Cape Award for Disability in the Arts. 

Phase 2

Having developed stylistically, FTH:K entered into its second phase – Integrated Theatre: where the company did away with written scripts and made their work more accessible to the Deaf and hearing. 2006 saw the beginning of the Integrated Professional Development Programme (IPDP). Liezl de Kock and Lysander Barends joined the programme and became long-standing members. Liezl is still with the company while Lysander left after five long years.

Generating new forms of income:

At the time the NLDTF funding was coming to an end and the company turned to associated producing to generate income. Here they threw themselves in the deep-end of marketing to produce shows such as the Dogs Bollocks by Gaëtan Schmid and Birds’ Eye View. The company then won the ACT Most Successful Company Award.

At the end of 2006, the company created Gumbo which was a fully integrated Deaf and hearing clowning production.

Gumbo in Argentina

Benchmark: South America

2007 was the year of Gumbo. The show toured around the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Pietermaritzburg, Polokwane, Johannesburg as well as Frieburg, Berlin, and Munich in Germany and Argentina. During this year, FTH:K’s friendship circle grew enormously and left a strong impression on two particular Wits students, Simangele and Jayne. Both ladies would later move to Cape Town and become full-time employees of the company, Simangele in 2010 as Educational Co-ordinator and Jayne as a theatre-maker, performer and designer in 2009.

By 2008, Gumbo had it’s 100th performance at the Baxter Studio and as the company grew, it became more accepted as a visual theatre company rather than a company that was Deaf specific.

The tag line, “a conspiracy of clowns” became the name of the experimental wing of the company, and premiered Pictures of You, their debut piece in 2008. Pictures of You went on to be the sleeper hit of the National Arts Festival.

Phase 3

By 2009, FTH:K entered into its 3rd and current phase – Visual Theatre. Pictures of You, by the Conspiracy of Clowns in association with FTH:K ran at the Baxter and at the National Arts Festival where it was the top selling show of the festival.

"Mama I made it!"

Stylistically the company was moving away from sign language in their shows as they had done with Gumbo, which had its 124th performance in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Sign language just seemed to make hearing audiences uncomfortable and left out.

In that same year, FTH:K produced their first Deaf only piece, Ek Roep vir Jou Vanaand created by Lysander and directed by Liezl. This piece toured both Deaf and hearing schools around the Western Cape.

At the end of 2009, QUACK! was born. This dark and edgy story premiered at the Baxter and brought on new collaborators, Jayne Batzofin, who then joined the company, as well as Jori Snell.

2010 was a bumpy year as the company spent much of its time on tour. The company ran three major productions, Pictures of You, QUACK! and the newest offering Womb Tide. The Deaf trainees, Marlon, Tomri and Christo along with Simangele Mabena, the companies new education co-ordinator, did a national tour of the country with their piece, Tales from the Trash.

In September the company left to conquer Johannesburg, running a season at the Market Theatre, playing both QUACK! and Womb Tide.

- Photo by Wendy Birt

The company  also won their first Fleur Du Cap, awarded to Rob “Ugli Bob” Murray for his lighting design

For 2011, the trainee piece Shortcuts is set to tour nationally. The Conspiracy of Clowns premiers their new piece Kardiàvale in May and a “Conspiracy of Clowns in association with FTH:K” piece, debuts Benchmarks at the National Arts Festival.

Benchmarks will be on the Main Programme of the festival, just another benchmark for FTH:K.

Rob’s Conclusion:

” 6 years old and we often have to pinch ourselves at the good fortune and success we have had.  Success that is moderate according to our ambitions, but immense in terms of the groundswell and recognition we have achieved not only for Deaf education, or the integration of the Deaf and the hearing, but of massive strides we have undertaken in ushering in and being part of the Visual Theatre wave sweeping across the country, as well as backing that up by innovative business and organisational development, marketing, and publicity.

Packing the massive trailer to head off to Oudtshoorn and the KKNK recently, Tink sighed and said to me wistfully: “You remember when we used to make theatre on string and bubble-gum?”, harking back to the days where a set was a bucket, or a few umbrellas, and fitted into the boot of a car as did all the performers and tech crew, and not a trailer and mini-bus load.  It is true that our production values have increased (often to the headache of our managers and budgets), and our vocabulary has become more sophisticated, but one thing our work has always been is very rich.  Because it has been made on and by the bodies, hearts, and imaginations of a particularly awesome group of people.  Misfits, clowns, fools the lot of us.  But rich and strong and passionate.  And this will make all the difference.

Ladies and gentlemen, we may not be the biggest company in the world, or the country, and not enough people know about us yet, but the people you see before you tonight, represent perhaps one of the hardest working companies.  I salute you all, as well as our ardent supporters, and extended family, and promise the best is yet to come.”

And strangely, we’re not talking about our Executive Committee!

Recently our designer, Tom, came to visit to teach us how to update our website from this side – such an awesome website; such an awesome dude. Anyway, a friend popped in to drop him off at the office and in doing so, happened upon The Holy White Board.

The what?!

The Holy White Board.  The skeletal structure of FTH:K’s yearly planning.  The thing that makes sure that FTH:K knows what it is doing at all times.  The piece of wall that makes us warm in deep places when we look at it. Well…some of us, at least…

So impressed was he that Google Alerts informed me the following day that the pictures he took of it (yes, he took pictures) had ended up on his blog…check it out!

But if you don’t have the time for that, simply scroll down and marvel at the wonder that is our


The board that rules our lives

You might notice splashes of colour here and there, yes?  That’s because we have coloured-coded everything!  So what you’re looking at is a collection of confirmed performances, pending performances, confirmed workshops, pending workshops, school holidays, refresher breaks (yes, we get some of those), birthdays, special days, and magnetic funder’s logos reminding us of our funding deadlines.  Each with their own colour and/or shape. Tell me this doesn’t move you??

The pink thing is today

Oh, and as we explained to him, the pink thing is TODAY.

Feel free to contact us for all specialised Holy White Board consultation…

Check out the website!!

Posted: July 1, 2010 in FTH:K Online

Hey troops!!  Tom Schwarer – the most talented designer in the world – together with his coding partner-in-crime, Gareth Cornish, have started a company called Black Square, and have revamped our website entirely!  It’s beautiful.  It’s fabulous.  It’s awesome.


Today, my wonderful Google Alerts gave me the heads up about an article recently posted on Artslink that clocked FTH:K.  On reading it, I was moved by the sentiments behind the words and am grateful to Thami Mbongo for this recognition of our work (kinda ironic, given that the article is entitled Theatre that changes lives not for recognition, but hey! I’m sure Thami understands).  You can click here to read the full article, but of FTH:K, he says:

“FTH: K (From the hip * Khulumakahle)
The extraordinary work that Tanya Surtees and Rob Murray have done with their lovely company – they have decided that they needed to cater for the people that are forgotten in a way in our theatre circle.

The company focus is to offer access to theatre training for the Deaf community and to prepare Deaf and hearing performers for entrance into the professional theatre industry.

It is high time that our theatre makers and theatres at large do think about offering work to the Deaf community artists.

The success of the company productions and the efficient way they run their company is outstanding and should be applauded. The company have won Arts and Culture Trust’s Award for Cultural Development Project of 2005 among others.

I wish the company’s goal does come true as they wish to open South Africa’s first Deaf and hearing Integrated Theatre Training Centre in Cape Town.

I salute the FTH: K and would like to say we as young aspiring theatremakers who have dreams of opening their own theatre companies one day – we do learn a lot from your company. Keep up with the great work.”

Thanks, Thami!  Great respect to you for standing behind the companies like ours.