Archive for the ‘Ek Roep Vir Jou Vanaand’ Category


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.”

At last, FTH:K is working its last day before the well-deserved holidays kick in, bringing 3 weeks of fun, sun and beer (and a Mexican New Year for some of us ;-). That’s before we come back to take 2010 by the scruff of its neck and shake what its mama gave it in true FTH:K style.  But for now, just fun, sun and beer! As we reflect on 2009, we are reminded of how lucky we are to do what we love for a living, and how grateful we are to all of you who have supported us over the year.  Everything FTH:K achieves happens through collaboration in one way or another, and so from all of us here we say a huge, hands-flapping THANK YOU for your role in our development. We really wouldn’t be here were it not for people like you.  Go team!

Nolly & 2009 FTHK braai 092

Whew. Ok, so 2009 has been one hellova year for FTH:K. I know we say that every year, but seriously, this time we really mean it! And if you don’t believe us, have a look below at some of the highlights of our year:


  • Pictures of You clocks in as the highest grossing theatre production on the National Arts Festival fringe programme, and 12th highest across all categories
  • Besides the NAF, Pictures of You plays to huge success at the Suidoosterfees, the Baxter Theatre, the Western Cape School’s Festival, the Festival of Fame, and the Witness Hilton Arts Festival
  • Company Manager, Tanya Surtees, is invited to present the Keynote Address at the Western Cape School’s Festival
  • FTH:K features at South Africa’s first large-scale Deaf and hearing party called SenCity (click here to see the DTV clip – and see if you can spot Frank and Janet of Pictures of You boogieing down on the dance floor)
  • GUMBO travels to Argentina to have its 124th (and final…sniff…) performance in Buenos Aires (click here to see the tribute made by Clare Louise Thomas)
  • QUACK! plays to sell-out houses at the National Arts Festival and the Intimate Theatre
  • Ek Roep Vir Jou Vanaand, FTH:K’s first all-Deaf performance, tours to schools around the Western Cape and enjoys a run at the Intimate Theatre
  • FTH:K launches a new level to its Tell-Tale Signs training programme to prepare talented Deaf learners for employment in the Company
  • Compared with 2008, FTH:K doubles its beneficiaries in the Western Cape, doubles its reach to previously disadvantaged individuals, trebles its Deaf beneficiaries, and doubles the number of people employed by the company

No bad huh??  And there’s actually more but we can see we’re making you blush already…

So, what’s next, you ask?


  • Pictures of You is back by popular demand for a 2-week run at the Baxter Theatre (1st – 13th February)
  • QUACK! heads off to QuestFest in Washington DC and the team tours around the Mid-Atlantic region with an education programme (29th Feb – 16th March)
  • QUACK! returns to wow Cape Town audiences at the Out The Box Festival (+/- 24th – 27th March)
  • Womb Tide premieres in the National Arts Festival’s Arena Programme (watch this space for details)
  • FTH:K presents a month-long festival of visual theatre, workshops and discussions at the Market Theatre (23rd Aug – 26th Sept)

Yes, we are going to be one busy little company next year…

And with that, the only thing left to say is


(and happy holidays!!)

Last night, Ek Roep Vir Jou Vanaand opened at the Intimate Theatre on Hiddingh Campus to a wonderfully warm and responsive crowd. It’s such a charming production and with only 5 performances in its short run, it is in essence a project packed full of experiential learning for the people involved in it.  If you have ever produced a show, your first show, you will know what we mean.  It’s not just the show that you have to work on.  It’s all the teeny-tiny things that go into the creation of a performance event from page to stage.  Like??  Organising a guest list, programmes, flyers, tickets, an audience, a float, front of house, snacks, wine, a barman, a corkscrew and and and…! All this while making sure the performers have what they need, are doing what they need to do, and that the performance is ready to go up on time every night.  It’s not easy!  I’d like to say that we work haaaaard for the money, but I guess the truth is simply that we work hard!!

Through all of this, balancing full-time QUACK! rehearsals by day, the Ek Roep team has pulled it off and celebrated with an awesome Opening Night.  The FTH:K Management Team has taken a very hands-off approach in the whole process: if the Ek Roep team needed something done, the FTH:K professionals were there.  But it had to come from the Ek Roep crew first.  And to their credit, they took on the majority of the work themselves, wrestling with the beast and coming out triumphant on the other side.  And as we at FTH:K step back and take a breath, just before we launch into the final push for 2009, it’s important to look and where we’ve come from and what we have achieved.  So often our eyes are on that prize over there, in front of us, the one we’re driving towards.  And while that’s very necessary (if not vital) for growth, it’s equally important every now and then to look around at where you are, and back at where you started.  And feel proud.  Last night, we felt proud.  Of everything our small but big-hearted company has achieved.  We seem to be The Little Theatre Company That Could, and that’s a beautiful thing to be involved in.  Oh, it’s all so delicate and we always remind ourselves of how it could turn on its head at any moment, but for now, for this moment of calm, I think that it’s safe to say we are all really blessed to have joined FTH:K on its unexpected, unusual and unpredictable journey!

Grin FINAL inverted ONCRM 400 *grin*

The end of the year for FTH:K means a time of showing you all what we have been up to throughout the year.  Well, all the stuff that we’re allowed to show you, of course!

Ek Roep in rehearsal An exciting project that we have been working on is a performance called Ek Roep Vir Jou Vanaand which some of you might remember from the showcase we did last year.  The piece came out of our Autocourse programme and this year, FTH:K‘s leading Deaf performer, Lysander Barends, was thrilled to receive his first individual funding grant from the National Arts Council for this autobiographical performance.

Since then, the Ek Roep team have been hard at work turning the short performance into a full-length work, touring it to schools in and around Cape Town, and preparing it for its short run at the Intimate Theatre from 27th – 31st October.

Performed by Lysander Barends and Marlon Snyders, and directed by Liezl de Kock, Ek Roep Vir Jou Vanaand is an exciting two-hander that takes an intimate and sometimes off-beat look at the many
facets of a father and son trying to make ends meet in antagonizing times. Their humour and relentlessness, coupled with shadow puppetry, soundscapes and non-verbal performance, make these characters and their story a visual gem.

  • Directed by Liezl de Kock
  • Based on an original idea by Lysander Barends
  • Devised by Lysander Barends and Marlon Snyders
  • Set design by Jade Bowers
  • Venue: Intimate Theatre, Cape Town
  • Dates: 27 (preview) -31 October 2009
  • Times: 7:00 – 8:00 pm
  • Tickets: R20 (preview) & R30
  • Cast: Lysander Barends and Marlon Snyders

Contact us if you would like to know more or if you would like to book your tickets.

Ek Roep Collage ONCRM 600