Archive for the ‘OfficeBLOCK’ Category

NAF logo colour on white Perhaps you have heard by now that FTH:K won’t be at the National Arts Festival this year. If not, now you know! This was difficult decision for us to take because we haven’t missed a Festival…well…ever, but something we have learnt along the way is that sometimes “No” is the right answer. And this realisation was particularly hard to come to – after all, FTH:K’s history is peppered with enthusiastic “Yes!”’s, which we’re proud of because they have taken us to places that we would never have gone to and offered us opportunities that we would never have had otherwise. But gradually, in our annual Strategic Planning sessions, this idea of “We need to learn how to say no” raised its head. First apologetically, but over time more insistently until we knew we had to listen! We weren’t that small group anymore than could pack up the whole company in an old kit bag and head on down the road. Moreover, as the company grew, so did our outputs which meant greater demands on our resources (financial and human) and we had to accept that we needed to start choosing our engagements carefully, strategically, and with respect to the people leading, supporting, and participating in them.

It's a secret! The 2012 National Arts Festival is one such time. We recently played the Main Festival programme with Benchmarks and have a major project in the pipeline for our next NAF appearance. We just realised that forcing it to happen this year would actually be a disservice to the whole event, that it could definitely benefit from more time and planning. So as much as we will miss you, we hope you will miss us too! But we believe that this is only going to make us all happier in the long run. As for what the project is? Heh…you’ll just have to wait and see. But it’s awesome. So, keep ‘em peeled for 2013 NAF…that’s all we gonna tell you right now..

OfficeBLOCK Poster web But hang on: does this mean that we are not going to be onstage until then?? *gasp* Don’t be ridiculous! We’ve decided to team up once more with the fabulous Baxter Theatre to present our newest work OfficeBLOCK from the 10th – 21st July in the Golden Arrow Studio Theatre. The work hasn’t been seen in the Western Cape since it was reworked in 2012 for its National Tour so it’s not to be missed, okes. Mark these dates down now, but details will follow soon-soon…

Clowns on the run 250 Those of you who follow us regularly (we love you) will know that every year FTH:K hits the road for a National Tour. The tradition was inadvertently started by The GUMBO Tour in 2007 that came to be through a grant from the now-defunct Conference, Workshop and Cultural Initiative Fund – at that point, our biggest sponsor ever. In so many ways, this grant was a learning curve for us: in how we budgeted, how we managed the money, how we reported on activities etc (working with the EU and its rules was quite something for the 2-year-old FTH:K!); but the tour also made us realise just how many organisations, institutions, schools, theatres, festivals, learners were out there. At first, this was a little demoralising: how was our little company ever going to be able to reach the people we needed to when we were so small and all the way down in the Western Cape?? It took us a few strategic planning sessions to find the answer: slowly and consistently. We didn’t realise that we had stumbled over an idea that would later be fleshed out in an Arts Management principle nicked from Michael Kaiser: not in a day, not without failure, not without discipline. So we decided that we would prioritise an annual National Tour, presenting a performance and education programme in at least three provinces – a goal we are proud to surpass almost every year.

Collecting the set in DBNAnd in typical FTH:K style, in 2012 we shot for the stars and took on our biggest National Tour yet. First KZN, then the Free State, Gauteng, and the Western Cape. (We were meant to go to Mpumalanga as well but the demand and interest there seemed so small that we couldn’t justify the expense of getting the team up there. However, this is a province we will keep working on in our endeavour to get into every province in the country. First SA, then the wooooooooorld!) Putting thoughts of world domination aside, the first leg of the tour has just been finished. Last weekend, we welcomed the touring team back and gave them a well-deserved week off. But not before our Artistic Director, Jayne, jotted down some tour impressions for you all:

KwaVulindlebe School for the Deaf “This has been my first ever FTH:K National Schools’ Tour and it was an eye-opening experience to say the least. And since at FTH:K we “listen with our eyes”, I have been doing a LOT of listening! This KZN tour was the biggest of our National Tours to date, with 5 hearing schools, 5 Deaf schools and 1 Deaf institute on our itinerary, and our chock-a-block 2-week schedule took us from Durban to Mooi River and back again.

KwaThintwa School for the Deaf - workshop At the Deaf schools, the learners were thirsty for drama knowledge, looking to Marlon, Sine and Christo as role models. At the hearing schools, the learners were thirsty for sign language and information on Deaf culture, looking to our Trainees as a welcome access point to something unknown. No matter which school we attended, the learners welcomed us with open minds and big smiles.

OfficeBLOCK - Promotion - DeafSA Without a doubt, OfficeBLOCK has been a controversial show to tour, questioning and unpacking the global threat known as The Corporation. Making the learners engage with uncomfortable subject matter is never a simple task, but using the medium of non-verbal performance we found them mesmerised. They laughed with Sinethemba. They covered their mouths in horror at Christo and Asanda. They sympathised with Marlon. And by curtain call all hands were frantically waving in the air: a sure sign that we had achieved what we set out to do.

St Marry's DSG - Deaf applause This is the beauty of Visual Theatre. It creates a singular and integrated experience for an audience member, engaging them in a conversation of images that requires their presence to complete the theatrical contract. And the learners got this, perhaps more readily than many adults who are so used to being “helped along” by words.

Our National School Tours are a bold reminder of why we do what we do, and we are most certainly looking forward to the next time we visit KZN!”

Here’s to 2013!

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!


Posted: January 16, 2012 in Jobs, OfficeBLOCK

It’s that time of the year again! We are holding auditions for the super-exciting National Tour of OfficeBLOCK. (Sorry, ladies only!)

OfficeBLOCK is a visual, non-verbal, dark comedy.

  • Production Type: Professional
  • Project length: Full-length (55 mins)
  • Production location: National Tour (KZN, GP, FS, WC, EC )
  • Company website:
  • Director: Jayne Batzofin
  • Audition Location: Observatory Community Centre
  • Audition Time: 10am – 1pm (The audition takes form of a workshop so please be present for the full time)
  • Email:


  • Audition: 23 January 2012
  • Rehearsals Start: 13 February – 10 April 2012
  • Touring Dates*: 10 – 30 April 2012; 1-31 July; 8 Aug-8 September; theatrical seasons and touring in 2012 *TBC


OfficeBLOCK is a series of vignettes about life around the office water cooler. The characters stand for sexism, ambition, corruption and a conflict between the individual and the corporation. It is a thought-provoking depiction of the tyranny of conformity and the culture of corporate greed. The four characters are: a junior clerk finding his way in the corporate environment as the newcomer; a female executive fighting against degrading sexism and the Boys Club in the office; an office executive driven by ambition and greed in a militant fashion; and an ageing colleague coming to terms with his life at a desk.


Gender: Female

Age: Mid 20’s – Mid 30’s

The character plays constantly between the male/female gender identity, constantly trying to prove her self-worth in the office. She is emotional but never sentimental, and can be equally brash if needs be.


  1. This is a physical workshop-audition so please come prepared for movement in appropriate clothes.
  2. The candidate must be prepared to be part of the FTH:K activities while on tour. This will/may include workshops, residencies, social events and interviews.
  3. The performer can be of any ethnic origin, between 20 and 35 years of age, and of any height. But she must be able to play male and female roles successfully.
  4. The performer preferably (but not necessarily) should have skills in the following areas:
  • Movement/ Dance
  • Clowning
  • Physical theatre/performance
  • Improvisation and workshopping skills


Please send a CV and a current photo to Jayne Batzofin at to book your place. For further details, please call 021 448 2838.

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, National Arts Festival

Officially speaking….

The dynamic young organisation, which this year celebrated its sixth birthday, moves into the next phase of growth with a strong focus on its education programmes including the Artsbridge International Exchange. In addition, the creative team will enjoy new artistic mentorship under the guidance of company member Jayne Batzofin, who has been with the company since 2009. Batzofin takes over the role of Artistic Director, and overseeing the company’s education and creative output, from founder and current Artistic Director Rob Murray, who is taking up the position of resident director with Janet Buckland’s Ubom! Company in Grahamstown.

“The first six years have been an exhilarating rollercoaster ride,” says Murray. “We have toured extensively nationally and internationally, won multiple awards and developed a ground-breaking theatre education programme for Deaf learners.

“It is now time to consolidate what has been created and build on that foundation to nurture a sustainable theatre training programme that provides opportunities to Deaf learners from all over the country. FTH:K is today an established entity in itself and has at its helm a strong new leadership team to take it into the next five years. “

Murray will be working with Batzofin as part of the handover which will also see Batzofin taking over as South African director of the Artsbridge International Exchange programme. Artsbridge is a two-year skills and cultural exchange project between Deaf and hearing communities in South Africa and the USA. It involves workshops, discussions and the creation of a work with Wings Theatre Company from the USA, which will be performed at QuestFest in Washington DC in March, followed by a national tour of South Africa. Batzofin was part of the team that travelled to the USA this year as part of the first phase of the project.

Company Director Tanya Surtees, who relocated to Washington DC earlier this year, will head up the Artsbridge Exchange from abroad while also working for QuestFest hosts, Quest Visual Theatre. She will remain on with FTH:K in an advisory capacity supporting Ana Lemmer, who joined FTH:K in March, in her new role as Company Director from 2012.

“It remains an honour to work for FTH:K, brokering the Exchange from the DC side and working to get the Company onto the international stage. It is humbling to see how over the years FTH:K has grown bigger than the vision of any one of its members or co-founders, and it is particularly satisfying to see new faces joining the family, fresh voices emerging in both leadership and creative roles, and old faces moving on to tackle new challenges.” says Surtees.

“2012 also marks the next phase of our Tell-Tale Signs education programme. The national tour next year with Artsbridge will include workshops that serve as an audition process for our next intake of trainees. This will be the first time we have been able to potentially offer places to students from outside of Cape Town. 2013 will mark the start of the three-year Deaf training programme, as well as a run of our latest production, Benchmarks, which won a Handspring Puppetry award,” says Murray.

“I am honoured to be working with Ubom! next year and, as a Rhodes graduate who studied under Andrew Buckland, I feel lucky to be returning to my theatrical roots.”

Joining Murray at Ubom! is company member Liezl de Kock who has been with FTH:K since 2006. Fleur du Cap-nominated actress de Kock will continue to perform her acclaimed roles in productions such as Pictures of You, Womb Tide and Benchmarks.

Batzofin graduated from Wits University Cum Laude with a BADA (Honours): majoring in directing and stage and costume design. She first met FTH:K in 2007 but was on her way to study for two years at the Jacques Lecoq School in Paris. On her return to South Africa, she joined the FTH:K team and has performed in and designed their highly acclaimed productions such as Womb Tide and Benchmarks. She has also played an integral role in the development of the Tell-Tale Signs programme as well as devised, designed and directed productions such as Shortcuts for the national schools tour.

“I am looking forward to working with the FTH:K team in my new role and helping to take the company to even greater heights,” says Batzofin. “It is a privilege to take over the mantle from Rob, and build on the outstanding work that he and the company have done to lay the foundations for the next five years.”

*FTH:K is a young, ground-breaking theatre company that works in the field of Visual Theatre. Without a dependency on any one language, its work crosses over cultural and linguistic divides and calls on audiences to “Listen With Your Eyes”. It has already won multiple awards, toured all over South Africa, Germany and Argentina, and in only 6 years, has reached more than 47 000 people.

More than that, FTH:K is South Africa’s premier Deaf and hearing theatre company with the goal of integrating the Deaf into the performing arts world in South Africa. This aim is best illustrated through its unique Tell-Tale Signs programme which is currently training South Africa’s first generation of Deaf artists for inclusion in the professional performing arts industry. There is currently no other project like it (nor has there ever been) running in South Africa.

FTH:K works include its award-winning performances of Pictures of You and Benchmarks (in association with a conspiracy of clowns), GUMBO, and its multi-award-nominated QUACK! and Womb Tide.

OfficeBLOCK closed on Saturday night and after a fantastic run, it was time for a celebration. Opening night catered for a South African and American mix of food that included corn DSCN6935dogs and mielies and mini hamburgers,and popcorn and also sorts of finger-food treats. If you hung around long enough, there were also cream tartlets and mini-pumpkin pies.

For closing night, what was going to be a braai that had both hotdogs and boerewors to again celebrate the Artsbridge journey that OfficeBLOCK would be taking, turned into a bunny chow night: home-made curries, fresh bread, salads and atchar. A solid, filling, tasty meal, that everyone of every diet could enjoy.  There was the option of vegetable curry and meat curry, and an amazing bean and banana salad, all home-made.


Often cocktail tomatoes, sliced carrots, little samoosas, tiny chicken wings and meat balls are a safe choice but what can we do to offer our audiences something new and tempting each time?  Do we rather cut the food budget and up the amount of free booze? Or do we continue to fight for the balance between food and drink? What kinds of foods can we arrange that fit out trying budgets, people’s diets and also give our audiences a 5-star welcome? Or will we always be celebrating theatre productions with culinary delights in miniature?


There have been great efforts made by theatre companies in Cape Town and they should get props. The Baxter Theatre had a huge make-over earlier this year and had an amazing variety of food, with various cold meats, breads, cheeses and jams, and biscuits that came with little tubes of chocolate or almond syrup you could flavour it with. Not to mention the cocktails that could be a little stronger with a wink and a smile to the barman – or so we heard.  The opening of KKNK was another hit: champagne that kept on coming and trays of quiches and skewered chicken being delivered by waiters  continuously. GIPCA gets a note in our books for a wonderful presentation of bread and cheese at the series of talks they held.

Theatre isn’t just about getting a bum on a seat. It’s about the entire experience being given to the patron. Considering that the audience has to drive all the way to your venue (petrol) possibly get someone to babysit the kids (cost), maybe have dinner or drinks with the people they’re with (another cost), purchase a ticket (minor cost), and then tip the car guard, it totals up to more than just the cost of a ticket. The full theatre experience will up the value of your production, ensure that your audiences will return and best of all, tell their friends about it.

To good food and even better theatre experiences: bon appétit!



Sneak Pictures from Friday’s rehearsal below!

OfficeBLOCK opens on Wednesday, with a preview on Tuesday night.

Rob, our artistic director and award-winning lighting designer will be spending today working out technical cues and once again showing-off his fabulous eye for lighting. Given that 3/4’s of the performers are Deaf, he has to take into account that the Deaf are hugely reliant on their sight and appropriate lighting for balance – especially when climbing on one another!

Jayne has been designing the set and costume. Although Jayne is from historically Joburg, she will give any designer in Cape Town a run for their money with her know-how of Cape Town’s streets,  and her keen eye for design and bargain.

Our newcomer Gali has been lending her hand in the dance department.  Gali Kumwimba nee Malebo, our education co-ordinator, has been involved in musical theatre up in the Free State and has been blessing us with her presence since June.  She is generally the quiet type, that is, until the music starts.


OfficeBLOCK, is a series of vignettes which details the corporate world, and is also a chance for the public to see the talent we have been harvesting in the form of our trainees Marlon, Christo and Sinethemba. Make no mistake, these are not actors taken because, “ag shame, they’re Deaf” but because their stage presence and physicality is enormously spectacular. This is a chance for the you, the public, to see the value of what FTH:K does, integrating the Deaf and hearing onto one stage. The trainees will perform alongside our Fleur du Cap nominee Liezl de Kock.

This piece will only grow from here and your input is wholly welcome after the show. Next year we take the piece to QuestFest where we integrate with Wings Theatre Company. Following QuestFest we will be bringing the piece to National Arts Festival, to debut on African soil.


FTH:K is an award-winning company and Ismail Mohamed, National Arts Festival Director, had this to say about FTH:K’s Herbert Dhlomo Naledi Award to Emerging Theatre Company:

“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.”