Archive for the ‘Special’ Category

Super Elred We are always going on about how lucky we are to have the family around us that we do, and that without them, FTH:K would never have been able to reach the heights it has. Well, once more we are singing this tune. Why? Because one of our most awesome Family Members is cycling 2000kms in August/September – and he’s doing it to raise money for us! You want to sponsor him…you know you do…

Elred is a Cape-Town based IT consultant with 23 year’s experience with Pick n Pay, who now runs his own company: Elred Lawrence Business Solutions. He is also one of our favourite FTH:K stories. One of his colleagues, Colin Scholtz, interviewed Tanya on what was then FreshFM – Pick n Pay’s radio station – two years ago. As a result, we invited Colin to the opening night of Pictures of You at the Baxter but at the last moment, something came up and he was unable to attend. He offered the tickets to Elred who came, watched and was instantly hooked! He says the piece was so different to anything he had ever seen that he immediately joined the FTH:K Family and has been an ardent supporter of the company ever since.

Ok. But the cycling stuff?

Well, Elred completed his first Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour in 1992, and has since finished a further fourteen. The idea of cycling a long-distance route came to him in 2002 when he was planning his next holiday and an article about the El Camino de Santiago in Spain caught his eye. At first he thought he might walk it but was worried that it would take longer than the time he had to spare – until he read the final line of the article which said that the tour could also be completed by bike. He had cycled this famous Pilgrim Trail (about 1000kms) in 2002 and enjoyed the journey so much he was inspired to start planning for the next one. Ta-dah!

Enter FTH:K.

At our most recent AGM, we took on the issue of the recession and the challenging arts environment that currently exists in South Africa. We called on our supporters to help us find new and interesting ways of bringing in resources to make sure we can carry on doing the work you love. After the AGM, Elred approached us with the idea of using an upcoming cycle to raise money for the Company, and we loved the idea, not only because of the fundraising potential, but also because it was a great example of how we like to put the fun in fundraising. Especially because we don’t have to do the cycling! The long and the short of it is that on 24 August 2012, Elred will leave for England, to embark on the 2000km Via Francigena, an ancient pilgrim trail that was regularly walked over a thousand years ago by clerics and church officials going from Canterbury Cathedral to the Vatican in Rome to visit the Pope. It has been officially resurrected today by the various Governments whose territory it crosses and designated as a European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe. And with every kilometre he cycles, you guys can sponsor not only his pilgrimage, but also South Africa’s favourite visual theatre company!

The Route

ViaFrancigenaThe Via Francigena is not a single road but rather comprises of several possible routes that changed over the centuries as trade and pilgrimage developed and waned. Depending on the time of year, political situation, and relative popularity of the shrines of the saints along the route, travellers may have used any of three or four crossings of the Alps and the Apennines. Unlike Roman roads, the Via Francigena didn’t connect cities but relied more on abbeys.

How to support us

Either you can make a direct deposit into our account, donate through our paygate, or email us with your pledge and we will calculate your donation once he has finished the journey! How easy is that?! He will be recording his travels through his blog, including linking his Garmin tracking system and heart-rate monitor to the site, so you can get a real-time breakdown of his journey and adventures.

So what’s not to like about this?? Support a brave cyclist on a pilgrimage towards great things and at the same time, support a theatre company on a similar mission.

When we talk about turning small money into big change, we mean it!

Fleur du Cap winners - Photo by Andrew Brown As you all know, we were thrilled (and completely gobsmacked!) to receive a Fleur du Cap award for Innovation in Theatre last month. Our Artistic Director, Jayne Batzofin, and I were there simply to attend the Fleur du Cap festivities and enjoy the fabulous show that Distell puts on every year. Or so we thought! But when we saw the SASL interpreter step out onto stage, we knew something was up…

‘The Fleur du Cap Award for Innovation in Theatre was established to acknowledge and honour those who have brought exceptional originality and creativity to theatre in the Western Cape…this year the award is presented to a theatrical performance company that has all of that and then some…’

Does working in the Theatre Industry guard against the associated effects of walking onto a stage to receive a surprise award? The jelly-like limbs, the escalating thump-thump of your heart, the Kalahari-desert dry mouth, the evil little voice inside your head repeating: ‘You are going to screw this up! You are going to screw this up!!’??

Answer: No, it does not! But (somehow – who knows how) we showed those Evil Little Voices.

Although this is the most recent of a number of awards for FTH:K, this was first time that Jayne and I were receiving an award on behalf of the Company – which would have been nerve-wracking in itself. Add to this the fact that we had no inkling that we would be expected to do so, and you have a serious case of adrenalin-rush! But nerves aside, what started as an unassuming email-invitation from the Distell Foundation, ended as one of the best surprises Jayne and I (and the rest of the team) could have hoped for. Recognition for “Innovation in Theatre”. Eish. What more could a little theatre company like ours ask for? For years we have pushed for our audiences, supporters, critics to look beyond the obvious development angle of what we do, beyond the socio-political impact that our work has, and critique us on what we put onstage. Similarly, our creative team has continually pushed itself to keep refining our artistic product so that our work can compete on contemporary stages, and so that we could hear our favourite post-production audience comment more frequently: “So…were there Deaf people in that show?? Which ones were they?” Quite simply, we have fought hard to get rid of the “ag, shame” factor and be reviewed on the same grounds as any other theatre company. An award for Innovation in Theatre says that we are achieving this. Which is a rewarding in and of itself. Fast forward to champagne, camera flashes, congratulatory kisses, happy hugs, excited phone calls, international messages, and you have Jayne and I wrapped in the warm glow of shared accomplishment.

And the shared part of it is really important to us. This award is ours: collectively. As we did on the night, we share this achievement now: with Tanya and Rob; with Marlon, Christo, Sinethemba, Christine, Dee, Sherna, Merryn; with Tomri, Liezl, Lysander, Gali, Simangele, Angela, Yusrah…and and…(this page is just not big enough!)…and all the amazingly talented collaborators and individuals who have worked with us in the past; as well as our awesome FTH:K family and supporters; not forgetting our beloved funders, donors and industry partners who have jumped on this crazy ride with us!

Thank you

All of you
So, so much.

And so with this one, we join past recipients of this award that, in the words of Fleur du Cap Judge, Gillian Mitchell, ‘…attest to innovation in the performing arts which requires in equal measure ingenuity, resourcefulness and sheer old-fashioned nerve’.

Here’s to sheer old-fashioned nerve – the FTH:K way!

At a time when so much has been going on in FTH:K’s life, when we are planning tours and performances and festivals and managing national/international expansion, we were gobsmacked to receive the 2011 Fleur du Cap Award for Innovation in Theatre! Literally, (forgive the deep irony) speechless!

We are all feeling so honoured today, if not a little woozy from the celebratory champers, for being recognised as a group who has brought “exceptional originality and creativity to theatre in the Western Cape”. When presenting us with the award, Fleur du Cap judge, Gillian Mitchell, said that FTH:K has “shifted notions of inclusivity and created works of imagination and emotional empathy that have charmed and exhilarated audiences both locally and internationally.” Wow. Just…wow.

We are seriously humbled to hear that. It’s hard not to think back on the past 7 years with an element of disbelief at times like this. So often we are so involved in our juggling act, from dreaming to planning to fundraising to implementing to touring…just focussing on keeping those balls in the air, that we forget to look around and see the broader effects of what we are achieving. Has it really been 7 years?? There are times when we still feel like that little company staggering to its feet, looking around wide-eyed at the very big SA arts environment; so when things like this happen, it takes us by surprise. We almost expect to blink and realise that we misheard, that the award was actually for someone else. But it wasn’t. It was for us. And as we stop and look back at how far we have come, we are reminded of Michael Kaiser’s words that state a hard truth: not in a day; not without failure; not without discipline. But if you can stomach these things, and if, consistently, you can make good art that is well-marketed, there is no end to what you can achieve. Even for a little Deaf and hearing theatre company on the deep south of the African continent.

Arts funding in SA is always a challenge and it is important to take the time to thank those organisations who continue to put their money where their mouth is in supporting the arts. We have so few platforms in SA on which to recognise artistic success and Distell, the FDC judges, and all the various organisations that come together to make this event happen annually should be commended for doing so. Sure, some people had issues with things at this year’s ceremony. I’m sure the organisers will be happy to hear those opinions voiced in a constructive way to help them make the ceremony better or more relevant next year; but these issues shouldn’t be managed in a way that makes the winners feel dirty for having won. That’s just uncool all round.

FTH:K knows it couldn’t have done any of what it does without a host of supporters. As CEO, Ana Lemmer, said on receiving the award: “We are honoured to have received this award and are tingling with pride. In the seven years of our existence, we have embarked on an incredible journey, having had the chance to work with stellar collaborators and gained the trust of Deaf communities in the Western Cape and South Africa. None of what we have achieved would have been possible without our supporters and we take this opportunity to extend a heartfelt thank you to our sponsors, to our creative co-conspirators, to our trainees and to the Deaf communities that have accepted us into their fold”.

So, to all our supporters, from the greater FTH:K Family, from Cape Town to Grahamstown to Washington DC, we salute you! This award is for us all.

Over the last few months, we have lost three FTH:K friends. Allow us to take a moment to remember them.

 Roz van der Vyver

Roz’s life came to a tragic end, and while many will speculate on the way in which she died, we would like to remember the way in which she lived.

Our relationship with Roz goes all the way back to one of the company’s earliest success stories, GUMBO, when it made its entrance into mainstream theatre with a short season at the Baxter in 2008.  Not only was Roz there to celebrate its 100th performance, but the relationship between her and FTH:K continued through a number of other theatre-related engagements and events.  Tanya and Roz also worked together on a project which aimed to turn Bellville Civic Centre into a dedicated theatre space, a project that is on-going and remains evident of her passion and commitment to the theatre industry.  Roz was a warm-hearted, giving spirit, and to her friends and family, we wish you all the love and support through this difficult time.

Roz’s memorial will take place at the Baxter Theatrre, on Friday the 23rd September 2011, at 4pm.

 Graeme Elliot and Ian Hudson

Graeme and Ian were our founding accountants and we were shocked to hear of their passing just months of each other.  They were never too busy to answer questions, and given that we started as a fledgling arts organisation, these questions were many! They were always looking for ways to refine our systems, advise us on how best to move forward,and never looked down on us simply because we were a small arts organisation. Rather, they used our unique situations to adapt systems and structures to best suit us  as artists.

We always considered Graeme and Ian to be part of the FTH:K family for a number of reasons.  They handled some of the most sensitive information that a company has,  helped us understand how to read it and how to use it in our planning, and even attended out AGM’s!  We remain grateful for every moment they spent with us and will never forget the role they played in helping our little company find its financial feet.

Much love and support to their families and friends.