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!

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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.

You know us, you love us, you want to get involved in what we do. Well, now’s your chance!

In preparation for the stonkingly busy year ahead, we have already signed on new performers, new Stage Managers, new Tour Managers, and now it’s time to bring in some new office-faces. We are looking for a part-time Admin. Assistant to work alongside the CEO in the fulfilment of her administrative duties. The contract is initially until the end of 2012 but has the potential of both renewal and conversion to full-time employment in 2013.

Check the official blurb here:

Admin. Assistant

FTH:K is looking for an Admin. Assistant to fill a 1-year, part-time contract with long-term/full-time possibilities. Employment to start 1st March 2012. Salary: R4000. Hours: flexible.

Job Summary:

  • Provide support to the CEO in the execution of her duties
  • Provide administrative support to the Artistic Director (where required)


Reporting Relationships:

  • Report to the CEO


Key Duties & Responsibilities
:

  • Basic administrative and operational support of office activities
  • Managing calls and messaging
  • Minute-taking, typing and filing
  • Support in micromanagement of functions, meetings and special projects
  • Effective contact point for all collaborators, clients, contacts, staff members, Board members and general public
  • Research and sourcing of information where requested

Requirements:

  • Bilingual (English/Afrikaans/isiXhosa with preference)
  • Good command of the English language
  • Strong computer literacy: MS Word, Excel, Internet, Email
  • Grade 12 and or relevant administrative qualification
  • Good time-management
  • Reliability and consistency
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Organised and systematic approach to work
  • Discretion with sensitive material
  • Task-orientation and self-motivation
  • Detail-orientated work ethic
  • Ability to work as part of a team

Please send a short motivation with an updated CV (including the details for two references) to ana@fthk.co.za or 142 Lower Main Road, Observatory, Cape Town, 7925 by 22 February 2012. Contact Ana at 021 – 448 2838 for more information.

So. Wanna join the family??

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!

FTH:K AUDITIONS

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: www.fthk.co.za
  • 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: jayne@fthk.co.za

KEY DATES:

  • 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

SYNOPSIS:

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.

CHARACTER BIO:

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.

SPECIAL NOTES:

  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

INTERESTED?

Please send a CV and a current photo to Jayne Batzofin at jayne@fthk.co.za 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

It’s the little things that count. These are the things that make us family, and in the words of Tink, “If we don’t laugh at ourselves, someone else will.”

10. Our resident Rocky.

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Christo ran all the way up these stairs of the Lincoln Memorial doing the Rocky. How could you resist?

9. A Muslim falls off a chair.

kneeling chair

Do not, at any point try to sit on the bottom part of this chair and then attempt to make yourself more comfortable: You will slip and fall on your arse, as our online manager found out one day.

8.  A Cold Shower at Midnight

Trailer

Just before leaving Grahamstown, Tanya, Angela and Ana got a nasty wake-up call. They were pulling the trailer towards the back of the van and as they put it down to fix it onto the ball hitch, the rain water which had been sitting on the top of the trailer after a very wet season at the festival came rushing forward and splashing down on them!

7. Channelling Napolean

Rob Napolean

Having broken his collar-bone Ugli was to direct Benchmarks with just one arm, and in so doing, became a very tall version of Napolean. Needless to say, the cast wasted no time in outvoting him at every chance by calling: “All in favour raise your right hand.” (See the picture with Ugli on the far right, just..trying..to..play..with!)

6. Finding the perfect nickname for Gali

GaliBarbie

Nuff said.

5. That time ‘Sober-Dan’ nicked the mirror on the hired car.

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So we’re leaving the Naledi’s, pretty smashed after going through the whole ceremony thinking that we were nominated for all these awards and travelled all the way to JHB, to win nothing, when right at the very end, they announce a brand new category for Best Emerging Company, which we win. At this point the highs and lows are swallowed with a lot of spirit-s, making most of us incapable of driving. When we finally left, our designated driver, our sober Dan, our most capable and responsible member of our team at the time, got behind the wheel and slowly reversed the hired-car’s side mirror straight into a pole.

4. One breezy night, a 6-foot tall man changed a tyre in a kilt.

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To add to the car woes of the Naledi night, the car also had a slow puncture and needed a tyre change. Who better than a 6-foot tall, strong man, in a kilt?

3. “Does André have an accent?”

andre

Tink: Angela, does Andre have an accent?

Angela: Well, he is Afrikaans.

2. “It’s a Blowjob Tart”

Tanya brought milk tart to the Pot Luck in DC. When asked what it was, she signed “Milk Tart”. The South African sign for “milk” is the same as the American sign for “blowjob”. Blowjob Tart – a traditional South African dessert.

1. When Rodney from Benchmarks spent a little too much time in the park.

For the opening of Out the Box Festival, a puppet procession was organised to walk through Obz and finish on the Village Green, i.e. the park opposite Spar where the bergies take lunch. That was where Rodney ran into the Queen of Obz who fell head over heels for him and tried to bag her prince. The video is priceless and so worth the bandwidth. Watch how Daniel who plays Rodney goes to find his real wife for safety!

What would theatre be if we didn’t have to constantly remind ourselves that the show must go on, battered, bruised or blind. Here are some of the things which kept us very much on our toes.

1. The Fire Extinguisher Which Wouldn’t

During a performance of Benchmarks at the National Arts Festival, the policeman came out with a fire extinguisher to put out flames, only the pin had not been released, and seconds before the cue, the problem could not be understood, leaving the masked-performer to enter onto stage wildly mimicking a working fire extinguisher.

2. “Turn your flipping phone off! What? Oh…”

During Pictures of You an obtrusive cellphone went off and before the director could evil-eye the alleged perpetrator in the audience, he recognised the ringtone and realised the sound was coming from backstage…

3. Flip Fail

Christo normally completes an impressive back-flip in Shortcuts, except for that one time in America, where he fell on his head, before dusting himself off and carrying on.  Fortunately, his ego was more bruised than anything else.

4. “That bandage was not just part of the show”

Thumeka performed in Benchmarks with an incredibly sprained wrist but  soldiered on through the cold weather in Grahamstown.

5. Tanya Heywood: The Super Sub.

It was just not Thumeka’s year; just before the run of Benchmarks at Out the Box, she was in a car accident which left her on crutches. Instead of pulling the show, Tanya Heywood was called in to replace Thumeka and learned the piece in less than a week. The show went on to win the Handspring Puppetry Award for Best Puppet Manipulation.

Try that for awesome.

6. Blindman’s Bluff

Despite being amazing mask design, the masks for Benchmarks proved to be very difficult to see through, and when Rob’s lighting design was brought into play, the actors were sometimes walking blindly through the set.

And that, boys and girls, is why rehearsals are so important.