Posts Tagged ‘Jayne Batzofin’

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.

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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

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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

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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?”

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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!

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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.

Arts Managers need to network, they need to hustle, they need to work a room, they need to suck up their personal differences and play nice for two very important reasons.

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1. United We Stand

If the theatre industry is to grow and gain influence, it must band together to stand up against various policies that might negatively affect our work. For example: The Western Cape Education Department is clamping down on excursion procedures. We as the theatre industry have an important relationship with bringing theatre into schools. How will this affect theatre for younger audiences and what are we doing about it?

2. Work Smart

A well-networked theatre company is able to get more done with less energy. Beth Kanter has started a whole empire just telling people about the importance of the Social Network. It raises the importance of network on the online platform and the significance of collaboration. Many hands make light work doesn’t it?

Last night was the ASSITEJ South Africa annual general meeting where Heather Parr was named as the new chairperson! (ASSITEJ is the umbrella organisation for theatre aimed at children and young people.) A very big congrats to her! The ASSITEJ SA board is made up of many a theatre stalwart in South Africa with Yvette Hardie standing as the Director of ASSITEJ and stepping down as chairperson. Yvette is also the President of ASSITEJ International.

What does this mean for theatre South Africa?

It means we’re on the map, a very important intricate map of influential theatre practitioners and festival organisers worldwide within the ASSITEJ community, outside of just the Edinburgh Festival or Canadian fringe circuit. It also gives South African theatre practitioners a chance to work together to bid for the next ASSITEJ  World Congress in 2017, which would fill every theatre in Cape Town. It means developing our own work for that festival. It means international exposure for our companies. It means South African artists have a close link to the president’s office, to open up the doors to theatre festivals world wide, all 100 plus of them.

For FTH:K, represented by Jayne at the AGM, it’s an opportunity to engage with more audiences world wide, as we have found that our work, though directed at adult audiences, often resonates hugely with young people.

In these trying times, where nearly every theatre company in Cape Town is fighting the good fight for funding, there is another aspect of running a theatre company that we should also focus on, particularly as new arts managers come into the business: the building of networks around your company.

Theatre Arts Managers who think outside of their immediate industry, outside of their rehearsal process, are the ones who seem to be making headway in the field.

Let’s get more of our theatre makers on board. Let’s grow the networks and the industry.

‘OfficeBLOCK’ ends tomorrow night where we will have a braai afterwards, small and cosy and keeping us down-to-earth with the people who love and support us the most, before we take the piece off to America, to share and build it with the amazing people at Wings Theatre of Quest Visual Theatre.

So far the response has been great. Here are two reviews, by Rory Berry and Mariana Malan and if you’re not so clued up on Afrikaans, the Google Translate application gives you the jist of what Die Burger is getting at.

AnaEven though our beloved Tink couldn’t make it, she sent her words with Ana and filled the air with her spirit.

As a draft for the final piece that will be made for QuestFest (US) and National Arts Fest (SA) 2012 the piece is showing a strong foundation. For this very short run, we’ve opened ourselves right up for feedback from our audiences. We’ve made space for the patrons to comment in on our foyer display, or in private with the director after the show. The work is, at the end of the day, about the audience, so who better to give us feedback? The audiences have this week been made up of new faces, press and the backbone of FTH:K’s sanity, the FTH:K Family.

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The FTH:K family, which originally started out as actual family members, has grown to include supporters of the work, from public, the press, collaborators and contributors. We hope that in the months to come, these characters in our community will be of the American variety too. Check these family photos by our amazing publicist Christine Skinner:

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Just two more performances left! Our trainees really showing their mettle. Come see! While you’re at it try get your hands on our OfficeBLOCK’ badges, they’re selling like hot cakes!

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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…