Posts Tagged ‘Rob Murray’

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?”

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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.

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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.”

I read a blog post the other day commenting on the struggle to successfully market theatre productions by theatre some theatre makers in Cape Town. The solution to this problem would be to let theatre-makers make theatre, and let arts managers do the rest.

In the Cape Town theatre industry, and this probably echoes worldwide, what theatre productions need, are arts managers. An arts manager is a company director, the person who runs the production like a business. An arts manager is not a producer who has input into the type of show the business must make. A producer might tend towards more commercial products and comprise the integrity of the artistic vision.  An arts manager is a master problem-solver.  An arts manager creates an environment for the artist to excel in, while putting all the business factors into place.

This is not to say that a director is incapable of doing all of it himself, but with time escaping us all the time, the director is at risk of doing a half-arsed job, resulting in poorly thought out and a half-executed marketing campaign.

The argument against having a someone else manage the business side of the work is that there is no budget for it. But then, is there ever budget for anything? Shows without budget operate on the currency of their network. Why should that network, which yields stage-managers, actors and writers hoping for a cut of the door, not also include a marketing manager / publicist who will only increase the number of bums on seats?

It doesn’t matter if you are the worlds best theatre-maker if no one knows about you.. does it?

Delegating and communicating

A healthy relationship between the creative and the manager ensures that the directors vision is in tact and the excited audiences know what they’re in for.

For FTH:K, Rob is the artistic director and is in the process of rehearsing OfficeBLOCK. Rob has been with the company for 6 years, and has done time as an arts manager. He understands what the job entails and so communicates his ideas with the company director, the publicist and online marketing manager who currently make up the arts management team.

This frees the creative team, the director, actors, stage manager and designer to focus on the development of their project while the administration, funding and management of the brand is run by the   arts management team.

Conceptually, OfficeBLOCK is about  “The beauty of invisible things”  which fires off a whole stream of ideas from the depths of the imagination. But it doesn’t tell the audience enough about the show. At least not in relationship to the name of the piece. In a meeting between the creative team and the arts management team, “Business as Usual” was chosen as the catch phrase.

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FTH:K

The cutting edge, award-winning company known for it’s non-verbal visual theatre work with pieces such as Benchmarks, QUACK!,  Pictures of You, and Womb Tide.

Presents: OfficeBLOCK

The name of the show and visual typography clues

Business as Usual

 The catch phrase to incite the question: what magic comes of a company like FTH:K exploring the office block? Find out

at the Intimate Theatre this November 15th – 19th.

Contact Angela at the Office for details.

This post is part of what the company stands for in terms of arts management. Using our current show as an example is a way of educating and marketing our show. Rings back to the old sales ABC (Always Be Closing), always be talking about your show.

It’s great that there are people out there who are tired of the poorly executed marketing campaigns out there, to them we raise our glasses, be it tequila, brandy and coke, or a cuppa tea and salute them. We, FTH:K join you in the the war against unprofessional approaches to theatre and celebrate the arrival of arts management.

OfficeBLOCK: …..business as usual…. will be performed at the Intimate Theatre in Cape Town from 15 to 19 November by the talented Tell-Tale Signs trainees Marlon Snyders, Christopher Beukes and Sinethemba Mgebisa under the direction of artistic director Rob Murray.

Joining them on stage is FTH:K’s leading performer, Liezl de Kock (Fleur du Cap Nominee for Best Female performer in Womb Tide), with set and costume design by Jayne Batzofin, and lighting design by Murray.
The work is the first phase of the ArtsBridge International Exchange piece. ArtsBridge is a collaboration with Wings Theatre Company in the USA and is the creative wing of Quest Visual Theatre. This piece will travel to Washington D.C. early next year, where it will be developed further, in collaboration with Wings for the Quest Fest in February before bringing it back to the National Arts Festival and a South African tour.

Getting the sequence right in the OfficeBLOCK rehearsal. Cape Town, South Africa, October 2011.
An Except form the Artsbridge Showcase, August 2011.

The production centres around an office clerk stuck in a dead end job. Increasingly desperate and feeling trapped, he embarks on a journey to fight for his independence and identity against a stifling corporation.

Featuring FTH:K’s signature style of non-verbal theatre, the production promises to be an intriguing blend of physical and visual performance – gritty, poignant, and absurdly comic, with more than a little touch of magical realism.  “It’s Kafka meets The Matrix and is heavily inspired by The Little Prince!”enthuses Murray.

OfficeBLOCK: …..business as usual….   will be performed at the Intimate Theatre in Cape Town from 15 to 19 November at 8pm.

This run will also be a fundraiser for the Artsbridge project. Tickets cost R30. Tuesdays is Twosdays – buy one ticket and get two.

Suit Up for Friday night’s show wearing your interpretation of a suit. Enjoy a summer bring ‘n braai on Saturday night after the show . There are also great prizes to be won.

For further information and bookings contact Angela on 021 4482838 or angela@fthk.co.za

When Thumeka broke her leg, Benchmarks won an award, bringing fresh perspective to the idiom, “Break a leg”.

(It’s not broken-broken, it’s really badly bruised and swollen because some loser drove badly, but the point is, she can’t walk on it, and in theatre, it’s as good as broken, Thumeka played the character Hope and was replaced by Tanya Heywood for the Out The Box run of Benchmarks.)

Ugli Bob, The Shadow in The Background, Jayne Centre Row on the Far left, and the rest of the Benchmarks Crew bearing their characters masks

FYI: “Break a leg” has no definite origin but what is suspected is that breaking a leg refers to breaking onto stage past the curtains that hide the wings, curtains which are known as legs.

The Handspring Awards rounded up the Out the Box Festival on Sunday the 11th of September at the Little Theatre. Handing out the awards were Janni Younge and Chuma Sopotela. Puppets, according to Handspring, are objects manipulated before an audience meaning that masks then also fall under this category.

Here’s what they awarded us:

The Best Visual Theatre Production:

  • Nominees: Benchmarks, Door, Inua
  • Winner: Inua (Adult Festival) presented by Jori Snell and the Baba Yaga Theatre is a search for the essence (the inua) of things spiritual, emotional, physical.

The Best Puppet Design:

  • Nominees: Cristina Salvoldi for Benchmarks, Hillette Stapelberg and Illka Louw for Isangqa/Sirkelpad, Gavin Younge for After Cardenio
  • Winner: Gavin Younge for After Cardenio (Adult Festival), written and directed by Jane Taylor in collaboration with Gavin Younge, Aja Marneweck and Paper Body Collective, is an imagined reworking of the historically archived “missing” play, Cardenio, one of the last pieces Shakespeare wrote.

The Best Puppet Manipulation:

Jane Taylor, Ugli Bob and the fastest hand in the world.

  • Nominees: Benchmarks, Massacre de Mueda, Sadako
  • Winner: Benchmarks (Adult Festival) presented by FTH:K is about three desperate and lonely individuals who get drawn into an unlikely relationship that will lead them on a journey of discovery, companionship, tragedy, and reconciliation.
(Taken from the Out The Box Website)

And last but not least, FTH:K aslo won a small but very important token of appreciation from the Nuwe Hoop Centre for the Hearing Impaired out in Worcester where we have been touring with workshops and shows for years.

Gali with our token of appreciation from Nuwe Hoop!

This is showbiz, and applauses like these mean we must be doing something right.

FTHK is buzzing again.

PPC wins BASA Award for their work with us!

Last night, Ana and Ugli hit the BASA Awards in Jozi where 3 of our funders were up for awards for the contributions to FTHK. As a special treat, Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler of Handspring Puppet Company presented ‘Topthorn’ of their world famous War Horse production. (Read further to get an upclose and personal look at the horse puppets of Handspring)

Adrian Kohler, Topthorn... and is that... Craig Leo ?

In the world of arts management, it’s no secret that your funders are your backbone, but far too often they don’t get the credit they deserve. It’s no longer  about just printing a logo at the bottom of your flyer: it’s about celebrating the work of the people who support you.

This year, PPC, Distell and CitiVibe were all nominated for supporting FTHK, with PPC winning the BASA Award for Increasing Accessibility to the Arts.

Picture by Rob Murray

Ana of FTHK and Franci of PPC with the Loot!

Last year, PPC sponsored our Tell-Tale Signs Tour, which gave our Deaf trainees the opportunity to tour the country, performing Tales from the Trash and conduct clowning workshops to Deaf schools around the country.

 All our funders really are the wind beneath our wings..  Thanks to them (as well as Bette Midler) we can present to you:

Benchmarks in Cape Town!

Rob Murray docks his ship at the NAF, headed for Cape Town's Out The Box Festival

For only 3 shows, Benchmarks will be performing at this years Out The Box Festival, which we’ve heard is bigger and bolder than before. More than anything, we absolutely love playing for our home-crowd, our biggest supporters.  The piece is even set in Cape Town, and if that doesn’t pay homage we’re not sure what will.

Have you yet heard about it from the horse’s mouth?

If you’re in Cape Town and want to get a full package of visual and cutting edge theatre, book a tour with CoffeebeansRoutes who will be taking groups of people to the Handspring Puppet Company workshop, where you can get a close up view of the mechanics of the puppets, followed by a meet the artist drink, and in their words, then watch one “OTB’s top shows”, Benchmarks on Thursday the 8th of September.

We, as FTHK, are so grateful for all the support we receive, from our funder friends to and our loyal family members. You guys make this all possible.

Come see us, Benchmarks and a conspiracy of clowns’s Kardiavale at the festival.. and as per usual… book at Computicket!

Dates for FTHK’s Benchmarks at Hiddingh Campus

  • Thursday 8 September: 17:00 and 20:00
  • Friday 9 September: 11:00

Dates for a conspiracy of clowns’ Kardiavale at Hiddingh Campus

  • Monday 5 September: 18:00 and 21:30
  • Tuesday 6 September: 11:00
Visit FTHK online for anything else you might like to know.