Posts Tagged ‘Tanya Surtees’

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.


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


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,!)

6. Finding the perfect nickname for Gali


Nuff said.

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

384784_10150154181621140_657116139_8661180_638869473_n (1)

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.

197330_10150154182606140_657116139_8661186_6839818_n (1)

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?”


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!

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.

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…

In a session with Michael yesterday, we were talking about artistic programming and the current state of the arts in the States.  Of course we were.  These are two of his favourite topics.  It’s hard to pick out the “important” points that he makes when he talks because a) they all feed into each other in a most frustratingly symbiotic way, and b) he’s just so damn knowledgeable!!  Anyway, one of the things he said was that many smaller arts organisations are responding to current tough times in the US by reverting to more conservative artistic programming.  Stuff that audiences know and trust.  He sees this as problematic for a number of reasons, one of them being that a smaller organisation putting on Cats is generally not going to be able to compete with a larger organisation putting on the same (kind of) show.  Also, if an experimental theatre group decides to put on a more traditional piece in order to get more bums on seats, chances are they won’t do a particularly good job of it because that’s not what they specialise in.  Let alone the fact that they will disappoint their regular crowd, potentially resulting in even smaller houses.

Makes sense so far.

Then we moved onto a Marketing session with David who was taking us through the year that the Kennedy Center has had since us Summer Fellows were last here, and he noted that at the moment, US ticket-buying seems to be such: people know what they want to see and will only go and see that.  So some shows are doing exceptionally well, while others are doing really badly.  The in-between buyer, the one who is not 100% percent sure that they will enjoy a certain show but buy a ticket anyway, is hibernating.  So tickets are selling for the “sure thing” not the “maybe”. 


At first glance, these two comments seem to be contradictory.  On one hand, we are being encouraged not to go for more conservative programming while on the other hand, we are being told that the shows that are selling are the “sure thing”.  (Add to this the fact that FTH:K‘s most recent piece, QUACK!, has to be one of our most experimental yet!) 

So I  mull over this apparent contradiction, trying to work out how these points co-exist and where FTH:K falls into it all.  And I have a moment of clarity.  (Yes, imagine that.)  I realise that Michael is not saying that we should all be making crazy-ass work that explores the inner psychology of chewing gum and that no one understands.  He’s just saying: stand out!  Of all the times to be noticed,  it’s now: when the pie is smaller but the number of people wanting a piece of it hasn’t reduced any.  He’s saying, be noticeably sexier than the rest of the organisations competing for your audience members (and funders).  And David, in his infinite wisdom, is chiming in saying, be the sure thing!  Be the organisation that people know they will have a good experience with, be it conservative or experimental.  There’s an audience for everything, after all.  Just make sure that when your audience is deciding on which piece of conservative/experimental theatre to see tonight, you’re the obvious choice.

When I grow up, I want to be Michael Kitto-Mattson.

Ok, a little dramatic but hey, this is theatre we’re talking about.  And theatre in a tough economic environment, no less.  Doesn’t get much more dramatic than that, does it?!

Kennedy Center

This is Tanya here writing on behalf of FTH:K as I begin the second instalment of my Kennedy Center training.  As I assume you know, I am FTH:K’s Company Manager and was lucky enough to be selected as 1 of 2 South Africans to participate in a 3-year International Summer Fellowship programme at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (KC) from 2008 – 2010.  Lucky?  Ooooh, yes.  If you know FTH:K, and if you have noticed developments in the past year in the way that we are doing things, then you will ultimately have noticed the effect this Fellowship is having on the Company.  If you have only just found out about FTH:K, there’s a good chance that this Programme at the KC is the reason why.  If you have never heard of FTH:K and aren’t actually sure of how you got to this blog, I can’t help you.  Sorry.

Yesterday and today (Day 1 & 2 of the Fellowship) have largely been about orientation and set-up: getting our security badges (the KC is a national monument, after all), being allocated work stations, getting KC internet profiles, remembering where everything is in the KC, and then – the most exciting part – being allocated mentors for our projects.  Last year we attended classes and sessions throughout the 4-week programme, led largely by The Big Three: Michael Kaiser, David Kitto and Marie Mattson and their respective teams.  This year, we were asked to bring 3 projects on which we would like to work while at the KC as we’ll be working alone a lot more, but with the luxury of having access to the wealth of resources at the KC.  We won’t have many formal sessions (bar a few with The Big Three) but will have 3 weeks to be mentored through specific projects.  It’s an awesome opportunity to be able to implement ideas while receiving daily advice and guidance on the ideas we’re implementing.  It’s great great great.  I have been very vocal about what an opportunity this  Fellowship is for any Arts Manager but just in case you missed it, watch this space for the next call for applications and then APPLY!!

Given that The Big Three doesn’t have the time to meet with 18 fellows every day, we have all been assigned mentors according to the project information that we submitted some time back and I am thrilled to have been placed with Dan (the Man) who is going to be helping me devise a Fundraising Calendar that brings together the work of our Development Committee, our Membership Programme and our Artistic Programming.  I’m busy getting information together to send to Dan (the Man) so that we can start working so I don’t have much to tell you about the project itself just yet.  However I’ll be keeping you posted on (hopefully) a daily basis on what I’m doing and how the project is going. 

Until then, as the new Arts Analyst (is that what the official title is, Michael?) for the Huffington Post, this what Michael Kaiser has to say about the current state of the arts in the US.  Sure, he’s talking specifically about arts in the US but I think what he touches on is something that all arts organisations can learn something from in these troubled times.

That’s it from DC for now.  Over and out!

Indeed.  It is possible.

For the next 2 weeks, the FTH:K blog is going to appear to be a little schizophrenic.  Why?  Because the Company is in two different (and equally important) places right now, proving once more that we can multi-task like the best of them.  The Artistic Team, including our Deaf Scholar-Trainees, is at the National Arts Festival getting ready to present both QUACK! and Pictures of You, while FTH:K’s Company Manager is in Washington DC beginning the second phase of her three-year International Summer Fellowship initiated by Kennedy Center Director, Michael Kaiser.  This means that there will be posts from both Grahamstown, South Africa, and Washington DC, USA being uploaded to this blog at varying intervals.  And I guess it may as well be said that if the post deals with the National Arts Festival, you can be sure that the author is FTH:K’s Artistic Director, Rob Murray; while if it is about the Kennedy Center programme, it is FTH:K’s Company Manager, Tanya Surtees, who is at the keyboard.

There.  That should help a little.

A snapshot journey of Day 2 in Buenos Aires…

And while you’re about it, check out these first impressions of Buenos Aires:

TANYA SURTEES – GUMBO Director and FTH:K Company Manager

ROB MURRAY – GUMBO Performer and FTH:K Artistic Director
LYSANDER BARENDS – GUMBO Performer and FTH:K Company Member
LIEZL DE KOCK – GUMBO Performer and FTH:K Company Member
MARLON SNYDERS – GUMBO Performer and FTH:K Third-Year Trainee
NIKKI FRONEMAN – Proyecto 34°S Festival Director
LYNN MAREE – Director of “Living in Strange Lands”; MARK FLEISHMAN – Director of “Every Year, Every Day, I Am Walking”
RENOS SPANOUDES – Performer in “Living in Strange Lands”
CRAIG LEO – Production Manager for “Every Year, Every Day, I Am Walking”

And that’s it for the end of Day 2 in Buenos Aires.  Time to sleep and try catch up with the crazy time shift between continents…see you tomorrow!