Although the Fleur du Cap Award are in their 52nd year not everyone is sure about who qualifies and who judges them. Tracey Saunders spoke to Melanie Burke who is the hot seat for a 5th time.
Burke is an independent change consultant with a background in Banking, Product Development, Marketing, Innovation and Information Technology and a great passion for the Arts!
What are the Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards? It is an annual celebration and recognition of excellence in live scripted professional theatre, in Cape Town and surrounds. I have been at the helm of the process for the last 5 award ceremonies. The awards are hosted alternatively by the Baxter and the Artscape Theatres. The 52nd Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards will be held at the Artscape Theatre.
What are the criteria for the awards and which venues do the panel visit? Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards considers all mainstream professional theatre productions between 1 January-31 December annually in agreed venues in and around Cape Town and Stellenbosch, but given the dynamic theatre landscape additional ad hoc venues may be included from time to time. Venues considered in recent years are Alexander Upstairs, Artscape Theatre Centre (all venues), Barnyard Theatres, Baxter Theatre (all venues), Drostdy Theatre, Fugard Theatre, Galloway Theatre, HB Thom Theatre, Kalk Bay Theatre, Magnet Theatre, Maynardville, Oude Libertas Amphitheatre, Rosebank Theatre, Theatre Arts Admin Collective, Theatre on the Bay and UCT (all venues).
What constitutes a run? Professional theatre productions with a run of at least eight performances over a period that is not longer than three weeks at the same venue are eligible. After consideration of feedback from the industry the criteria have been amended in the last few years. The requisite length of the run was considerably longer but it was agreed that if the 8 performances happen in a shorter period, that the production still qualifies. For example, a production could open on Tuesday and run every night until the following Tuesday and it may be eligible. Add a matinee performance and you are home free.
Are performances at festivals and revivals considered? The Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards exclude productions staged only as part of festivals. If they are staged in terms of the criteria, they will be eligible. The length of the run is a key criterion that must be met. A period of no less than five years must elapse for a revival to be reconsidered in any given year. Revivals may also be considered if there is a significant change which includes: change of language; a new director; or a 50% change in the cast.
Are community and amateur productions eligible? At this stage neither community nor amateur productions are considered. The winner of the Zabalaza Theatre Festival is an exception as it is staged at a professional venue and, given the length of the run, meets the other qualifying criteria.
Which genres are not considered? The Fleur du cap Theatre Awards currently excludes Dance, Ballet, Classical Pop or Contemporary Music, Stand Up Comedy, Music Tribute Shows, Karaoke, Community Outreach and Development Theatre, Amateur Dramatics and Improvisation.
Who are the judges and what is your role on the panel? I am grateful that the difficult task of adjudicating the eligible productions lies with the panel which is made up largely of local critics, journalists, writers and drama educators. As chair, I don't vote. I preside over the annual procedures that ensure the efficient functioning of the judging panel and the awards voting process. Finding panel members is quite a task because they may not be affiliated to or have an interest in any of the theatres, venues or organisations where judging takes place. Panel members may also not, for their attendance, receive any financial benefit or gifts, other than a programme and standard opening night refreshments.
Panel members are required to see at least 80% of between 80-100 productions from 1 January-31 December annually - and do so voluntarily.
In 2016 there were 86 eligible productions A (Sorta) Love Story; A Beautiful Wreckage; A Cock and Bullshit Story; A Doll's House; A Man of Good Hope; A Voice I Cannot Silence; Amathaf’ Entandabuzo; Angels on Horseback: Reloaded; Annie; Anthology - Young Bloods; Anthology: After the End; As Die Broek Pas; Big Boys The Third; Black Prophet Down; Boykie and Girlie; bRENT - A Mobile Thriller; But, The Land; Camp Carrawak; Cattle Drive; Clybourne Park; Contractions; Court; Dear Breeder; Dickens: The Master Storyteller; Die Ontelbare 48; Die Sideboard Musical; District Six Kanala; Doctor Godenstein's Man; Everyone Has It; Father Father Father; From the Heart; Hedwig and the Angry Inch; Hinterland; I Love You Sally Field; I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change; I See You; I'm Playing Your Song; In (s)kin/language; Ityala la Mawele; Joanie Galant-Hulle; Johnson Unzipped; Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat; Kaapse Jol; Karoo Moose; Kristalvlakte; Lobengula Street Hard Cover Book Club; Love At First Fight; Love Factually; Love Me Tinder - Violet Online Rebooted; Love, Sex, Fleas, and God; Mbuzeni; Murdering Agatha Christie; No fun ction alL anguage; Oh Baby, I'm a Wild One; Ou Musikant: Die Danie Bosman Storie; Over There; Pay Back the Curry!; Quartet; Santa Gamka; Sillage; Some Days; Sweeney Todd; Syria?; The Bear; The Bulawayo Boogie; The Echo of a Noise; The Emissary; The Fall; The Father; The Finklesteins are Coming to Dinner; The Girls; The Heroin Diaries; The Inconvenience of Wings; The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek; The Pitch; The Power Struggle; The Proposal; The White Whore and the Bit Player; The Yellow Wallpaper; TIP-ex; uThando; Vacancy; Whistle Stop; White Elephant and Woza Albert.
The judging panel members for 2016 were: Africa Melane, Dr Beverley Brommert, Christine Moritz, Eugene Yiga, Johan van Lill, Lwando Scott, Marina Griebenow, Niel Roux, Peter Tromp, Steyn du Toit and Tracey Saunders.
The judging panel members for 2017 are: Africa Melane, Dr Beverley Brommert, Eugene Yiga, Fundi Zwane, Johan van Lill, Lwando Scott, Marina Griebenow, Maurice Capede, Niel Roux, Peter Tromp, Steyn du Toit, Tracey Saunders and Wayne Muller.
What do winners of the Fleur Cap Theatre Award receive? Each winner receives a cash prize, which is currently R15 000 and with the exception of the student award, an engraved medal.
When is the awards ceremony and who attends? This year the awards ceremony takes place on 19 March. Invitations are extended to nominees, theatres and sponsors. There are limited tickets available and juggling the invitations is always a challenge. A small number of tickets are available on Computicket.
Tracey Saunders is an arts journalist and a member of the Fleur Du Cap Panel.Tracey Saunders
071 892 5094