BWW Special Feature: Top Ten Highlights from the Glamorous and Ebullient kykNET Fiëstas!

BWW Special Feature: Top Ten Highlights from the Glamorous and Ebullient kykNET Fiëstas!
The kykNET Fiëstas were a suitably extravagant
affair, celebrating the best Afrikaans theatre,
music and visual art on the festival circuit.

The kykNET Fiëstas were presented at an ebullient ceremony at the Artscape Theatre Center on Thursday night. Broadcast live on kykNET, the evening was a suitably extravagant affair that honoured the best in Afrikaans theatre, classical music and visual arts.

The event was broadcast live on the satellite television channel for which the awards are named. Here is a countdown of my top ten highlights of the event, which was coordinated on stage by Ian Von Memerty, with musical direction by Janine Neethling and stage direction from Wolf Britz, Amy Jephta, Nico Scheepers and Steven van Wyk.

10. HUNKERING NA DIE SES Winning Best Music-driven Production (Podium)
Last year was the fiftieth anniversary of District Six being declared a whites-only area by South Africa's apartheid government. Along with DISTRICT SIX - KANALA at The Fugard Theatre, HUNKERING NA DIE SES - 'N MUSIKALE REIS took a look back at the history of that area and what its place is in contemporary South African society. It was pleasing to see a piece such a relevant musical piece recognised, not only for the talented trio of Lynelle Kenned, Clint Lesch and Albert Combrink who brought the show to life but also for its timeliness.

9. Mynie Grove's Recognition as a Musical Theatre Composer

BWW Special Feature: Top Ten Highlights from the Glamorous and Ebullient kykNET Fiëstas!
Mynie Grové, who composed the
music for HEIDI, which won Best
Music-driven Production (Theatre)
at the Fiëstas this year.

A new musical adaptation of the classic children's story, HEIDI, won the awards for Best Theatre Design (Francois Toerien and Kosie Smit) and Best Music-driven Production (Theatre). During the thanks for the latter award, Mynie Grové's score for the production was praised by her collaborators. When they suggested that Grové still had many great musical theatre scores within her, she humbly stepped forward to offer thanks for being able to work on a project that clearly meant a great deal to her. I, like them, cannot wait to see what she has to offer audiences next.

8. The Awards Night Performances

The Fiëstas certainly delivered when it came to providing stunning entertainment both in the foyer and as a part of the event itself. Before the show, there were all kinds of intriguing pre-show performances, including several musicians and a group of men who passed both a real and an imaginary oversized pearl in the two hours of mingling that preceded the ceremony. The opening and closing of both halves of the event were super-spectacular production numbers, featuring Arno Carstens, Corlea Botha and Thembeka Mnguni orating and singing with the Tygerberg Children's Choir as a troupe of dancers choreographed by Celeste Botha swirled around them. From the first moments of the "Kinders van die wind"-"Fantasie"-"Thula" medley to the final seconds of "Miljoene druppels", the audience was spellbound.

7. Acáma Fick's Award for her Lifetime Contribution to Music

World-class choral director, Acáma Fick, was awarded for her life's work as a musician and musicologist. Known for being the first woman to be appointed as the conductor of the University of Stellebosch Choir, she also founded the Stellensbosch Camarata. These achievements are incredible, and this groundbreaking, trailblazing woman has a heart that sings.

BWW Special Feature: Top Ten Highlights from the Glamorous and Ebullient kykNET Fiëstas!
Fiëstas guest presenter Albert Pretorius (front left)
with the starry cast of DIE SEEMEEU, which he
mentioned in an anecdote at the awards.

6. The Presenters

All of the presenters that appeared on stage had something to offer to the proceedings, although there were some standouts appearances amongst them. Denise Newman, the stage veteran of SISTER BREYANI, BUCKINGHAM PALACE, DISTRICT SIX and many other productions who delivered a searing performance on film in SHIRLEY ADAMS - was just magnificent, taking control of the stage like any great star should. SURVIVOR SOUTH AFRICA: MALASIA star, Irshaad Ally, shared some of his well-known reinvention story. Haveing his life around after a difficult time with drugs, he has become an incredibly popular television personality and actor on shows like PASELLA and SUIDOOSTER. On the lighter side, Albert Pretorius - who shared backstage memories of his appearances in BALBESIT, DIE SEEMEEU and HOND SE GEDAGTE - revisited his iconic "sexy" pose, with the Fiëstas host, Johrné van Huyssteen, joining him on the floor for a few jolly minutes.

5. Nico Scheepers's Acceptance Speech

ROOIVALK's first win of the evening was Richard September's win for Best Solo Performance, with the production itself cracking the nod as both Best Newly Created Theatre Production and Best Production. Nico Scheepers, the writer-director of the piece, reminded the entire audience of what it is like to make theatre on a shoestring budget, rehearsing a show in one's lounge before opening night and finding the most affordable ways to design a thing of beauty that will be a joy forever - at least in the audience's memory, given the ephemeral nature of theatre. His final words, a reminder that love conquers all, were the cherry on top.

BWW Special Feature: Top Ten Highlights from the Glamorous and Ebullient kykNET Fiëstas!
Ilse Klink as she appeared on the
poster for KRISTALVLAKTE, for which
she won the Best Actress Fiësta.

4. Ilse Klink's Acceptance Speech

Ilse Klink, the recipient of the Best Actress award for her performance in KRISTALVLAKTE, joined the ranks of actresses that use the platform that an awards ceremony provides to highlight a major social issue. Klink implored the audience to stop ignoring the plight of gangsterism on the Cape Flats, highlighting, in particular, the lives of children that are lost in what many consider to be out-and-out warfare -a comparison to which KRISTALVLAKTE, Amy Jephta's adaptation of Bertolt Brecht's anti-war play, MUTTER COURAGE UND IHRE KINDER. And she's right - by remaining bystanders in this fight, we are complicit in its perpetuation.

3. Stefan Erasmus's Win for AS

Stefan Erasmus delivered a deeply moving performance in the English version of this play, AHES, which first appeared on South African stages in 2014 before being revised by its playwright, Philip Rademeyer, and then translated for its Afrikaans premiere at the US Woordfees last year. As Erasmus humbly accepted his award for Best Actor, I was reminded of the importance of this play in exposing the effects of systemic homophobia in South Africa and how Erasmus's performance in it contributed in no small measure to the success of even the earliest version of this contemporary South African theatre piece.

2. Performances from Nominated Shows

It was absolutely fantastic to see extracts from some of the nominated shows punctuating the awards. It was even better to see that the extracts had been selected carefully, so as to capture the spirit of the pieces. Particular highlights were the performances from HEIDI, featuring Karlie Heine and Ilse Klink, and PA, featuring Chris van Niekerk, Roeline Daneel and Milan Murray. The former showcased a touching number from the original score created for the production by Mynie Grové, Francois Toerien en Esther von Waltsleben, while the latter showcased Elouise du Toit en Naòmi Morgan's elegant Afrikaans translation of Florian Zeller's LE PÈRE, which was presented in Christopher Hampton's English translation as THE FATHER at the Fugard Theatre last year.

BWW Special Feature: Top Ten Highlights from the Glamorous and Ebullient kykNET Fiëstas!
Stefan Erasmus in ASHES, the
English version of AS, for which he
won the Best Actor Fiësta.
Photo credit: Amanda

1. Ton Vosloo's Lifetime Achievement Award for Arts Philanthropy

When he made his speech accepting his award for Lifetime Achievement as Arts Philanthropist, Ton Vosloo revealed himself to be - as many people already knew - a man of deep integrity. Having been a journalist for some three decades as well as an editor and media manager, notably at Naspers, he also made time to support the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra and the World Wildlife Fund in their efforts. Vosloo also has a passion for the promotion of Afrikaans, working to keep the language relevant both commercially and culturally. As he made his way off the stage, one knew: this is one of the good guys.

Other winners on the night included Marthinus Basson (Best Director for DIE GANGSTERS), Alvon Collison (Lifetime Contribution to Musical Theatre), Erik Dippenaar and Stefan Temmigh (Best Achievement in Classical Music for CORELLI EN CO.), Charl du Plessis (Best Music Production (Arena) for BOOGIE WOOGIE BIG BAND, Alex Hamilton (Best Achievement in Visual Arts for his curation of the visual arts programme at US Woordfees), Nicole Holm (Best Supporting Actress for IN INGENADE), Faith Kinniar (Best Emerging Artist for VALENCIA) and Dawid Minnaar (Best Supporting Actor for DIE HUIS VAN BERNARDA ALBA). Innibos won the award for Best Festival, while the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival's "Uitkamp Teater" initiative won the special Blue Chair Award.

Sponsored by KykNET, Die Dagbreek Trust and DuToitskloof Wines, the Fiëstas were an unqualified success. The 2016 panel consisted of Naudé van der Merwe (convener), Amelda Brand, Angelo Mockie, Felicia Lesch, Herman Lategan, Ilza Roggebrand, Johan van Lill, Kabous Meiring, Kurt Haupt, Steyn du Toit and Wayne Muller. Van Lill will convene the panel in 2017, with Diane de Beer, Leonore Bredekamp, Neil Roux and Wessel Snyman taking the places of Van der Merwe, Bran, Meiring and Muller. Here's to another great year of Afrikaans theatre at festivals nationwide!

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