National Arts Festival lauds Fringe winners

The National Arts Festival announced the winners of the coveted Gold and Silver 2012 Standard Bank Ovation Awards, and a slew of special awards, at a function held in Grahamstown today.

A total of one Gold and eight Silver awards were presented by Festival Director Ismail Mahomed. In addition, three “Encore” awards were made to emerging  companies the Festival wants to see return, and a new “Aha!” award was made to an artist who has created something surprising and innovative.

The Ovations Panel, made up of arts journalists and editors who attended the Festival, was again convened this year by respected arts critic Adrienne Sichel, who encouraged the Fringe artists to continue producing work that is cutting edge and fresh.

“The aim of the Standard Bank Ovation Awards is to acknowledge excellence on the Fringe,” said Festival CEO Tony Lankester. “They demonstrate the huge value there is in investing time and talent into Fringe productions.”

The only Gold award at this year’s Festival was made to Nicola Hanekom for her theatre production Hol, with Jemma Kahn being awarded a Silver for The Epicene Butcher And Other Stories For Consenting Adults and Greg Homan for directing Mike van Graan’s Brothers in Blood.

In the Dance category Vuyani Dance Theatre received a Silver award for their production Mayhem while Jori Snell was awarded a Silver for Kitchen Fables in a Cookie Jar, in the Family Theatre category.

Two winners of 2011 Ovation awards were re-awarded prizes this year. Stuart Lightbody received a Silver for Dark Imaginings as did guitarist Guy Buttery for his collaboration with Nibs van der Spuy in the Music category. A second Music Silver was awarded to The Muffinz.

The final award was made to comedian David Kibuuka, who was given a Silver award in the “Comedy & Variety” category.

Encore awards are presented to individuals or productions that have made a noteworthy contribution towards the Festival Fringe in various capacities, or who have shown significant potential. Three encores were named – Galeshewe Theatre Organisation for Goon; The Runaway Bunny Collective for Wintersweet; and the Keiskamma Music Academy. Gavin Kraston was given an “Aha!” award for The Satirical Fruit Salad.

Playwright and activist, Mike van Graan, was given the Standing Ovation Award for his sustained contribution to the Festival over the years.

A variety of productions were invited by members of the World Fringe Alliance to tour their work to other Fringe Festivals as a result of their Grahamstown successes. Follow Spot Productions were given a $5000 travel grant by Fringe World Perth to tour Australia in 2013, and a variety of productions have been invited to present their work New York, Amsterdam, Brighton, Prague, Perth and Adelaide, subject to a fundraising effort to cover costs of flights for the companies.

The full list of Ovation Award winners for 2012 include:

Big Girl (Juliet Jenkin); Brothers in Blood (Artscape); Circle (Maserumele Productions); Dark Imaginings (Stuart Lightbody with Follow Spot Productions); David wasn’t built in a day (Podium…the Comedy Merchants); Face the Music (Follow Spot Productions); Ghetto Bang (Emonti Arts Company); Guy Buttery; Hol (Artscape); Ithemba-Tattu (K-Cap); Just Business/Net Besigheid (Artscape); Keepsake Minus 3 (Nicola Elliott and Underground Dance Theatre); Kitchen Fables in a Cookie Jar (Baba Yaga Theatre); Lord Hamlet (Clayton Boyd); Mayhem (Vuyani Dance Theatre); Nate Maingard; Nibs van der Spuy and Guy Buttery; Okuya Phantsi Kwempumlo/The Meal (Mamela Nyamza); One Woman Farce (Theatreshop Productions); Pants on Fire (Rob van Vuuren and Martin Evans); Puppet Asylum (Podium&he llip;the Comedy Merchants); Seashells (Artscape); Signatures (Moving into Dance Mophatong); The Epicene Butcher and other stories for consenting adults; The Muffinz.

All Ovation winners will be invited to submit a proposal to perform on the 2013 Arena Festival.

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