Prizes are always a tough one at any festival, artists competing against one another in an uneven race at best, but what it does best is remind us of the richness of local arts. It’s almost impossible to choose the best from the best and this is the work at only one festival of mainly one cultural group.
The winners were richly rewarded recently in Cape Town at the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival’s Kanns 2014, the results of more than 100 productions, 50 of these debut works and according to the judging panel, a particularly strong theatre year.
Two names rose above all because of the impact of their work. Jaco Bouwer’s Samsa-Masjien won him a best director award and also won the prize for most mind-shifting work.
Two of his actors, Antoinette Kellerman and Gerben Kamper also walked off with the honours as best actor and actress. Bouwer praised the text of Willem Anker and his cast and production team for their brave effort and sadly, this extraordinary production which was so richly rewarded might not be seen again because of the scale of the work and the dearth of theatres willing to take risks in the current sometimes dire landscape.
Reaping rewards very early in his career, director/playwright Christiaan Olwagen’s Dogma was a popular choice as best production and best debut play.
The Olwagen-directed Waterpas was rewarded with best comedy.
Watch out for both plays as they travel the country, especially touring to festivals.
Both directors also received a special reward for their work, Bouwer for innovation and Olwagen as a young voice.
And if nothing else, these two artists will know that their work is seen and appreciated by both critics and audiences and hopefully that will encourage them to keep pushing those boundaries, not that either of these remarkable individuals know how to do things any differently.
Named Afrikaans Onbeperk and Kuns Onbeperk awards, these extraordinary recognitions were given to a number of artists for special achievements: singer Thandi Klaassen, poet T.T. Cloete and publisher/author Koos Human for life’s work; Nataniël and Bouwer for innovation; Olwagen as an exciting young voice; Franklin Sonn for service to the KKNK; Sandra Prinsloo and Shaleen Surtie-Richards for performance; and Coenie de Villiers and Zolani Mahola for their crossover work.
This is the full list of Kanna winners, with the two directors (above) sharing in six of the 10 awards:
Best Theatre Production: Dogma
Best Comedy: Waterpas
Best actor and actress: Gerben Kamper and Antoinette Kellerman in Samsa-masjien
Best Music Production: Finding Emo
Best Classical Production: Homage for South African composers
Best director: Jaco Bouwer for Samsa-masjien
Best debut work: Dogma
Best up-and-coming actor: Slurpie Kanna for Richard September in Rondomskrik
Herrie Kanna for mind-shifting work: Samsa-masjien
Best visual art: Hannelie Taute, Rubber ever after
Honourable mentions: Ensemble work of excellent standard in both Dogma and Rondomskrik
• Diane de Beer was part of the Kanna Panel.