Awards are always a controversial thing, simply because everyone has their own thoughts about who should win what and by this very nature, some of your favourites will be missing on the night.
The big surprise this year, however, is the time it has taken some productions to make their way to the Joburg stages, and many of them were richly rewarded.
Hayani was first performed when the two actors were still studying and it made a big splash at Grahamstown in 2009 before it had a short run at the Wits Theatre with its big Joburg run last year. Ellen Pakkies has been touring the country and festivals starting in 2011. Even Mies Julie took a long, walk to Gauteng, which on one hand means that at least, slowly but surely, the best work makes their way to our stages, but on the other, does that take away from plays that might have more immediate things to say?
Afrikaans theatre is again starting to show face in Gauteng – where it had completely disappeared off the radar – with an empowering performance by Vinette Ebrahim as Ellen Pakkies and the glorious ensemble of Balbesit given the nod. Surprisingly, Sunset Boulevard was rewarded for its look and style, rather than performances, music or direction with Blood Brothers’ Bianca le Grange pipping Angela Killian to the post and the Jersey Boys a more popular choice for the big awards. Two of last year’s weightier shows, Nongogo and The Mountaintop (apart from Desmond Dube’s supporting reward) were mostly ignored.
It’s glorious though, that theatre, in all its vibrant colour, is celebrated and feted, and with some special awards going to deserving artists like Lizz Meiring and Mbongeni Ngema, the stage gods must be smiling.
2013 NALEDI THEATRE AWARD WINNERS:
Best Costumes: Penny Simpson: Sunset Boulevard
Best Set: Denis Hutchinson: Sunset Boulevard
Best Lighting: Denis Hutchinson: Sunset Boulevard
Best Production for Young Audiences: Secret Garden: National Childrens’ Theatre
Best Community Theatre Ishashalazi Award: Nomzamo: directed by Gcebili Dlamini for Hillbrow Theatre Project
Best Newcomer/Breakthrough (Brett Goldin Award): Khayalethu Anthony: Solomon and Marion
Best Score/ARR/Adapt: Alistair Izobell & David Kramer: Blood Brothers
Best Musical Director: Bryan Schimmel and Rowan Bakker: Jersey Boys
Best Ensemble/Cutting Edge: Balbesit: State Theatre
Best Supporting Actress in a Play/ Musical: Nondumiso Tembe: Race
Best Supporting Actor in a Play/ Musical: Desmond Dube: Nongogo
Best Director: Yael Farber: Mies Julie
Best Performance in a Musical (Female): Bianca la Grange: Blood Brothers
Best Performance in a Musical (Male): Grant Almirall: Jersey Boys
Best Performance in a Play in a Leading Role (Female): Vinette Ebrahim: My Naam/Name is Ellen Pakkies
Best Performance in a Play in a Leading Role (Male): Bongile Mantsai: Mies Julie
Best New SA Script: Hayani: written and directed by Atandwa Kani and Nat Ramabulana
Best Production of a Play: Mies Julie: written and directed by Yael Farber
Best Production of a Musical: Jersey Boys: produced by Showtime International
Sophie Mgcina Best New Emerging Voice Award: Lulu Mlangeni – dancer/ choreographer
Executive Director’s Award: Lizz Meiring
Lifetime Achievement Award: Mbongeni Ngema