Rob Van Vuuren, National Children’s Theatre win big at Standard Bank Ovations Awards

Rob Van Vuuren in Namaste Bae: Blessings and Kombucha. Picture: Instagram

Rob Van Vuuren in Namaste Bae: Blessings and Kombucha. Picture: Instagram

Published Jul 5, 2023


The Standard Bank Ovations Awards were held at the 1820's Settler's National Monument in Makhanda as part of the National Arts Festival, on Saturday, July 1.

These awards are specifically focused on the uncurated Fringe component of the Festival, where artists from various genres, languages, and subjects can showcase their work.

The Fringe also serves as a platform for schools, universities and colleges to debut their productions.

The winners of this year's Standard Bank Ovation Awards included veteran South African comedian, theatremaker, and writer Rob van Vuuren, who received a Gold Ovation for his viral sensation "Namaste Bae: Blessings and Kombucha."

Theatresmiths, a collaborative group of theatre makers, won a Gold Ovation for "The King of Broken Things" and a Silver for their children's show "The Great Big Enormous Turnip".

Fringe newcomer Pichi Keane and the children's play "The Red Balloon" presented by the National Children's Theatre both received Silver Standard Bank Ovation Awards.

Several other productions were also recognised with Bronze Standard Bank Ovations, including "Stirling High School's Missing", "Pen(t)s Down HaHa!" by Rhodes University Drama Department, "Dear Tata: What Makes Man" by Sonwa Sakuba Institute for the Performing Arts, "A Vegan Killed My Marriage" by MacBob Productions from Durban, and "As You Like It" by Baked Shakespeare.

Productions such as "Ashes to Ashes", "The Stories We See" and "Wilderness" also received Bronze Ovations.

The Makhanda-based choir Kwantu and Land of Nonesi, which brought an Eastern Cape flavour, were honoured with Bronze Ovation award.

The Standard Bank Standing Ovation Award ceremony was held at the 1820's Settler's National Monument, Makhanda, on July 1. Picture: Mark Wessels.

The National Arts Festival Fringe manager, Zikhona Monaheng, commended the winners for their exceptional productions and hard work.

“Every year Fringe artists risk it all, putting hours into creating work and raising the money to bring their shows to the stage at the National Arts Festival,” said Monaheng.

“Winning a Standard Bank Ovation Award is an affirmation that this hard work has paid off. It is also an endorsement that resonates with theatres and Festivals both in SA and abroad as many of our Ovation winners go on to tour their productions.

“We also welcome those winners back year after year, with new work and old favourites. Some previous Ovation winners even go on to become Standard Bank Young Artists, as we have seen with this year's cohort.”

The Standard Bank Ovation Awards are determined by a panel of anonymous reviewers who assess the shows on the Fringe throughout the festival.

These awards have been instrumental in supporting and promoting the careers of many artists since it launched in 2010.

Standard Bank's head of Sponsorships Desiree Pooe emphasised the importance of the awards in showcasing South African talent.

“These awards, which were introduced in 2010, have helped many artists’ careers flourish, and so we hope that those being recognised this evening will contribute to bringing attention to the depth of South African talent,” said Pooe.

“These Awards have become an important indicator for the public in determining the best from the Fringe line-up. Congratulations to all the 2023 Standard Bank Ovation Awards winners.

You have all worked hard for this, and now your commitment and dedication to the arts have paid off. Each of you is celebrated."

The Fringe itself accounted for more than 59% of ticket sales this year, indicating a resurgence of the arts post-Covid-19.

The panel of judges for this year’s Standard Bank Ovation Awards included Alby Michaels, Samantha Carolus, Kutlwano Kepadisa, Keamogetswe Moeketsane-Malefo, Thoko Sipungu, Asakhe Cuntsulana, Susan Baker, Bailey Snyman, Unathi Fumbata, Sibusiso Mkhize, Lalu Mokuku and Tebogo Gxubane.