The 17th Annual Naledi Theatre Awards function held on the Mandela Stage at the Joburg Theatre, was a star studded and glittering affair. “This years’ awards are a combination of a celebration of the performing arts industry and remembering those who have passed away from COVID during the last two years” said Naledi CEO, Lihan Pretorius. He continued, “Dawn Lindberg, the founder of the Naledi Theatre Awards, passed away in December 2020 and these awards are the first occasion the Naledi’s and the Industry have had to honour her memory”. The evening featured a moving tribute to Dawn, where Earl Gregory sang “Corner of the Sky” from the musical Pippin. The “In Memoriam” section of the awards was “Gathering of the Stars” written and performed by André Hattingh.

Kate Normington opened the Awards with “I’m still here” accompanied by this year’s awards event’s MD, Rowan Bakker. King David Victory Park Student, Keren Katzew performed “Colours of the Wind” from Pocahontas and the National School of the Arts performed Sondheim’s “Sunday”. Nicolas Hattingh from Redhill School performed “I don’t care much” from Cabaret, accompanied by Michael Watt. Dancers Xola Willie and Lindé Wessels performed “A River for Him” choreographed by Kelsey Middleton from Kmad Dance Company. The dynamic Trolley Dollies rounded off the evening with their rendition of “This is my life”. Renos Spanoudes, the Chair of Judges for the Naledis said “We felt it was important to showcase the youth in our Industry for these awards, as they are the future of our Industry”.

“The 17th Annual Naledi Theatre Awards for the first time spans two years in review, given that the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns decimated the industry and severely curtailed the number of productions available to review” said board member, Chris Avant Smith, he continued “Dawn Lindberg also foresaw the need to review those productions performed online specifically made to be streamed and that were not performed before a live audience. To this end the category VOLT (Virtual On-line Theatre) was created just for this period.” Chairperson, Kgomotso Christopher chimed in “What amazed the judges was the tenacity of the industry, where theatre practitioners continued to create excellence in theatre, despite terrible odds, “excellence” being the guiding factor governing the awards”.

The special awards this year were particularly relevant and poignant: Des and Dawn Lindberg and David Kramer received “Lifetime Achievement Awards”. The CEO’s Award for “Innovation in Theatre” went to the TX Theatre based in Thembisa. “The Lesedi Spirit of Courage Award” went to Sibongile Mngoma and the inaugural “Dawn Lindberg World Impact Award” went to the late Sir Antony Sher KBE.

Shaka Zulu: The Gaping Wound, produced by the South African State Theatre in association with Thamaga Productions walked away with 6 awards. Best Production of a Play went to “A Better Life” produced by the Market Theatre and Best Production of a Musical or Musical Theatre Production went to “The Trolley Dollies- A Musical” produced by The Trolley Dollies Productions.

BEST PRODUCTION FOR CHILDREN & YOUNG AUDIENCES (Supported by ASSITEJ SA) (Aged 0-13)
PRODUCTION N/A PRODUCER / THEATRE
Fantastic Mr. Fox   Prod. by the National Children’s Theatre

BEST PERFORMANCE IN A PRODUCTION FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES (Supported by ASSITEJ SA)
NAME PRODUCTION THEATRE / PRODUCER
Sandisile Dlangalala Fantastic Mr. Fox Prod. by the National Children’s Theatre

BEST PRODUCTION: VIRTUAL ON-LINE THEATRE
Hamlet   Prod. by DGC in partnership with VR Theatrical and the KKNK, in association with the Tsikanya-Chaka Centre and the Centre for Creative Arts-UKZN

BEST PRODUCTION: INDEPENDENT-/FRINGE THEATRE
Ward 13   Prod. by TX Theatre

BEST PRODUCTION: TERTIARY-/INCUBATOR THEATRE
Peeling Shadows   Prod. by KwaSha Theatre Company in association with the Market Theatre Laboratory

BEST PRODUCTION: DANCE, PHYSICAL THEATRE AND BALLET
Don Quixote   Prod. by Joburg Ballet

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE IN A PLAY
Tshireletso Nkoane The Princesses of Askies Shem Street Prod. by Tin Town Theatre

BEST BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE
Ruan Wessels Brothers Prod. by the Market Theatre

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY IN A PLAY OR MUSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
Meshack Mavuso-Magabane and the Cast Shaka Zulu: The Gaping Wound Prod. by the South African State Theatre in association with Thamaga Productions

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE / ARRANGEMENT / ADAPTATION
Simon Kohler Kamphoer Prod. by the Market Theatre and the Roodepoort Theatre, in association with Theatre rocket

BEST MUSICAL DIRECTOR
Simphiwe Skhakhane and Zakhele Mabena Shaka Zulu: The Gaping Wound Prod. by the South African State Theatre in association with Thamaga Productions

BEST PERFORMANCE IN A SOLO PRODUCTION
Sandra Prinsloo Kamphoer Prod. by the Market Theatre and the Roodepoort Theatre, in association with Theatrerocket

BEST ENSEMBLE
Brendan van Rhyn, Christopher Dudgeon and Rudi Jansen The Trolley Dollies – A Musical Prod. by The Trolley Dollies Productions

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Nobayeni Xaba Shaka Zulu: The Gaping Wound Prod. by the South African State Theatre in association with Thamaga Productions

BEST THEATRE SET- AND AV DESIGN
Andrew Timm Janice Honeyman’s Cinderella Prod. by Bernard Jay and the Joburg Theatre

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN
Kosie Smit Brothers Prod. by the Market Theatre

BEST SOUND DESIGN
Paul Noko Metsi Prod. by the South African State Theatre

BEST DIRECTOR OF A MUSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
Meshack Mavuso-Magabane Shaka Zulu: The Gaping Wound Prod. by the South African State Theatre in association with Thamaga Productions

BEST DIRECTOR OF A PLAY
Hannah van Tonder Metsi Prod. by the South African State Theatre

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
Nonhlanhla Dube Shaka Zulu: The Gaping Wound Prod. by the South African State Theatre in association with Thamaga Productions

BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
Zodwa Radebe Shaka Zulu: The Gaping Wound Prod. by the South African State Theatre in association with Thamaga Productions

BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE IN A PLAY
Joint Andre Odendaal Dop Prod. by the Market Theatre
Joint Thabo Malema A Better Life Prod. by the Market Theatre

BEST NEW SOUTH AFRICAN SCRIPT
Christopher Dudgeon The Trolley Dollies – A Musical Prod. by The Trolley Dollies Productions

BEST PRODUCTION OF A PLAY
A Better Life   Prod. by the Market Theatre

BEST PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL OR MUSICAL THEATRE PRODUCTION
The Trolley Dollies – A Musical   Prod. by The Trolley Dollies Productions