Standard Bank Ovation Awards

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The Standard Bank Ovation Awards are awarded by a panel of anonymous reviewers to productions on the Fringe Festival Programme at the National Arts Festival. The panel members see shows on the Fringe and meet daily to discuss the awarding of winners.

The awards, which are given throughout the Festival, recognise 'artistic innovation, excellence, the exploration of new performance styles and the courage to open new conversation through the arts'; they are awarded to productions that are noticeable for being a cut above, well received by audiences – and that leave a lasting impression. The Standard Bank Ovation Awards help audiences – and producers – to identify quality work on the Fringe Festival Programme. They also act as a bridge between the Fringe and the Main programme, with all winning productions invited to put forward proposals for the Arena programme.


The Standard Bank Ovation Awards have been presented at the National Arts Festival since 2010. During the inaugural year, every Fringe production was eligible to be considered. However, from 2011, only fringe productions that have not been staged for more than two consecutive years qualify.

Awards Panel and Criteria

The nominations for the Standard Bank Ovation Awards are made by a panel of Cue reviewers and accredited professional media. A select number of knowledgeable and specialist arts professionals appointed by the National Arts Festival comprise an evaluation panel which functions anonymously. The panellists' identities are revealed only after the final announcement of the Standard Bank Ovation Awards winners.

The panel consists of at least one specialist in each of the following genres in which an award is be presented: Theatre; Comedy; Music (excluding Jazz); Dance; Physical Theatre; Performance Poetry/Storytelling; Multi-disciplinary arts.

The following criteria are considered by the panel when reviewing a production for the Standard Bank Ovation Awards:

  • strength of production (taking into consideration the various creative and technical elements);
  • quality of performances, writing & directing; conceptualisation, innovation & originality (does the work create new directions?);
  • potential longevity? (does the production deserve to have a life beyond the Festival? Will a Standard Bank Ovation place it under the radar of a potential management, funder or festival?);
  • overall impact of the production

Awards are given typically in three categories: Gold, Silver and Bronze. Others have included:

  • Encore Award, awarded to a young company performing at the Festival for the first time, which shows great promise for the future and which the Festival hopes will return in years to come
  • The Standing Ovation Award, presented for a company that has over a sustained period of time, contributed to the overall standard of excellence on the Fringe
  • The Adelaide Tambo Award for celebrating human rights through the arts

Standard Bank Ovation Awards Winners


Gold: London Road (KBT Productions); Butcher Brothers (Dark Laugh Theatre); Graduation Rites (Tshwane University of Technology); Dekaf (David Newton Productions); Guy Buttery

Silver: Karoo Moose (Baxter Theatre Centre in association with MOPO Productions); ...Miskien (The Pink Couch); Breed (Ubom! Eastern Cape Drama Company); Elev(i)ate2 (Athena Mazarakis); Inua (Baba Yaga Theatre – Denmark); Liquid Project (for Bloodshot and System Dop); Nibs van der Spuy; Meri Kenaz

Encore Award: The Soil (Vumile Nomanyama)

Standing Ovation Award: Theatre for Africa (Nicholas Ellenbogen and Luke Ellenbogen)

Gold winners received a prize of R5 000, while the Silver winners received a R1 000 each.


Gold: The Matchbox Theatre Collective for The Anatomy of Weather; Chris Chameleon for his solo performances

Silver: James Cairns and Taryn Bennett for Sie Weiss Alles; Iceman Productions for Dream, Brother; The Pink Couch for Mafeking Road; The Ogreling from FreeVoice productions; Rob van Vuuren; Stuart Lightbody; Laurie Levine; Lize Wiid

Encore Awards: Shoelace Rockers Soul Band; Gavin Krastin; Richard Antrobus


Gold: Nicola Hanekom for Hol

Silver: Jemma Kahn for The Epicene Butcher And Other Stories For Consenting Adults; Greg Homan for directing Mike van Graan’s Brothers in Blood; Vuyani Dance Theatre for Mayhem; Jori Snell for Kitchen Fables in a Cookie Jar; Stuart Lightbody for Dark Imaginings; Guy Buttery for his collaboration with Nibs van der Spuy; The Muffinz; David Kibuuka.

Encore Awards: Galeshewe Theatre Organisation for Goon; The Runaway Bunny Collective for Wintersweet; and the Keiskamma Music Academy.

Aha! Award: Gavin Kraston for The Satirical Fruit Salad.

Standing Ovation Award: playwright and activist, Mike van Graan, for his sustained contribution to the Festival over the years.


Gold: Dan Patlansky

Silver: Rob van Vuuren for What What; musician, Julian Redpath; The Bram Fischer Waltz; and The Things You Left Behind, directed by Kim Kerfoot and starring Jason Potgieter and Alicia McCormick; Joanna Evans for The Year of the Bicycle; Steven van Wyk and Thalia Laric for Plastic.

Encore Awards: A Day in the Desert; and Skierlik

AHA Award: Horses Heads productions for Scrape

Standing Ovation Awards: to consumate performer and educator Andrew Buckland; and actress/director, Nomhle Nkonyeni, both of whom have made invaluable contributions to industry internationally, nationally and though reinvestment in the Eastern Cape.


Gold: Wessel Pretorius’s production Undone; Tumi Mogorosi for Project Elo.

Silver: for Theatre to The Ballad of Dirk de Bruin; Whistle Stop; Miss Ever’s Boys; What the Water Gave Me; and Siembamba. For Music to Guy Buttery; Gareth Gale; and Trio with a Twist. For Comedy to Sne Dladla for The Jokes on You. For Performance Art to Gavin Krastin’s #Omnomnom; Rat Western and Wesley Deintje for Machine for Living. For Physical Theatre to Piet se Optelgoed. In the Family Fare genre, introduced for the first time at the Festival, to A Man Called Rolex.

Encore Awards: to Robbie Collins for That Bushman’s Crazy and to the Actors Unemployed Company for The Erl King.

Special Merit Ovation Award: Emsini.

New Voices Ovation Award introduced this year was awarded to Giving Birth to my Father.

Adelaide Tambo Award (a new award) for celebrating human rights through the arts was awarded jointly to The Bram Fischer Waltz and Cold Case: Revisiting Dulcie September.

Standing Ovation Award was presented to Thembi Mtshali-Jones for her illustrious career at the National Arts Festival and for her creative energy in South Africa’s cultural life spanning over four decades.


Gold: Asanda Mqiki; El Blanco: Tales of the Mariachi by Gwydion Beynon, performed by James Cairns; and Greig Coetzee’s Johnny Boskak is Feeling Funny, directed by Roslyn Wood-Morris, performed by Craig Morris.

Silver: A Man And a Dog, written and featuring Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, directed by Penelope Youngelson; We Didn’t Come to Hell for Croissants: 7 Deadly New Stories for Consenting Adults, featuring Jemma Kahn and Roberto Pombo, directed by Lindiwe Matshikiza; Morwa the Rising Sun, written and featuring Tefo Paya; Phala O Phala’s production of Kafka’s Ape, featuring Tony Bonani Miyambo; Father, Father, Father!, directed by Toni Morkel; Barbed Wire Wallpaper, choreographed and directed by Nondumiso Lwazi Msimanga; and Hatchetman.

Encore Awards: …If The World Was Listening from KZN Dance Productions; acoustic-soul group Blaqseed; and Mongiwekhaya Mthombeni’s Qhawe

Standing Ovation Award: to the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in recognition of their support of the artistic exchange between South African and Dutch artists for the past 20 years.

The Adelaide Tambo Award: Irene Stephanou’s Searching for Somebody was selected as the receipient in the Fringe category, while the Market Theatre Laboratory’s Noord! was recognised in the Student Theatre category.


Gold: Sillage (Rust Co-Operative)

Silver: Ityala Lamawele (Artscape); Sacre for One (Alan Parker); The Graveyard (Rust Co-Operative); Die Glas Ennie Draad (Artscape); Dangled (Explosiv Productions)

Ovation: BIRD/FISH (Kristin Hua NG-Yang); Cock (Matt Newman); Chapter 2 Section 9 (Sibikwa Arts Centre); Ebola (Theatre for Africa); Falling Off the Horn (Uyabona Ke); Henrietta with Love (Artscape); Msaki and the Golden Circle (One Shushu Day Artistry); Nombasa (Nombasa); Out of Bounds (Hungry Minds Productions); Paleho (Lebo Leisa); The Concert (Neo Motsatse); Tease! (Bloom & Stone); Burn (Liquid Fusion); ‘...feathers...’ (Moving into Dance Mophatong); You Suck: and Other Inescapable Truths (Klara van Wyk); For Coloured Girls Who Have Considered Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf (UJ Arts & Culture - a Division of FADA); Fabric of the Universe (Lexi Meier); Thenx Presents Aza-Nya is Five-To (ExploSIV Productions); Dani and the Lion (Daneel van der Walt);

Merit: Abangawona (The Unseen) (Sibonele Dance Project); 10 Days in a Shebeen (Umsindo Theatre Projects); Milked Voice (Slindile Mthembu); Rat Race (Well Worn Theatre Co); Isaro (Outreach Foundation - Hillbrow Theatre);

Encore: The Dark Ages (ExploSIV Productions)

Standing Ovation Award presented to the French Institute of South Africa and the Embassy of France for two decades of supporting visionary collaborations and exchanges between South African and French artists; to Gary Gordon to honour his longstanding creative energy in South Africa’s cultural life and his enormously significant contributions to the vitality of the National Arts Festival’s Main, Fringe and Arena programmes; to Ismail Mahomed who ended his tenure as Artistic Director of the National Arts Festival at the end of July.

The Adelaide Tambo Human Rights Award: presented to Drama for Life, a global leader in the integrated approach to arts for social transformation and healing. Their performances and public engagement initiatives explore, serve and grow the role of arts for social change. At the 2016 National Arts Festival, Drama For Life presented Afri-Queer, a production that brought together artists from across South Africa’s borders to give a voice that humanises and gives dignity to those who continue to be oppressed. Drama for Life has also devised and executed the Festival’s 2016 Remix Laboratory programme.


Gold: Hani: The Legacy by Market Theatre Laboratory (Theatre); Tau by One Man and His Dog and The Market Theatre (Theatre)

Silver: Bayephi by Thembela Madliki (Theatre); Human Pieces II by The South African Theatre Village (Theatre); IN(S)KIN by Artscape (Theatre); Silent Scars by Calvin Ratladi Foundation/Zabalaza Theatre Festival (Theatre); Tats Nkonzo is Privileged by ExploSIV Productions (Comedy)

Ovation Awards: 180 Punchlines! (Three Laughs a Minute) by Alan Committie (Comedy); Acoustic Me by LoveChild (Music); Agony by Thistle Productions (Theatre); Au Revoir by Followspot Productions (Comedy); Cattle Drive by Theatre for Africa (Theatre); Celebration: Music of American Composers by Althea Waites (Classical Music); Dear Mr Government, Please May I Have A Meeting With You Even Though I Am Only Six Years Old? by UJ Arts and Culture (Theatre); Dikapapa by Generation of Stars (Physical Theatre); Down to a Sunless Sea by Wind Up Mind (Dance); Ekurhuleni Jazz Ensemble (Music); Fire House by Hijinks Theatre (Theatre); Flamebook by Jo Kinda – MDALI (Theatre); Guy Buttery (Music); Molora by Tshwane University of Technology (Theatre); Nijinsky's War by Leftfoot Productions (Theatre); Samthing Soweto (Music); State Fracture by ExploSIV Productions (Comedy); Syria? by Artscape (Theatre); The Devil and Billy Markham by Contagious (Theatre); The Kaffirs by Gauteng Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts & Culture (Theatre); Welcome to the Zoo by ZikkaZimba and Hijinks Theatre (Theatre)

Encore Awards: Battles! - Iimfazwe! (Storytelling Tour); Momentum by the 34/18 Youth Dance Company (Dance); Opera Found (Classical Music); Singing Chameleon by Ditshimega Domain (Storytelling/Performance Art); Spiritual Walk (Theatre)

Merit Award: Kubili (Two) by Musa Hlatshwayo/Mhayise Productions (Dance)

Stand Out Performance by Daniel Richards in State Fracture (Comedy)

Standing Ovation Awards: to musician Steve Newman; to Tony Lankester to mark 10 years National Arts Festival CEO

The 2017 panel was convened by Tracey Saunders. Panel members were Jade Bowers, Lara Bye, Motlatji Ditodi, Mhlanguli George, Caryn Green, Mwenya Kabwe, Lliane Loots, Zanele Madiba, Alby Michaels, Jayne Morgan, Nobesuthu Rayi, Sarah Roberson, Warona Seane, Mareli Stolp, Hugo Theart, Simon Tibbs and Lee-Ann van Rooi.


Gold:: ''Medumo Ya Borwa (The best African Song and Dance thriller); J. Bobs Live: Off The RecordJefferson Tshabalala; SulliedKirsti-Leigh Gresse

Silver:: Blue Period of Milton van der SpuyHexagon Theatre; The Revlon GirlSearch for Productions; EmathongeniAmandla Dança Teatro ZA; MareneMarene; Hachetman

Ovation Awards: Andy Ndlazilwana; Deceptive Delights with Stuart LightbodyStuart Lightbody; Duo KPPeter Cartwright; Gary Thomas: MoodshipGary Thomas; GaslightLaine Butler; I'm HIV and LivingThando Mbulelo Mbanjwa; Letters With Ma'SisuluFMA-Neo Motsatse; Medusa IncarnateKate Pinchuck in collaboration with The Furies; Nomabotwe Sings; Phokwane ChroniclesGaleshewe Theatre Organisation; SainthoodTiisetso Mashifane wa Noni; SilkwormContagious; The Dead Chant in DeathTshwane University of Technology; The IslandPaxinos Productions & CYBTT; TswaloTheatreduo; Union ObuyileLumunyano Dance Group

Encore Awards Standard Bank Ovation Encore Awards recognise merit and potential in works that can be developed.: Best Friends/Worst Enemies; Choir Boy; Ingoma; Lift Club; Love in the Time of Revolution; Motswadi; New Year's Resolution; 
Satanic Dagga Orgy; Utaka

Merit: Devils at a Dead End

Ovations Award panel

Judges of the 2018 panel were: Tracey Saunders (convenor), Alon Nashman, Amelda Brand, Andrew Mulenga, Gopala Davies, Greg MacArthur, Hugo Theart, Kiroshan Naidoo, Luvuyo Yanta, Marcus Desando, Motlatji Ditodi, Namisa Mdlalose, Octavian Siau, Phemelo Helleman, Rafiek Mammon, Reggie Danster, Temba Ncetani and Thulani Nongogo.


Gold: Xova (South African State Theatre)

Silver: Fruit (Sketch Productions) (Theatre); Warona (Ukwanda Puppets & Design Art Collective) (Theatre); Unfathomable (Alex Halligey and Athena Mazarakis) (Theatre); Lost & Found (Matchbox Theatre Collective and Theatre on Pointe) (Dance)

Bronze: Currently (G)Old (Kwasha Theatre Company) (Theatre); (W)Asem (Terence Makapan)(Theatre); A Place Of Knowing (Intsusa in collaboration with TheatreDuo) (Theatre); Umnotho The Economy (Young Outreach Artists) (Theatre); You Should Be Dancing (FollowSpot Productions) (Comedy)

Standard Bank Ovation Cut Above Winners: Quava by Quava Vocal Choir; UmthomboAmandla Danca Teatro ZA; Benny BushwackerMamba Productions; Faint Patch Of LightSizile Arts Collective

Standard Bank Ovation Ensemble Award Winners: The cast of Currently (G)Old'' by Kwasha Theatre Company (Theatre); The cast of Place Of Knowing by Intsusa & Theatre Duo (Theatre); The cast of Umnotho The Economy by the Young Outreach Artists (Theatre); The cast of Warona by the Ukwanda Puppets & Design Art Collective (Theatre); The cast of Jeremiah Fyah Ises And The Baakahyaad Band by Jeremiah Fyah Ises

Standard Bank Ovation Solo Award Winners (Awarded to a single performer): FruitMatshidiso Mokoteli (Theatre); How To Be A Politician In South Africa 2019Nkosinathi Maki (Comedy); When Coasts MeetKhwezi Becker (Theatre); (W)AsemTerence Makapan (Theatre); Benny BushwackerBen Voss (Comedy)

Standard Bank Ovation Spirit of the Fringe Award (Awarded to performers or productions whose work represented the spirit, variety of the Fringe): The Blind Date by the South African Library for the Blind; JR Nkosi Duo by JR Nkosi; FollowSpot Productions; Rob van Vuuren; Stuart Lightbody


Gold: Women Hold Up The Sky (WoMin African Alliance); The King of Broken Things (Theatresmiths)

Silver: “Jazz in the theatre” featuring: Chadleigh Gowar (44 on Long (Pty) Ltd); Next! (Wela Kapela Productions); Beast In Him (Masifunde’s Academy of Creativity); Ouma Lilly & haar Klong (Vulture Productions)

Bronze: Once Upon A Circus (Zip Zap Circus); Inyange Speaks (Simbone Inyange); Mnquma (Xolisile Bongwana); What Falling Feels Like (Nicola Pilkington, Joe Young and Jade Delmage)

Cash prizes are part of the Standard Bank Ovations Award package with the Standard Bank Bronze Ovation Awards recipients winning R 3000 each, Standard Bank Ovation Silver Awards recipients receive R 6000 each, and productions winning Gold Awards take home R10 000 each.


Gold: The Shack (Totem Productions); Gone but not Forgotten (Gowar Creative Hub)

Silver: Initiation (Is’Thatha Dance Project); Verloren (Spark in the Dark); The Core (AFDA Johannesburg); Wet & Dry (Cia Paraladosanjos); Mobile Inertia (Siphumeze Khundayi); Ruth (Love and Race Productions); Torinaoshi (Tsukuba Indy (LLC)); (extra) ordinary, (un) usual (F Creations); Old Soul Waiting (Mabu Art Foundation); Buya (Mathetha Dances)

Bronze: COMPOSITION (Response-Ability/Revolution Movement); Dear Donald, Dear Hillary (Their Secret Correspondence) (Sally Vahle); The Joy of Symphonic Music – Concert 2 (KZN Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Lykele Temmingh); Umhlaba Ophezulu/Higher Ground (Iva Collective); Liminal – Documentary (Joy Film Productions); Dipalo_The Audio Version (Assitej SA); Acapella Street Corners (Chamber Ensemble)

Gold Standard Bank Ovation winners are awarded a cash prize of R 10 000, Silver Standard Bank Ovation Award winners are given R 5 000 and Bronze Standard Bank Ovation Award winners take home R 2 500.


Gold: ÎLE (Spark in the Dark); Nakanjani (Gauteng DSRAC); Malifezeke (Iphupho L’ka Biko); Emsini (Thapelo Tshite Arts Development)

Silver: Impossible (Brendon Peel Entertainment); The Gukurahundi Genocide (Uloyiko Theatre and Projects); The Vocal Explosion (Amazing Grace)(Asanda Mqiki); Whistleblowers (AFDA – Johannesburg); Asinamali (North West Development Agency); My Weight and Why I Carry It (Fishnet Features); Matchbox (Rhodes University Drama Department); May I Have This Dance (The Outline); Moodship (Gary Thomas); NSFW – NOT SAFE FOR WOKE (KG Mokgadi)

Bronze: Fragments (Stacey van Schalkwyk); Nombasa (Nombasa M Productions); Intlombe (Andy Ndlazilwana); Piano Classics (Best of Both Concerts); Kgetho (Emfuleni Arts Creatives); SwaRingana (Sikhuthali Oliver Bonga & Walter Strydom); We’re Back With Goosebump A Cappella (NWU Arts); I.N.C.O.K.O (Ezinyaweni Zam); Afrika Sings (Sonwa Sakuba Institute for the Performing Arts); Nomapondo (Amandla Danca Teatro ZA); Vincent (Wela Kapela Productions)

Ovation Awards: Classical Dreams (Kwantu Designs); Undead Generation (Five Sided Records); Can’t-centrate (Yaaseen Barnes); The Story of Eva Cassidy (Wela Kapela Productions); The Cracked Vase (Connecting Streams); BasicCity Band (BasicCity); Hiding in the Dark (Mannini Nkata); Stay At Home Comedian (Dalin Oliver); Mamlambo (Walter Sisulu University Drama Society); The Children’s Monologues (OY!Theatre, a project of Theatre Arts); Ghetto the Musical (The Eastern Cape Theatre Ensemble)


Gold: Namaste Bae: Blessings and Kombucha (Rob van Vuuren); The King of Broken Things (Theatresmiths)

Silver: Red Balloon (National Children’s Theatre); Ripe ‘n Ready (Pitchi Keane); The Great Big Enormous Turnip (Theatresmiths)

Bronze: A Vegan Killed My Marriage (Macbob Productions); As You Like It (Baked Shakespeare); Ashes to Ashes (Nobesuthu Jennifer Ndlovu); Dear Tata: What Makes a Man a Man? (Sonwa Sakuba Institute for the Performing Arts); Kwantu in Concert (KWANTU Designs); Land of Nonesi (Isomi Creative Arts Space NPC); Missing (Stirling High School); Pen(t)s Down Haha! (Rhodes University Drama Department); Second Hands (Rhodes University Drama Department); The Stories We See (Gcebile Dlamini Foundation); Wilderness (Stacey van Schalkwyk with PentaFusion)


artSMart, 18 June 2010

media update, 5 July 2010

media update, 9 July 2012

media update, 8 July 2013

media update, 13 July 2015

Grocott's Mail, 15 July 2014

ARTAFRICA, 1 June 2011

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