Cantona James, from Stellenbosch University, won the award for most promising student at this year’s Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards.
The awards had been scheduled to take place on Sunday March 22 but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a digital announcement of winners in all award categories was made on Monday May 18 through the Facebook and Twitter pages of sponsor, Distell.
The awards reflected a dynamic, healthy mix of emergent and established local talent, said panel judging chair Africa Melane.
“The tough economic times of recent years did not rob theatre and opera lovers of an exceptional quality of productions mounted.
“The panel and I were once again blown away by what was on offer, especially the new South African works. It demonstrates that talent will flourish regardless of the circumstances,” said Mr Melane.
“From the avant garde to more mainstream entertainment, from exciting new names to seasoned stars and other specialists of the stage, this year’s winners highlight the thrilling and world-class standard of what is on offer to local audiences. We are truly fortunate.”
Kinky Boots, staged at the Fugard Theatre, was the indisputable favourite of the judges, taking a total of six awards.
Cantona took part in a number of shows.
Mr Melane said of Cantona’s achievement: “Watching student theatre is one of the highlights for me as a Fleur du Cap panel member and 2019 was no exception.
“Discovering young talent in the beginning of their careers is such a gratifying experience. There are always students who have a certain quality that defies description and pulls you to the front of the seat and Cantona has that.
“In addition to his student work we had the benefit of watching him in Slavenhuis 39. His ability to capture the emotional nuance of a complex and tortured character with such depth at his young age was spellbinding.
“Cantona was equally agile, literally, and figuratively as he bounded across the stage as the Springbok in Jakkals en Wolf. He is a young man to watch and I am sure this won’t be the last time that he is a Fleur du Cap recipient.”
Cantona said: “I’ve participated in numerous productions as a Stellenbosch University student and in my own personal capacity.
“I was part of the cast of Uniform, later on I took part in The Opera, Fairy Queen, and other productions including Raponsie, Bobby Gould in Hell, The Boy Who Fell From The Roof, [Diselle], Dankie maar nee dankie!, Jakkals en Wolf Onbeperk and in Slavenhuis 39.
“I enjoyed Jakkals and Wolf Onbeperk the most, as I could play two different roles, physically and vocally.
“The play was created through exploring, and director Amelda Brand could always get the truth out of the actor.”
Cantona added that having won this award, is bitter sweet.
“It reassures me that, jumping without a parachute is fine when you are doing so for what you love. God will provide you with wings. I’m soaring!”
This year’s Lifetime Achievement award honoured veteran playwright, director, actor and educator Fatima (Fatts) Dike.
The organisers had also decided to replace the Fleur du Cap medallion awarded to Taliep Petersen in 1999.
Won for Kat and the Kings as best contribution to a musical or revue, it had been stolen from the late composer’s family home in December.
Speaking on behalf of sponsor Distell, the company that owns the Fleur du Cap brand, Bridgitte Backman, the organisation’s director of corporate and regulatory affairs said: “We are delighted and immensely proud to be associated with stage talent of such calibre.
“The winners have made such a significant contribution to local culture, shaping how we see ourselves and our place in society.”
Winners each receive R15 000 and a silver medallion.