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After much anticipation, the Naledi Theatre Awards is proud to announce the nominees for productions staged during 2016.

The nominations reveal was hosted by the Market Theatre and took place on 27 March at the Mannie Manim Theatre amidst great excitement from the theatre industry’s key players.

“The event last night proved what a highlight the Naledi’s is in the local theatre calendar. The phenomenal list of nominees is evidence that theatre is alive and very well in South Africa, and we so look forward to honouring these actors, producers, technicians and other thespians at the Awards this year,” says Dawn Lindberg, Executive Director of the Naledi Theatre Awards."

The Naledi Theatre Awards have been in existence for 13 years and are recognised as the premier Awards event on the Gauteng Theatre Calendar. Its mission is to recognise and reward excellence in the Performing Arts, to raise the profile of Live Theatre and to create awareness of the abundance of talent alive and well on our SA stages.

Over the past 13 years, The Naledi Theatre Awards has honoured over 60 Lifetime Achievers, veteran artistes, technicians, and administrators who have dedicated their lives to SA Theatre, while also paying tribute to people in the arts who have taken their final bows during the year under review.

The Naledi Theatre Awards covers all mainstream professional productions from the period 1 January - 1 December of the previous year and the Naledi judges typically evaluate over 100 productions in approximately 27 categories. The Naledi panel of judges consists of informed and regular theatre-goers, academics, and members of the media covering the arts in Johannesburg.

“It is indeed a huge commitment and labour of love for the judges whose only reward is two tickets to the shows,” says Lindberg. The debates are open and vigorous, but in the end agreement is reached. Our only criteria is excellence, and it is particularly gratifying to see how much new local work is rising to the top.”

Judges for this year’s Awards include: Renos Spanoudes (playwright, actor, presenter and drama teacher), Welcome Msomi (theatre producer and playwright), Sello Maake ka Ncube (TV and stage actor), Maishe Maponya (playwright and arts activist), Peter Feldman (arts journalist), Helen Heldenmuth (educational drama specialist, public speaker, writer and director), Gregory Goss (equestrian instructor, rider and international judge) Johan van der Merwe (theatre producer and Afrikaans Festival judge), Annelize Hicks (theatre lover and drama teacher), Jenni Newman (PR and radio presenter), Matthew Counihan (drama teacher and actor), Rudi Sadler (graphic designer and producer), Tiffany Higgo (drama teacher) and Lance Maron (ENT surgeon with a special interest in care of the professional voice, and singer/performer).

A special panel for Theatre for Young Audiences partnered with ASSITEJ SA to provide a wider scope for quality work which is touring to schools and learners in Gauteng. Selected productions are invited to showcases twice per year at which the panel sees work they would not otherwise see due to the touring nature of theatre for young audiences.

This panel includes Gerard Bester (director of the Hillbrow Theatre Project), Allison Green (ASSITEJ SA director), Kgomotso Christopher (TV and stage actress), Omphile Molusi (theatre director and playwright), Dorianne Alexander (drama teacher, actress, public speaking trainer and adjudicator), Lakin Morgan-Baatjies (arts administrator) and Renos Spanoudes (drama teacher, writer and director).

“The date for the Awards event has not been determined as yet, due to lack of funding,” says Acting Chairman of the Naledi Theatre Awards, Welcome Msomi. “However, we are hoping to hear from potential sponsors very soon so that the much coveted Awards event can proceed as planned.”

“The Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City is holding dates for the Awards, and Clive Morris Productions are on stand by to film the Awards event (once sponsorship or funding has been secured),” says Msomi. “M-Net, KykNet and Mzansi Magic are keen to become media partners and have undertaken to broadcast the event.”

“It is vitally important to keep the Naledis alive as we hold a mirror to what is happening on our stages while encouraging new audiences and practitioners,” says Lindberg. “Theatre reflects our ever changing society and tells our stories of pain, rage, joy, celebration, and those of the human indomitable spirit,” she concludes. - release by The Famous Idea

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