Fleur du Cap Awards 2022: an interview with Wolf Britz

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Picture of Wolf Britz: provided

Winners for the 2022 Fleur du Cap Awards were announced in 19 categories this year.

Naomi Meyer interviewed some of the winners of the awards.

An interview with Wolf Britz:

Wolf, you were awarded for your lighting design in Valsrivier. Congratulations! Please would you share your own experiences and thoughts on the play with our readers?

The Valsrivier process completed itself at the end of the pre-pandemic world we used to know. The play, as with the source text, deals with laying to rest a brother, a son, a scholar, a gun, a lover. Much of how I used to practise belongs to that old world we’ve moved on from and only reflect on in relation to a new set of values that celebrate life and its possibilities for a future.

When I think of Valsrivier, I fondly remember the people whose contribution to that process culminated in the theatrical event:

  • Rudi Sadler
  • Johan van der Merwe
  • Dominique Botha
  • Janice Honeyman
  • Saartjie Botha
  • Anna-Mart van der Merwe
  • Peggy Tunyiswa, Wiseman Sithole
  • Stian Bam
  • Tinarie van Wyk-Loots
  • Robert Hindley
  • Kaylie van Heerden
  • Amber Fox Martin
  • Charl Johan Lingenfelder
  • Marie Vogts
  • Carin Bester
  • Elisha Zeeman
  • Alexander Brits
  • Marguerite de Waal
  • Wynand Kotze
  • Gaerin Hauptfleisch
  • and Brechmari van Wyk.

The past two years were not kind to theatre. I saw Valsrivier at the Woordfees in 2020, and this was maybe the last festival where people could see this on stage as live theatre. Did Valsrivier play at other festivals as well? Maybe share some memories of the various live performances with our readers.

Correct, Woordfees was the last open festival before the onset of the lockdown, and Valsrivier did not have an extended run thereafter. When I think of the last two years in relation to our profession, I have memories of live performances being cancelled, theatres and theatrical companies closing down, and the devastation of the lives of those who rely solely on live performance for survival. I also have memories of the change in the theatrical landscape and how to be more present in the creative process.

...........
When I think of the last two years in relation to our profession, I have memories of live performances being cancelled, theatres and theatrical companies closing down, and the devastation of the lives of those who rely solely on live performance for survival. I also have memories of the change in the theatrical landscape and how to be more present in the creative process.
...............

I learned not to wallow in the misfortunes of the past, but to actively change our reality for a better future. Valsrivier was lucky to be immortalised on film as part of the Proscenium project under the direction of Christiaan Olwagen and the cinematography of Vicky Turpin. Proscenium played an integral role in bringing relief to a crippled industry and also in creating film-theatre hybrids as part of the growing collection of content available on digital platforms. These experiences and new ways of working have brought about the reorganisation of theatrical practice. In my opinion, collaboration between mediums has enriched and invigorated the stage. Our audiences have collectively gained new perspectives on life and the stories we tell about it.

............
In my opinion, collaboration between mediums has enriched and invigorated the stage. Our audiences have collectively gained new perspectives on life and the stories we tell about it.
.............

What does an award like this one mean to you in times like these?

I am very grateful to have been awarded this accolade. It is an honour and a privilege at any moment in time. However, it takes some effort to marry the awarded work to the value change COVID-19 brought into effect. Recent events at the 2022 Oscars ceremony and the discourse surrounding the validity of its significance in our current geopolitical climate is part of an important conversation we are having. This is especially prevalent among the people, like me, who benefit from the existence of these bodies that celebrate excellence in artistic practice, and the responsibility that comes with creating work for public consideration.

Do you think that the arts are still relevant during pandemic times? Why keep on creating theatre?

..........
I think the pandemic has reiterated the relevance of art as an integral part of our lives. It is my personal opinion that art making is a behavioural trait specific to our species which ensures our sustained survival and affluent existence on this planet. If we did not keep on creating theatre, what would be the alternative?
...........

I think the pandemic has reiterated the relevance of art as an integral part of our lives. It is my personal opinion that art making is a behavioural trait specific to our species which ensures our sustained survival and affluent existence on this planet. If we did not keep on creating theatre, what would be the alternative? It is easy to confuse the impact of the pandemic on the success of creative industries with artistic practice. However, theatre does not happen in isolation, and it is in numbers that we find the means to overcome life’s adversities collectively. The survival of theatre is evidence of the endurance, tenacity and adaptability of our communities ingrained in our social fabric.

Also read:

Fleur du Cap Awards 2022: an interview with Peggy Tunyiswa

57th Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards winners press release: a thrilling mix of established and emergent talent

Fleur du Cap Awards 2022: an interview with Anna-Mart van der Merwe

Fleur du Cap Awards 2022: an interview with Qondiswa James

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