national Arts Festival Banner

Monday, July 3, 2023



(Above: Some of the winners of this year's Standard Bank Ovation Awards, image Mark Wessels)

Close to midnight on the last night of the National Arts Festival (NAF), and its partner Standard Bank, held a ceremony to recognise the shows that stood out on the National Arts Festival’s Fringe this year with winners in the Standard Bank Ovation Gold, Silver and Bronze categories being announced.

The Fringe is an uncurated programme at the National Arts Festival; a space where artists can bring work of any genre, language or subject. The Fringe attracts new work, revised work, collaboration and experimentation. It’s also a platform for schools, universities and colleges to debut work for the first time.

(Left: Thato Mabelane, hosted the Standard Bank Ovation Award Ceremony on July 1 in Makhanda, image Mark Wessels)

The selection of this year’s overall winners includes National Arts Festival veteran Rob van Vuuren, who took a Gold for his viral sensation Namaste Bae: Blessings and Kombucha and Theatresmiths, a collaborative of theatre makers, who were awarded both a Gold Ovation (The King of Broken Things) and a Silver for their children's show The Great Big Enormous Turnip.

Theatre from schools (Stirling High School’s Missing), universities (Rhodes University Drama Department’s Pen(t)s Down HaHa!) and institutions (Sonwa Sakuba Institute for the Performing Arts' Dear Tata: What Makes Man) all won Bronze Standard Bank Ovations. Fringe newcomer Pichi Keane made waves during her visit to the Festival and took a Silver Standard Bank Ovation Award home, as did children’s play The Red Balloon presented by the National Children’s Theatre.

Durban’s MacBob Productions did well with multiple Ovations but took home the Bronze for A Vegan Killed My Marriage and Baked Shakespeare took their Bronze for As You Like It. The poignant Ashes to Ashes, The Stories We See and Wilderness all took audiences on a journey and walked off with a Bronze for it. Local Makhanda-based choir, Kwantu who also performed in Msaki’s performances this year, were the winners of another Bronze Standard Bank Ovation Award while Land of Nonesi brought their own Eastern Cape flavour and were awarded a Bronze.

(Right: 2022 Standard Bank Young Artist for Music, Msaki

2022 Standard Bank Young Artist for Music, Msaki, made a surprise appearance at the Standard Bank Ovation Award Ceremony. Msaki is a previous Standard Bank Ovation Award winner.

Every year Fringe artists risk it all, putting hours into creating work and raising the money to bring their shows to the stage at the National Arts Festival. Winning a Standard Bank Ovation Award is an affirmation that this hard work has paid off. It is also an endorsement that resonates with theatres and Festivals both in SA and abroad as many of our Ovation winners go on to tour their productions. The Festival also welcome these winners back year after year, with new work and old favourites.

A solid foundation for artists to show work on, the Fringe accounted for just over 59% of ticket sales this year and, in the lead up to the Festival, hundreds of applications were received, suggesting that the arts is slowly re-emerging post Covid.

This year’s Standard Bank Ovation Awards panel was convened by Ranique Roberts and included panelists Alby Michaels, Samantha Carolus, Kutlwano Kepadisa, Keamogetswe Moeketsane-Malefo, Thoko Sipungu, Asakhe Cuntsulana, Susan Baker, Bailey Snyman, Unathi Fumbata, Sibusiso Mkhize, Lalu Mokuku and Tebogo Gxubane.

The Gold, Silver and Bronze

Standard Bank Ovation Winners 



Namaste Bae: Blessings and Kombucha - Rob van Vuuren

The King of Broken Things - Theatresmiths



Red Balloon - National Children’s Theatre

Ripe ‘n Ready - Pitchi Keane

The Great Big Enormous Turnip - Theatresmiths



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


For a list of all the Standard Bank Ovation Awards given during the 2023 National Arts Festival please visit

The National Arts Festival is made possible through the generous support of partners, the Eastern Cape Government, Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and Standard Bank. The NAF would also like to acknowledge HEINEKEN Beverages, the National Arts Council, Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency, Eastern Cape Development Corporation, Sarah Baartman District Municipality, Makana Municipality and Business and Arts South Africa as well as the Social Employment administered by the Industrial Development Corporation.