Director & Theatre Maker
Sylvaine is an established creator and award winning Theatre Director. She trained at the University of Cape Town Drama School, completing her Performer’s Diploma in Speech and Drama and her Bachelor of Arts Degree at UNISA. She went on to specialise in physical theatre and movement analysis at the École International de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris. She is best known for her riveting, cutting edge and innovative plays that have captivated audiences internationally. Her work has been seen throughout South Africa, and has travelled to the Edinburgh Festival and the Adelaide Fringe Festival. She remains one of the most prolific artists to devise work for The Market Theatre since her first production Fortunately premiered there in 2001.
Her mirror is carnivalesque: distorting and magnifying the mundane to reveal; not far below the surface; the beauty, the mystery and the magic of humanity. For over a decade she has been a shining light, mesmerizing her audiences with her uniquely poetic, physical theatre style and visual aesthetic.
I have had the pleasure of seeing every production that Sylvaine has directed, and I have always admired her work…she is indeed one of South Africa’s most important story tellers working in the theatre today. Dr. John Kani Actor Writer Playwright
In 2014 she was selected as the Featured Artist of the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown – now in its 40th Year. Her programme comprised 5 productions. Showcased on the Main Festival were CARGO: Precious, On the Harmful Effects of Tobacco with Andrew Buckland, and the much awaited return of Black and Blue. Two of her latest shows, Agreed and The God Complex featured on the Fringe Festival with The God Complex winning the Standard Bank Ovation 2014 Award, a prestigious accolade awarded for groundbreaking work presented on the fringe.
‘She seduces vulnerability, availability and risk out of the performer, she so masterfully guides you that you never have a sense of dread about the work…. she is the ultimate creator of pathos’ Daniel Buckland performer The God Complex
Having made her first breakthrough at the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown in 2002, her work continues to move hearts and minds and has earned a list of accolades. She was awarded the Naledi Theatre Award for Best Director 2012 (The Miser), Standard Bank Festival Young Artist Award for Drama (2006), Fleur Du Cap Best New Director (2005) and was one of the 25 worldwide nominees for the prestigious Rolex Mentor Protégé Arts Initiative 2010. She has devised and directed many critically acclaimed productions: The Miser, The Table, The Butcher Brothers, The Travellers, Baobabs Don’t Grow Here, Pregnant Pause, The Arabian Nights by Mary Zimmerman and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Sylvaine is the Artistic Director of the Fortune Cookie Theatre Company, founded by her in 2000 at a sushi conveyor belt In Johannesburg. She had just returned from Paris, where she had been furthering her craft. She and her fellow artist and collaborator Brian Webber, watched the sushi roll past and made a decision to form a company and make their own work. To date, The Fortune Cookie Theatre Company has produced seven critically acclaimed plays and collaborated with three independent theatre companies on four more works: Fresco Theatre (Baobabs Don’t Grow Here), Dark Laugh (The God Complex and The Butcher Brothers) and The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative (CARGO:Precious).
The Butcher Brothers was awarded the Standard Bank Golden Ovation Award for best physical theatre production at the National Arts Festival 2010.
Sylvaine believes that the role of the artist is to have ‘courage in the face of political, social and economic adversity’ and to produce
‘work of high quality that cannot afford to compromise its purpose or voice on any level.”